It’s no secret that the Cincinnati Reds are struggling mightily right now. Losers of their last eight out of 10 games, the Reds find themselves in a free fall that is quickly derailing their postseason chances. With the MLB trade deadline just three days away, recent losses are making it more likely that General Manager Walt Jocketty will not be looking to improve his team for just 2014.
With that being said, the Reds must decide what is in store for the future of the team as it is currently constructed. While the vaunted “r” word has been floated around (“rebuilding”), such a drastic measure is not needed for this club. However, constructed the way they are now is not how the Reds will win a championship – and the fans know this. That is why the Reds should avoid being “buyers” at the deadline and also avoid “rebuilding” this team, instead opting to “retool” a team that is three or four pieces away from sustained success.
The Reds can (and should) use the trade deadline as a time to improve their ball club, but not necessarily with the singular focus being on 2014. The trade deadline is often a time when general managers tend to overreact (and overpay) in order to add a big name to their roster in time for a playoff push. This is a trend that the Reds could use to their advantage. With players like Houston Street and Joakim Soria commanding top prospects in return during trades last week, the Reds are in prime position to give their roster a huge upgrade – both in the farm system and the big league club.
Currently there are three Reds’ players who, if traded, would do wonders for replenishing the talent missing on the Reds’ roster – Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Broxton. Not only would the trade of those three players save the Reds nearly $30 million in 2015 (depending on final arbitration numbers), they would also bring the Reds at least four star players (or future stars) in return. Additionally, the Reds could land productive major league-ready players as well. That $30 million that would be saved could also go a long way in retaining the services of players who will see their contracts expire soon (Mat Latos and Mike Leake).
The return on these trades could fluctuate – the Reds could choose to receive high quality prospects to reload for the future or they could choose to receive current big leaguers who would help the team win in 2015 and the immediate future (such as Martin Prado).
A common misconception is that trades at the July deadline must be from a team trying to reach the current postseason or a team selling to stock up for three years down the line. But such isn’t the case, the status quo doesn’t always have to be achieved. Like the Reds trading for Scott Rolen in 2009, trades can be made to ensure future success, even if a team isn’t in playoff contention. And for the Reds, the 2014 trade deadline could be the perfect opportunity to plant the seeds for a deep playoff run in 2015.
Writing the 2014 season off doesn’t necessarily mean the future is bleak for the Cincinnati Reds – it just means that, if retooled correctly, the future is brighter than we expected.