The All-Star break is almost over, what does that mean you ask? It means teams focusing on contention are ready to brace the programs structure with heavy supports and teams setting outside the contention circle are ready to shake out some trade deals like a school yard bully shakes out lunch money.
The world of Major league trade negotiations can be viscous business.
The Cincinnati Red’s will always be near and dear to my heart, however this year, they feel more like the cousin who just finished rehab number three and still shows no signs of improvement. I just can’t lose the love, I reminisce of the good memories and forget the bad, and the concept of hope still tugs at my heart strings. Maybe I’m getting too personal.
With the Reds sitting 15.5 games behind the division-leading Cardinals, contention will only be talked about by pure optimists. Although the Reds are in a very unique situation trade wise, this wild-card area is a punishing place to be in. Lesser teams have crumbled.
As far as trade buzz for the Reds go, a lot has been mentioned about the possibility of shopping both Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman. Cueto is a solid ace starter and Chapman is a solid ace closer. Cueto’s basic numbers are 6-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 113 strikeouts, what puts the rust in his shine is this is his contract year. Cueto will be a free agent next year and the Reds have him on a modestly cheap contract right now of $ 10 million. I’m sure any team that would be interested would be aware of his situation; now that it’s mid-season a trade for Cueto would be risky at best for any team looking to add depth to a thin bullpen. Cueto has a history of injury and with his contract set to expire after this season the teams who are interested would basically be renting him for the remainder of the season not knowing if they could count on him to produce the rest of the year. At the end of May, Cueto complained of stiffness in his right elbow, and MRI showed it was only inflammation which was great news for the Reds but should be a red flag for teams looking to buy. This is where, General Manager Walt Jocketty should play the role of a used car dealer and distract, distract, distract, until they sign on the dotted line.
Since Jocketty is confirmed to resign with the Reds next year he should have some personal power behind his trade swing, at least we hope so.
Chapman holds a slight advantage in value over Cueto because of contract length and price. Chapman’s $8 million dollar contract is good through next year and that would give buying teams a little more to work with in the not so long run. Chapman is a great reliever and has great numbers for the year; his ERA is 1.69 with 65 strikeouts.
Alrodis Chapman and Johnny Cueto together has been a great combo for the Reds this season however, we knew coming into the season that it was going to be tight and tough decision would have to be made. The time for those decisions is now.
Sports writers and broadcasters can go on for days about the “ins and outs” of possible trading. They can use math formulas based on player value that you and I will never be able to understand. So let’s make this simple, Chapman and Cueto can either be packaged for a giant name player that will give the Reds room to brag next year or they can offer up the two separately and gain two decent prospects a piece from the top 100 prospect list in order to build an offense and make a push. The Royals and The Cardinals recently made deals that resembled the latter option, they chose to rebuild.
If history and common sense tells us anything it’s that we have no idea what will be said across the phone wires when these talks begin. Jocketty has proved to be strategic but the best offer will stand. With the trade deadline of July 31 picking up speed and the All-Star break closing soon I am anxious to see which direction Jocketty takes it. Stand by for updates people.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] or on Twitter @sidplaster)