By Illya Harrell on July 22, 2014
The Cincinnati Reds are chatting with the Philadelphia Phillies concerning the possible acquisition of outfielder Marlon Byrd and relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo. The Phillies have said they'll eat some contract for big time prospects. The Reds do have trade bait in their farm system, but what kind of offer would make Reds fans smile?
Marlon Byrd's bat is proven, and it has some pop. His primary position is right field, and until Joey Votto gets healthy, the Reds could move Jay Bruce to first while Byrd mans right. Byrd has also played some left field. When Votto returns, Byrd will shift to left. In a post-deadline deal last season, Byrd was a big reason why the Pittsburgh Pirates got so hot at the end of the season.
Left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo is a strikeout pitcher who is stingy with the long ball. The Reds desperately need middle relief help, especially from the left side. Bastardo walk rate isn't anything to write home about, but he's a better option than Logan Ondrusek, J.J. Hoover or Manny Parra. Unlike fellow lefty Parra, Bastardo has good splits against right-handed batters.
There's no need for Walt Jocketty to trade Cincinnati's big three prospects to obtain Byrd and Bastardo. Without them, there are still plenty of palatable pieces in the Reds' farm system. Who are the big three untouchables?
The Reds took Robert Stephenson out of high school in the first round (No.27 overall) of the 2011 amateur draft. He has a lively right-handed arm capable of throwing 94-98 mph and a big 12-to-6 snapdragon curveball. Jocketty would be foolish to trade him for Byrd and Bastardo.
Jesse Winker, like Stephenson, played on the 2014 U.S. Futures Game squad. His short stroke generates plus contact and plus-power. Acquiring Byrd would give the 2012 first-round supplemental pick more time to season in the minors. Winker is the Reds' left fielder of the future, and he's not going anywhere -- especially in a Byrd-Bastardo deal.
Cal State Fullerton product Michael Lorenzen is another flame-throwing righty. The most number innings he threw in a game with Fullerton was two. The Reds converted him to a starter, and it is working like a dream. Lorenzen is moving through the Reds' minor league system much faster than originally thought. He has a chance to make the 2015 squad.
With the big three untouchables not going anywhere, what kind of package can Jocketty offer the Phils? Let's take a look at a few players who could be dealt. It will take at least three -- probably four -- to land Byrd and Bastardo.
Right-handed starting pitcher Ben Lively made the jump from high-A to double-A this season -- his first full year as a professional. There's a lot to like about Lively, but there are also a few potential time bombs. He has walked 25 in 30.2 IP in double-A as command was a concern when the Reds drafted him. More troublesome is his inability to keep the ball in the yard, and that does not bode well pitching in Great American Ball Park.
With Devin Mesoraco as the current Reds catcher, Tucker Barnhart has no future with the team. He's not much of a hitter, but his defensive skills would make him a starter on many teams. There is nothing he does not do well behind the plate.
Outfielder Phillip Ervin was the first player chosen by the Reds in the 2013 amateur draft (No. 27 overall). He possesses raw power, plus-speed and a plus-arm in left or right field.
Yorman Rodriguez has been on the Reds' prospect radar since he was signed out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old in 2008. Watch out if he can cut down on his strikeout rate. The outfielder has above-average power, plus-speed, and is improving his right field play.
The Reds moved Junior Arias from third base to center field, where he's looked quite comfortable. His 2014 season has been a complete wash thanks to a broken ankle in early April. This is worrisome as he was the fastest player in the Reds' farm system. He has power, but like most young guys, his plate discipline needs to improve.
After a stellar 2012 season in double-A, Daniel Corcino was dubbed the next Johnny Cueto. He flopped in 2013 when moved to triple-A, and was sent back down to double-A at the beginning of 2014. The Reds thought it would be a brief stint, but his struggles, mainly with control, have kept him from climbing back to triple-A so far this season.
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