The Cincinnati Reds trade deadline is just days away, on August 1st. As we head into a weekend series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Reds sit a game and a half out of the division lead. Furthermore, they hold a half-game lead for the third wildcard spot over Arizona and Miami.
For the last month and a half, Reds fans have been begging for more pitching. As trades have already started happening across the league, we see how much pitching could cost. A tough question the Reds, and Reds fans have to ask is, is the price tag worth it in the long run?
Is the Cost of Pitching Worth it To the Reds Deadline In the Long Term
2023 has been a surprise year for Cincinnati. Just a year removed from losing 100 games, nobody predicted the Reds would be in the situation they are in. 2024 was always viewed as the year for the window to open up as far as competitiveness. Over the last two seasons, the Reds have shipped off key pieces of their organization in return for the “future”. Guys like Sonny Gray, Eugenio Suárez, and Jesse Winker turned into Jake Fraley, Brandon Williamson, and Chase Petty. The PTBNL in that Suarez/Winker deal, Connor Phillips dominated Double-A and currently is pitching well in Triple-A.
Last year’s Reds trade deadline saw an abundance of prospects return to the Reds organization. Luis Castillo was traded for top guys like Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo. Tyler Mahle cost Minnesota Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion. All four of those players are now considered key pieces to the Reds’ future. Steer and Strand both already are engraved to the big league roster. Marte is currently slashing .329/.372/.526 with a 117 wRC+ per FanGraphs in Triple-A Louisville.
With all of the young talent the Reds have acquired the last two seasons, it would be foolish to tear that down for a deadline pitcher. Especially when the team is ahead of schedule with competing. So, if top prospects are off the table, where does the value come from with the Reds? Is there any at all?
What Value Do Current Reds Players Hold?
If you’re active on Twitter, you’ve seen countless posts of guys the Reds should trade. Kevin Newman, Nick Senzel, Luke Maile, Curt Casali, and even Jonathan India. But if you look at all of those guys, who holds value? Value, in terms of being able to get a big league return at the Reds deadline. Let’s start with the catcher duo.
All year long, the Reds have carried three catchers. Why? I’m still not quite sure. If you were to get rid of one, flip a coin on either. What team would take them? Keep flipping that coin, because there isn’t any. Between the two, they combine for a 0.0 fWAR (Casali -0.2, Maile 0.2). So yes, while it may not make sense why the Reds carry three catchers, they may be stuck with them.
Kevin Newman could be a Reds deadline piece sent away, but what does he bring back? Newman is 29 and can play the left side of the infield, along with first base. He’s also still in his arbitration years. But Newman is just a platoon bat. This year he’s hit .304 vs lefties while just hitting .231 vs a right-handed pitcher. The Reds have played him mostly in the lineup vs a Southpaw.
Nick Senzel is in a similar boat as Newman. Although he has more positional flexibility by being able to play the outfield, he still is viewed as more of a platoon guy. The former first-round pick has crushed lefties, at .333 while hitting below .200 vs righties (.188).
Finally, Jonathan India. The hot topic point across Reds fans for the last month or so. Although many people want it, a Reds deadline deal with India involved just won’t happen. The 2021 National League Rookie of the Year has struggled this year after his fast start. His .282 average through the first two months saw a massive dip in June, where he hit .202. Pair that with his below-average defensive rating, you’re not going to get a solid pitcher in return.
So, what should the Reds do? There’s no question about it, they need pitching help. It is good to remember though, Hunter Greene is on track to return next month. When that happens, you gain a bullpen arm with someone currently in the rotation. The Reds are above water. With 58 games left, and currently in control of a playoff spot, there isn’t a need to press. The Reds’ deadline may not be as active as fans hope, but that might just be a good thing for the future of the team.
Main photo credits: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Players mentioned: Sonny Gray, Eugenio Suárez, Jesse Winker, Jake Fraley, Brandon Williamson, Connor Phillips, Luis Castillo, Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo, Tyler Mahle, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion, Kevin Newman, Nick Senzel, Luke Maile, Curt Casali, Jonathan India, Hunter Greene