The Reds need another top of the rotation starter, but they don’t need to give up their top four prospects to make that happen. This would take out James Shields (who is already off the market) and Ubaldo Jimenez (who probably wasn’t ever really on the market to begin with). You don’t need an outfielder when you can’t find time to give to Chris Heisey, a guy who would be a regular for half of the league. However, the Reds are apparently still shopping for a left-fielder despite their logjam with Jonny Gomes, Fred Lewis and Heisey. So lets stick with a starting pitcher. Who should that be? The top starter available if Shields and Jimenez are gone would be Hiroki Kuroda of the Dodgers. Kuroda has been solid this season, despite his win-loss record of 6-12. The 36-year-old, who is a free agent after this season, has posted a 3.19 ERA over 20 starts, averaging 6 1/3 innings per start. Kuroda won’t be nearly as expensive as Shields or Jimenez would have been, but he should still cost a top-tier prospect. Who would I trade if I was the Reds GM?
Billy Hamilton. Billy Hamilton is the type of player that Cincinnati fans love until they make it to the Majors. Not yet 21, Hamilton has had an average season at Low-A Dayton, hitting .253/.317/.338 over 379 at bats. He has struck out 91 times but he has stolen 74 bases. His game is build on speed. The issue that I see with him is that people love his speed but don’t see through his inability to hit at this point. People sometimes say that college players are “old” when they are 24 in Triple-A. Hamilton will be 21 in September, just as Dayton’s season has closed out. He will spend a season in High-A, Double-A, and maybe a full season in Triple-A. He’ll have to stay healthy to do that, too, something that speed players sometimes struggle with due to leg injuries. He has game-changing speed, but he has a LOT of work to do before he is a legitimate prospect, despite being ranked by Baseball America as the Reds #2 prospect (behind Aroldis Chapman and in front of Devin Mesoraco). Let someone else gamble on the tools and get a pitcher, while a rental, who would make a difference down the stretch, while also showing the fans that you’re making an effort.