With about 28 hours left until the 2014 MLB Trade Deadline, the rumor mill is running rampant will possible destinations for star players. The most prominent talk right now surrounds a few of the top arms in baseball — Jon Lester and David Price. While the Cincinnati Reds are not interested in acquiring either pitcher, a few other NL Central teams seem to be in the mix for both which might just be very good news for the Reds.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals are consistently being mentioned as two of the top suitors for the All-Star aces. So why is that potentially good news for the Reds? Well, for multiple reasons.
For the Cardinals, it shows their desire to bolster their rotation, despite the fact that their offense ranks 29th in the league. While injuries have taken a toll on their starters, they still rank fifth in the majors with a rotation ERA of just 3.34 (overall team ERA is eighth in the league at 3.39). So if the Cardinals truly are serious about acquiring another ace for their rotation, they are seemingly ignoring their greatest weakness as they make a push toward the playoffs.
Another interesting aspect for the two clubs would be the prospects that would be required in return for either pitcher. Aces with the pedigree such as Lester and Price would command at least three top prospects. If the Cardinals were willing to part with a player such as Oscar Taveras and more, the future would be a little less bright than before as their focus would directly be pointed towards winning immediately. Likewise, if the Pirates were willing to part ways with Gregor Blanco and other prospects for a pitcher, their standing as the sixth best farm system in all of MLB would take a hit.
While prospects are just that for a reason (they have yet to make an impact in the majors), the diluting farm systems within the division could help the Reds over the course of the next few years, giving the team a new window of opportunity. However, if the Pirates and Cardinals do make these trades, the pressure then falls on the Reds to ensure that they properly reload and stock up for 2015 and beyond to avoid having a lack of depth in future seasons (something that has really hurt them in 2014).
For the Cardinals and Pirates, it’s an interesting approach. While both teams are on the cusp of the playoffs, they are seemingly willing to part with top prospects for a one or two-year rental. That is an approach that the Cardinals do not often take. And while the Pirates have made deadline moves in the past, they have yet to make one of this magnitude. It would be a bold move for both and would then put even more pressure on their minor league development systems.
Yet for the Reds, it would present the team with an opportunity. As I have preached over and over again, the Reds can retool at the deadline and in the offseason to ensure the team is in contention in the foreseeable future — 2015 included. It won’t be easy, but an inventive trade deadline by the Reds combined with two big moves by their rivals could result in a very bright future for the team in the Queen City.