Fans of the Cincinnati Reds would stop packing Great American Ball Park if Johnny Cueto were dealt — as well they should. With David Price likely staying with the Tampa Bay Rays, and Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro reportedly wanting Ft. Knox for the Phils’ geriatric talent, the Reds’ are in a primo spot to deal Cueto to any team — besides the St. Louis Cardinals — that was hoping to win the Price lottery.
Rant Sports writers Grant E. Doepel and Robb Hoff have different takes on the possibility of dealing the Reds’ ace pitcher. Doepel wants to see the deal happen while keeping fans happy. He suggests a deal of Cueto for Martin Prado and presumably an Arizona Diamondbacks prospect or other major league talent. Cueto for Prado and iffy prospect Archie Bradley would not keep butts in the seats.
Hoff is against trading Cueto and is happy receiving a compensatory first-round pick in the 2016 MLB amateur draft. While respecting both opinions, neither is the correct path.
Why consider trading Cueto? His contract is done after the 2015 season, the Reds can’t afford to keep him, and the club will not compete this or next season. He is on pace to pitch a career-high 245 innings, and Cueto has suffered injuries in the last three seasons. Reds GM Walt Jocketty needs to swing a deal. What kind of booty could he nab?
From the Dodgers, they would demand outfielder Joc Pederson, shortstop Corey Seager and two high-ceiling pitching prospects. The Reds’ left field woes would be cured immediately as Pederson is more than ready for the majors, but the Dodgers have an over-crowded outfield. He’s not even on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster, meaning if he’s called-up this year, he is under team control until 2019.
In triple-A, Pederson is batting .318/.450/1.035 with 22 bombs. Seager isn’t as close as Pederson, but could challenge Zack Cozart at short by 2015. Seager started the season in high-A ball and was recently called to double-A. In high-A, he hit .352/.411/1.044 with 18 jacks. In double-A, he slashed .375/.400/.983 in just 24 at-bats.
Taijuan Walker is a must from Seattle. He could step in as the No. 3 the Reds’ rotation right now. He’s been on the Mariners’ 40-man roster since last season, but is under team control until 2019. Austin Wilson is still a couple of years away. The Stanford product will be ready for the 2016 season — immediately after Jay Bruce hits the road. Wilson has the confidence and work ethic that Bruce sorely lacks.
The Orioles have two top-level pitchers, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. Bundy is rehabbing from last season’s Tommy John surgery while Gausman is already pitching for the O’s. Jonathan Schoop can play second, third or short, and is with the big club as well. If Cueto were packaged with Jonathan Broxton or Aroldis Chapman, the Reds could score Hunter Harvey as well as the three aforementioned players.
Considering Robert Stephenson and Michael Lorenzen are likely to challenge for spots in the 2015 Reds rotation, dealing with the Dodgers for offensive help makes the most sense. Huge improvements are needed for the Reds to compete in 2016. Trading Cueto is not likely to happen, but it is the right move for the delusional Jocketty, who still seems to be in “buying” mode.