On the surface, the Cincinnati Reds‘ trade for Chicago White Sox minor league pitcher Dylan Axelrod may look like nothing more than filling an organizational need created by the Reds’ loss of Chien-Ming Wang to the White Sox after Wang opted out of his minor league contract with the Reds.
And Axelrod would do just that — he would become an emergency starter candidate for the Reds should anything happen to their starting rotation. Axelrod does have the experience as a big league starter. He started 30 games for the White Sox between 2011 and 2013 but posted a 5.36 ERA with a 1.60 WHIP and six strikeouts per nine innings in 48 appearances overall.
The trade for Axelrod combined with the recent minor league signing of lefty Scott Diamond does seem to alleviate the losses of Wang and Jeff Francis, both of whom the Reds had held in reserve at their Triple-A Louisville Bats team until both opted out.
But in Axelrod’s case, the talks between the Reds and White Sox may have went a little deeper. The return for the Reds’ acquisition has yet to be announced, but in real terms, that trade return couldn’t amount to much unless the Reds highly regard Axelrod for his Triple-A track record (3.17 ERA and 47 starts out of 49 appearances).
The real value in the Axelrod deal may involve what else was discussed: perhaps a deal to acquire former Reds’ slugger Adam Dunn or the original Cuban Missile in shortstop Alexei Ramirez.
As much as the Reds could use a power bat like Dunn, who could play first base while Joey Votto is out, and would benefit greatly from the kind of offensive upgrade Ramirez would represent over Reds starting shortstop Zack Cozart, the Reds are better off not paying too steep a price for that kind of improvement.
But Axelrod still may just be a start of things to come soon between the two teams.