With the exception of the Reds’ ace, there really hasn’t been much in the news regarding the likely fire sale the Reds will facilitate near the trading deadline. It’s now common knowledge that Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman are favorites to be moved, but whether or not they have suitors yet remains unknown.
The last trade news regarding the Cincinnati Reds‘ best trading chip, Johnny Cueto, is about as positive as the current on-field product. News of Cueto‘s elbow inflammation and two missed starts may have affected his trading value. According to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney:
Cueto threw well Tuesday, but some executives believe that as the current market plays out, Hamels could become even more attractive because of the concern about Cueto‘s elbow and the struggles of other would-be trade options, such as White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija.
It would probably only take a couple of good outings to return the outlook, but it’s likely that Walt Jocketty and Co. are doing everything possible to find a suitor. Following the disastrous series in Philadelphia, after a shocking three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals, the Reds are probably ready to get the rebuild started.
Kansas City has recently popped up in rumors surrounding the Reds’ ace. Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes:
The Royals could join the pack of teams phoning Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty to express interest. The organization fields a farm system capable of sparking at least a discussion, rival executives say. To those executives, Cueto represents the one asset missing on the Royals’ roster: A genuine centerpiece for their rotation.
Cueto‘s agent weighs in on the topic. He discussed Cueto with MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden. You can listed to the audio here.
Aroldis Chapman would easily be the second-most valuable trading trip the Reds have. Unlike Cueto, Chapman has an extra year of control and thus may bring in an even better haul.
Jeff Sullivan of FoxSports.com thinks his return may resemble Craig Kimbrel‘s. He writes:
The best actual trade comp we have is Craig Kimbrel, who is one of the few relievers who can come close to matching Chapman’s performance. Unfortunately, while Kimbrel is similar to Chapman on the mound, the trade circumstances were different. Kimbrel wasn’t traded midseason, and Kimbrel‘s also under a long-term contract. Still, despite his fairly large salary commitment, Kimbrel netted Matt Wisler — BA No. 34 prospect — plus some bit parts. Though some thought the trade an overpay on San Diego‘s end, what happened happened.
Finding a suitor for Chapman wouldn’t be very difficult. But as of now, there have been no headline rumors.
Jay Bruce is probably the third-best trading piece the Reds have. After a horrendous start, Bruce is slashing .226/.342/.405. And while this doesn’t seem impressive, he was hitting in the .160’s earlier in May.
Bruce is still apparently attracting suitors, too. According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, teams are willing to “take a flyer,” on him, meaning he’ll be a sell-low candidate barring any major spike in production.
“I’d take a flyer on him,” an American League scout said, “and see if our on-the-field people could fix him. He looks healthy. His home runs and walks still grade out at 60 to 65 (on the 80-point scale). It’s just that his hit-ability is at 25 right now.”
It’s a little higher since this conversation happened, but it does look like the Reds could still get a decent return for their left fielder if he indeed were moved.
Of tradable assets. And many would argue whether some of these contracts are tradable, that leaves Brandon Phillips, Mike Leake, Todd Frazier and Brayan Pena. Of all these names, Mike Leake has generated the most buzz.
According to Mark Polishuk of MLBTradeRumors.com, Leake‘s value may have improved with Cueto‘s recent elbow issues. He writes:
Reds right-hander Mike Leake is considered by one AL scout to be able to “pitch in either league with no problem” and at the trade deadline, “there might be more action on him than any pitcher out there.” The Reds could be looking to deal the free agent-to-be since they didn’t discuss an extension with him during the offseason. Leake’s trade value may be improved by the fact that teammate Johnny Cueto and the Athletics‘ Scott Kazmir (two more pending free agents) have recently been dealing with elbow and shoulder problems, respectively.
That’s just about it in terms of news surrounding the Reds trading landscape, though it’s only the 5th of June. Now six games under .500 and 12 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals, the wild card seems to be the only reasonably attainable goal if the Reds were to suddenly win more games than they lose from here on.
They’re just 5.5 games back from the final spot, but there are eight teams ahead of them. They could make a run at it, but maybe it’s time to start planning for the future instead. Stay tuned.
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