Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ken Rosenthal: Reds should be 'proactive' and consider trading veteran starting pitcher


On Wednesday, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports provided a slew of notable highlights in his most recent piece. And much of the space in his column was allocated to something pertaining to the Reds.

Namely, the conundrum the club finds itself in regarding the ability to retain its starting rotation beyond 2015. As Rosenthal points out, the odds of keeping Homer Bailey in a Reds uniform past this season seem very slim. Furthermore, the trio of Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Johnny Cueto could all become free agents at the end of 2015, as well. Thus, leaving Cincinnati in a precarious position indeed.

Here is what Rosenthal proposes the Reds should do to solve the problem:

Why not be proactive and move one of the veterans now? The Reds could acquire a young starter as part of the return, then sign one of the many available free agents for immediate help.

Such moves, however, might compromise the club short term, something the Reds apparently do not want to do. A trade of Latos, Leake or Cueto might be more likely after next season, particularly if the Reds fail to make the playoffs.

In any case, the Reds will need to be creative to compete in the NL Central with the defending National League champion St. Louis Cardinals, who are in a far more flexible position.

The Cardinals possess not only greater resources than the Reds, but also more affordable young talent.

Honestly, I agree with much of what Rosenthal says here. I know it took us all by surprise when the Reds were able to sign both Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to long-term deals. But it's a much different situation now. The Reds didn't have the long-term financial commitments as they do with Phillips and Votto. And I just can't see where the money would come from to sign Bailey.

This is not to mention the club's perceived inability to appease future contract demands by Latos, Leake, and Cueto, either. The Reds will find a way to keep at least one or two around, I'm sure, but they won't be able to keep them all, which makes the idea of being "proactive" in the present all the more sensible.

Is this an opinion shared by most? Probably not. In fact, it's likely a strong candidate for "unpopular opinion" of the week. But as the old adage goes, "sometimes you have to break some eggs to make an omelet."

Of all four pitchers named by Rosenthal, I think Bailey makes the most sense to consider dealing. Not just because he is the one closest to being gone, but because outside of Latos, Bailey holds the most trade value on the market. Cincinnati would be wise to at least explore the opportunity, even if it means compromising the short term. As it looks now, the Cardinals look primed to take the division this year, leaving the Reds to fight among several other strong contenders for two Wild Card spots.

With that being said, in a perfect world, I would love to see the Reds sign Bailey to a long-term extension, which would ensure his services with Cincinnati for years to come. But the business side of professional baseball threatens to squash that notion, requiring clubs to equally weigh their emotions with dollars.

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