Even with the heroics from Eugenio Suarez last evening, the Cincinnati Reds offense has largely floundered all season. Their .310 team wOBA ranks 22nd in all of baseball, their 87 wRC+ 24th, and their 18.6% soft-contact rate has them tied for the 6th worst mark. It’s been a large reason why the team has struggled so mightily in close games, as their league-worst record in 1-run games puts on full display.
One hitter who has floundered not in 2019 is Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, whose .398 wOBA ranks as the 8th best among all qualified MLB hitters this season. And for the right price, the bearded one might well be available at this July trade deadline, as MLB.com’s Jon Morosi detailed earlier today.
Sources: #Rockies aren’t ruling out Charlie Blackmon trade, even though chances of a deal are not high at moment. #Reds, #Rangers, #STLCards could be fits, now or in winter. Story: https://t.co/pC4UTKavo4 @MLBNetwork @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 23, 2019
As Morosi continues, he mentions that the Reds, among others, might well be a solid fit for Blackmon, which on the surface makes some bit of sense. Heck, the rudimentary opening to this particular article makes the idea at least a thought-provoker.
The reality for the Reds is this: barring any major contract extensions, the club is set to lose Yasiel Puig, Scooter Gennett, and Jose Iglesias off the already frigid offensive side of things at the end of the season, and with Nick Senzel already called up and Taylor Trammell not even to AAA yet, there aren’t obvious in-house replacements in the Reds system. That’s an obvious, large reason why the front office mentioned earlier this summer that they’d be on the lookout to add a controllable hitter this July if the offer presented itself.
If you click that link, you’ll find it mentions New York Yankees youngster Clint Frazier, a controllable hitter in his own right. That’s of particular note since Frazier, 24, is nearly a full decade younger than Blackmon, 33. Blackmon’s controllable alright - he’s under contract through 2021 with player options for 2022 and 2023 - but older in baseball parlance also means more expensive. With nearly $75 million left on his current contract, Blackmon would come with a tremendous dent in the Reds payroll, while younger controllable hitters like Frazier are still stuck making league minimum.
In other words, they’re two completely different potential additions, as one would cost the Reds a pile of dollars in trade while the other would cost them a pile of good players. As for Blackmon specifically, he’s also thrived at Coors Field both this year and in his career, as his 1.000 career home OPS against his .737 career road OPS shows. That said, he is the owner of a career .939 OPS in GABP in 59 career PA, though that’s an admittedly tiny sample size.
All told, Blackmon would be an upgrade for the team’s future outlook, but the cost, his age, the splits worries, and the opportunity cost it would entail that might prevent other additions make this an upgrade I’m pretty well against at the moment. Honestly, if the Reds are willing to commit that kind of money to a corner outfielder for that length of time, I’d much prefer they just throw that - and the bit more it might take - at Yasiel Puig, who at 28 years old still looks to have plenty of prime years left.
In other news, friend of the blog Dan Szymborski worked up some trade ideas at FanGraphs, and he has on involving the Reds and another over 30 current star - Kansas City Royals 2B/OF Whit Merrifield. Merrifield, of course, was a bit of a late bloomer, his rookie season being his age-27 year, but he has absolutely taken off since getting a full-time gig. He also signed one of the more team friendly contracts in the game - 4 years, $16.25 million through 2022 (with a team option for 2023) - so while he’s a bit on the older side to be a future building block, he’s both a) excellent now and b) not the kind of player who’ll eat up an abhorrent amount of payroll. As Dan makes clear, though, that’s the kind of deal that would take a big chunk of the Reds current farm, however.
Part of that haul: former Reds 1st round pick Jonathan India, who got the promotion up to AA Chattanooga just yesterday. The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans mentions that, among many, many other things in his latest C. Notes, including a very interesting conversation with Joey Votto about some of the consequences of him having played his entire career with GABP as his home park - and not in the way you’d expect.
Over at Redleg Nation, they explore the idea of the Reds picking up Marcus Stroman from Toronto at this particular trade deadline, an idea that’s certainly an intriguing one. Stroman is under team control for the 2020 season, so this would be a move for that year as much as this one, and there’s certainly some merit to the idea of adding him while also trading away free agent to be Tanner Roark.
Finally, MLB.com’s Will Leitch looks at the next Hall of Famer on each current MLB roster, and has some interesting words on the case of Joey Votto.