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On second thought, the Reds should go for it

Buying at the trade deadline is dumb. But what if we assume that it isn’t?

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Wood finally made his debut for the Reds on Sunday. He was supposed to be the best pitcher the Reds got this past winter in the “get the pitching” movement, but of course a nagging back injury forced him to miss four months of baseball. It’s easy to forget that of him, Sonny Gray, and Tanner Roark, Wood was seen by many as the most talented of the lot.

Scooter Gennett was an anchor in the Reds’ lineup in 2017 and ‘18, but a groin injury robbed him of three months of his walk year. He has been back for about a month now and he has had some trouble getting his rhythm, but history says we probably shouldn’t completely write him off just yet.

Listen, I am fully aware of how this looks. Back in 2013 the Reds justified not doing a damn thing at the trade deadline because they had convinced themselves that Ryan Ludwick coming off the injured list would be the boost the team needed. He was the big deadline acquisition to spur them into October, and they didn’t even have to trade for him! Of course he wasn’t, mostly because one-tool players who suffer major injuries to that one tool they have rarely come off the mat at full strength. Anyway, what I’m saying is that I get it, but this isn’t that.

Right now, the Reds are on the outside looking in. They are seven games off the pace in the NL Central and the Wild Card. There are a number of teams in between here and there, too. They have less than a 5% chance at making the postseason. They have every reason in the world to fold up the table and close down the lemonade stand for the summer (happy Bad Metaphors Day!). But wait ...

If they choose to sell over the next few days, what would come of it? The trade market has seen some movement starting to happen over the next few days and it is shaping up to be a buyer’s market. The Mets got Marcus Stroman, one of the best pitchers on the market right now, without giving up a top-100 prospect. The A’s got Jake Diekman, one of the best relievers on the market, for what amounts to organizational filler material. The Twins got Sergio Romo for their no29 prospect and a PTBNL. Prices are pretty low right now for big-league players approaching free agency.

So given all this, what do you think the Reds could get for Tanner Roark, or Yasiel Puig, or Scooter Gennett, or any of the number of players on the roster who will be free agents at season’s end? The standard modus operandi for teams in the Reds’ current position is to trade off these kinds of expiring contracts in order to get younger players who have a chance to contribute to future Reds’ teams. But what if the returns to be had aren’t all that likely to help next year, either? What is the upside of sellling in such a market?

Conversely, in a buyer’s market, it stands to reason that the Reds could pick up some real talent at a reasonable cost. They could use some help in the lineup and the bullpen, and its looking like the prices for that kind of help are perfectly cheap. So what’s the harm? Teams in the Reds position don’t often go for it because buying generally hurts the team’s chances in future seasons. But what if it doesn’t?

It’s still not clear what the trade market looks like, even though we are just over 48 hours from the deadline. But it sure looks like the Reds don’t stand to lose or gain much in the next few days. There seems to be little risk involved either way. So why not? The Reds could go for it, regardless of their chances, and maybe have some fun over the next few months and build some goodwill heading into next year. The downside is minimal and the upside, no matter how slim, is lots and lots of fun.

So why not?