Tough decisions for the Redlegs
The Cincinnati Reds are almost certain to trade right handed pitcher and free agent to be Matt Harvey to a playoff contending team before the non-waiver Major League baseball deadline on Tuesday.
It will be interesting to see the approach that new Reds General Manager Nick Krahl, along with Team President Dick Williams, take with the remainder of the Reds roster as they appear to be at the ending of the major rebuild the club has undergone over the past four years.
A 3-18 beginning to the 2018 season eliminated any hopes the Reds had of contending this season but the club has rallied under interim manager Jim Riggleman to play better than .500 baseball since and appear to have a bright future with a strong starting lineup to go along with a farm system that is rated in the top 10 in all of baseball.
In addition to Harvey, names such as Raisel Iglesias, Scooter Gennett, Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler and Billy Hamilton have been in the rumor mill this season but all are under team control for a few more seasons, meaning the Reds can ask for more in return than if they were free agents at the end of the season.
The Reds front office has been quite successful in some deals of veteran players over the past few years as they acquired All-Star third baseman Eugenio Suarez in a trade for journeyman pitcher Alfredo Simon and also acquired starting shortstop Jose Peraza, Schebler and utility infielder Brandon Dixon for Todd Frazier in December of 2015.
Those deals were made in the off season while the Reds deals at the trade deadline have been far less productive.
In July of 2015 the Reds dealt Johnny Cueto, arguably the best homegrown pitcher to come out of the Cincinnati system in a couple of decades to the Kansas City Royals for left hander’s Cody Reed, Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb.
While Lamb is no longer in the organization, Reed and Finnegan are both struggling at Triple A Louisville.
Any deal the Reds would make would likely be to acquire a top-of-the-rotation pitcher, something they have sorely lacked since the trade of Cueto.
Attracting a free agent pitcher to sign with the Reds to pitch in the unfriendly confines of Great American Ball Park is not likely to happen meaning the organization may have to part with more than they would like to acquire that kind of a pitcher.
Iglesias is likely the top target of other teams as he is locked up for several more seasons at a very affordable salary but that is just the type of player the small-market Reds may want to hang onto to become competitive once again in the near future.
Schebler, Duvall and Hamilton are expendable because they are part of a four-man Reds outfield that also includes injured rookie Jesse Winker, but none of them by themselves would have the value to acquire the type of pitcher the Reds desire.
That leaves Gennett, the Cincinnati native that the Reds pulled off of the scrap heap last spring after he was released by Milwaukee only to watch him blossom into one of the top offensive players in all of the National League.
After endearing himself to Reds fans by slamming four home runs in one game last season and finishing with 27 homers and 97 RBIs, Gennett has been just as good if not better in 2018 as he is hitting .313 with 16 home runs and 63 runs batted in.
That being said the Reds have drafted a pair of infielders in the first round of the draft in two of the past three years in Nick Senzel and Jonathan India, both of whom could easily be ready for the major leagues in the next year or so and both seem more than capable of handling second base at the big league level.
The Reds also have Dilson Herrera, who they acquired from the New York Mets in a deadline trade for Jay Bruce in July of 2016 on their roster and two other top middle-infield prospects in the minors in Shed Long and Jeter Downs who appear headed to the major leagues over the next few seasons.
Gennett is under team control for one more season after this one and has recently been in negotiations with the Reds on a contract extension that would keep him in Cincy.
The guess here is the Reds attempt to lock up Gennett to a team friendly contract such as the seven year deal they agreed to with Suarez prior to the season, but if the left handed slugging second baseman sets his price tag too high, Cincinnati just may package him with a couple of young prospects to acquire the much needed pitching help it will take to return to the playoffs as they did three times earlier in the decade.