The Cincinnati Reds gave up four players to acquire starting pitcher Mat Latos from the San Diego Padres prior to the 2012 season. The price seemed steep for the Reds, who dealt the pitcher they had traded Josh Hamilton to get in Edinson Volquez, plus three first-round draft picks in 1B Yonder Alonso, C Yasmani Grandal and reliever Brad Boxberger.
Latos could’ve personally reminded the Padres of the pitcher they gave up during the three-game series between the Reds and Padres this week, but he has yet to pitch this year and likely won’t until some time in June due to a flexor mass strain in his elbow.
Still, a couple of years after the fact, the price looks like it was worth it for the Reds as Latos delivered back-to-back 14-win seasons with a combined ERA of 3.32 in 65 starts. Latos has been a big part of a strong rotation that has helped the Reds win one division title and claim a wildcard postseason berth.
The deal has worked out for the Padres as well. Alonso has emerged as a starting first baseman, which he would have never done for the Reds behind Joey Votto. Grandal has not been able to stay on the field long enough to confirm how well he can develop into a big-league catcher, but he’s proven to be a solid hitter with some power when he has played over the past two years.
Volquez and Boxberger have since moved on, but the Latos trade did enable the Padres to land another pitcher in Andrew Cashner, who was traded by the Chicago Cubs for 1B Anthony Rizzo the month after the Padres dealt Latos. The acquisition of Alonso made Rizzo expendable and allowed the Padres to cash in on Cashner, who is emerging not only as the Padres’ ace, but also one of the top starting pitchers in the NL.
Cashner is off to a much better start in 2014 than Latos. He held the Reds to one run over seven innings Tuesday night in a no-decision to lower his ERA to 2.67 for the year. But Latos may be able to make up for lost ground if he can return from his season-long hiatus on the DL sooner rather than later.