MLB trades generally fall into one of three specific categories. If you’re someone who has watched the Cincinnati Reds for years, your recent memory is stuffed with examples of the most common kind, that being bad teams shipping off established veterans to rebuild...err, reboot for a newer, far off window. The second has become slightly muddied due to the increasing importance some teams have placed on the luxury tax, but its premise is pretty simple, too - some teams just commit themselves to a fixed budget, and often look to trade players deemed too expensive to hold, for better or worse.
The third type, though, is the one that’s most often the hardest to see coming. Sometimes, teams simply become willing to trade certain players if they think they either have, or have found, an upgrade at that position. It’s that type of trade concept that has popped up as the most recent Reds-related whisper, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal revealed over the weekend that Cincinnati has maintained interest in Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager ‘throughout the offseason.’
Of course, the Dodgers do not necessarily have anyone in-house who looks capable of taking over for Seager, twice an All Star with a pair of Silver Slugger awards to his name at just 25 years old. That said, you’ve had your head under a rock all offseason if you haven’t heard scuttlebutt surrounding Cleveland and the possibility they trade superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor this winter, and the Dodgers - much to the chagrin of Reds fans - were both interested and had perhaps the deepest farm system with which to pull off such a blockbuster. So, it’s likely that ‘the Reds having interest in Corey Seager’ is nothing more than them keeping tabs on a club they’ve swung a half-dozen deals with of late, letting them know that if they did manage to land Lindor, they’d be more than happy to take Seager off their hands to clear the logjam.
The Dodgers, of course, are still pretty hell-bent on winning a World Series, and certainly look primed to challenge for one again in 2020. They aren’t just going to trade their star shortstop because a team knocks on the door and screams PROSPECTS! And given that the latest word from Cleveland is that Lindor won’t yet be on the move this winter, it’s hard to envision LA striking a deal with someone else to find an upgrade at the 6, meaning the idea that Seager lands on the Reds at this juncture has largely been vanquished.
So, why write about it?
Well, just because that’s not something that looks like it’ll go down right this minute, the Reds have a way of maintaining interest in players for long stretches of time. The Trevor Bauer rumors first started up long before the club finally landed him last summer, for instance, while the club’s chase of Yasmani Grandal this winter was apparently at least the second straight year in which they’d pursued him in free agency. Considering Lindor will eventually get moved, and considering Freddy Galvis is barely the shortstop of the present much less the shortstop of the future, seeing that the Reds have pretty well made clear that Corey Seager is a guy they’d like to have around is one to file away for future consumption as much as it is relevant to today’s depth chart.
Cozart would be an intriguing buy-low candidate if there were any assurances that his shredded shoulder were back in shape, but that appears to be quite the longshot at this juncture. I’m just glad the dude managed to land a life-changing contract before his arm went to crap.
Then, there’s the giant pile of breaking league news that slammed the interwebs immediately after I began writing said reposter. It involves the Houston Astros and their can-banging sign-stealing shenanigans from the 2017 season (at least). News initially broke that the club would face a $5 million fine as well as forfeitures of multiple draft picks, all that on top of yearlong suspensions for both GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch. Rosenthal, per usual, had all the specifics:
BREAKING: Per sources, MLB’s penalties for #Astros include:— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 13, 2020
*One-year suspensions for GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch.
*Losses of 1st and 2nd round draft picks in both 2020 and ‘21.
*A fine of $5M.
Full story and more context with @EvanDrellich: https://t.co/djvKEYFiC7
Just about when we were all beginning to wrap our heads around the consequences and fallout, this happened:
#Astros owner Jim Crane just announced the firings of Luhnow and Hinch.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 13, 2020
As if that wasn’t enough to digest, the odds are that there’s still a pile of other ramifications that will come down in the very near future. Lest we forget, it was Alex Cora who was reportedly behind much of the scheme to begin with, and he was later hired to manage the Boston Red Sox. ESPN’s Jeff Passan even went so far as to opine Cora’s inevitable suspension could end up longer than that of Hinch’s, though that came before the news that Hinch had been canned altogether.
It’s all a pretty startling development considering the way in which Houston has operated as the premier franchise in the game over the last few seasons. They’ve still got some absolute stars on their roster, but this paired with the loss of Gerrit Cole in free agency just might be the kind of thing that begins to fracture what had otherwise been a near dynastic climb for the Astros, and it certainly is the kind of scandal that won’t quickly be forgotten - especially now that there’s a tangible, punitive punishment tied to its history, too.