Thursday, July 19, 2012

A proposed trade for the Reds

Dan Szymborski of ESPN Insider proposed "Five NL trades that must happen" on Tuesday, and one of them involved the Reds. The Reds were already rumored to be in the market for another bat before news broke of Joey Votto's injury, but perhaps that alone has made their pursuit of another middle-of-the-lineup hitter even more essential.

Here's the deal proposed by Szymborksi that he suggests would help satisfy that need:

San Diego Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin to Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Kyle Lotzkar

Ryan Ludwick in left has been more serviceable than solid, and with Scott Rolen rapidly looking like toast at third base, Todd Frazier is likely the best option there, although he will now likely fill in at first base while Joey Votto recovers from knee surgery. That could still leave room for the team to bring in a bat for the stretch run.

With Cincinnati rumored to be interested in Juan Pierre, why not go after an actual hitter who could bolster the middle of the lineup? If Quentin can manage to hit in Petco Park, the much more hitter-friendly Great American would be a cozy home.

Lotzkar has plenty of upside, but it's still generally unrealized when it comes to results, and the Reds are trying to win the division. The Reds won't find anyone who can replace Votto, out for a month with torn cartilage in his knee, but Quentin's rest-of-season ZiPS projection of .263/.359/.490 at Great American will slow down the bleeding.

Like the Pirates, the Reds are eligible for Wednesday's competitive balance lottery, in which six compensatory picks will be awarded to a group of 13 teams. Unlike regular draft picks, these selections can be traded, so if the Bucs or Reds win the lottery, they could have an extra bargaining chip come deadline day.

If the 18th-best prospect in the Reds farm system is all that it takes to acquire a guy like Quentin than Cincy must pull the trigger on a trade like this, in my opinion. Cincinnati is already loaded with a stable of young starting pitchers, both in the big leagues and minor leagues, and the loss of Lotzkar in exchange for a run-producer like Quentin would prove well worth it in the long run.

However, I do believe that the Padres are going to demand more for their outfielder than a mid-level prospect. Plus, GM Walt Jocketty and owner Bob Castellini must decide whether or not they're willing to absorb the roughly $3.25 million still owed on Quentin's contract. If that's what it takes to ensure a second playoff appearance in three years, I am of the opinion that you have to do it. 

Of course, a move such as this one would create an interesting dilemma for Dusty Baker in how to arrange the outfield. The natural move would be to stick Quentin in left, but with the way Ryan Ludwick has been swinging the bat lately, that'd be a tough switch to make. The solution in my eyes is to insert Quentin in right field, keep Ludwick in left and slide Jay Bruce over from right to center field. That would relegate Drew Stubbs and his .218 average and .290 OBP to either a reserve role or a demotion to Triple-A Louisville, assuming that he wouldn't be included in the trade already. You would then have Chris Heisey off the bench to serve as a back-up for all three positions. Insert Brandon Phillips into the lead-off slot and boom, all of the Reds' major problems are solved. They add another run-producing bat to the middle-of-the-lineup while sticking a guy in the top-of-the-lineup that can get on base with regularity.  

Quentin is currently hitting .266/.391/.516 with 8 homers and 21 RBI in 36 games this season for San Diego. His season averages in seven career years include a slash line of .253/.348/.489, 30 homers and nearly 100 RBI. Yeah, I'd say Dusty Baker and his squad would be more than willing to take on that extra production.

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