Wow. When I saw that the Reds acquired Mat Latos, I was pretty pumped. He’s a front-end of the rotation type with some pretty good stuff. Latos is under team control until the end of the 2015 season and will be arbitration-eligible next year. He just turned 24 and holds a career 27-29 record with a 3.37 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 429 2/3 IP. While I saw one Reds fan react that he “has a losing record, what a horrible deal,” the peripherals on Latos’ stats show that he has great skills and probably just suffered from that fact that the Padres suck and they can’t score runs in Petco Park. With that being said, this deal was an absolute fleecing by new Padres GM Josh Byrnes, who bent over Walt Jocketty and stole the old man’s decency without any KY Jelly. This deal was DREADFUL for Cincinnati on so many levels.
Level One: Cincinnati uses the “small-market” card more than Al Sharpton uses the “race” card. You worry about how you’re going to move on or be able to function when you’re paying Joey Votto $17 million in 2013? Well, who are you going to replace him with now? Yonder Alonso may have been a horrible outfielder, we know this from the 24 chances he had to field in 16 games there in 2011. That’s a great use of judgment. That would have been like saying Hitler had good ideas in when he appointed chancellor of Germany in 1933 before seeing what he actually became…ok, so not that drastic but give me a break! Alonso isn’t arbitration-eligible until 2015, he can’t become a Free Agent until 2018, and you give him up in the deal? Sure, he could have bombed since he struggles against lefties and “can’t field”, but who plays first when your “small-market” team can’t afford to re-sign Votto?
Level Two: Edinson Volquez won 17 games in 2008, had elbow issues and was shut down in 2009, more elbow issues in 2010 followed by Tommy John surgery and came back in 2011. Elbow issues followed by Tommy John surgery result in a pitcher taking 12-18 months after surgery to regain their form, and, especially, their control. Volquez’s control never came back last year, but it was due to. The fact that he was tossed in based on his most recent results was absolutely asinine. Volquez’s fastball was 93.6 mph on average in 2008 and was sitting at 93.4 last year. While his ERA and WHIP has increased, he was still a work in progress. The Reds did a good thing by not locking him up long-term, but they shouldn’t have given up on him for nothing.
Level Three: Yasmani Grandal just turned 23 in November. He played at three levels in 2011, posting a .305/.401/.500 slash, ripping 31 2B and 16 homers. He wasn’t in the Reds plans due to the presence of Ryan Hanigan (who is signed on the cheap) and Devin Mesoraco, another slugging catching prospect who just arrived in Cincinnati late last season. Grandal and Alonso alone for Latos is pushing it. They are both top prospects, having been honored by Baseball America as the #3 and #4 prospects in the Reds system this season. The Reds aren’t the Rangers, Rays or Jays as far as the strength of their system, but they have elite-level talent in Mesoraco, Billy Hamilton, Alonso and Grandal.
Level Four: Who is your closer next year? Nick Masset? Bill Bray? Maybe it could have been the kid who will be 24 next May and posted a 93/28 K/BB and 2.03 ERA over 62 IP last year between Double-A and Triple-A…Brad Boxberger. Young guys can sometimes dominate as closers. Need examples? Neftali Feliz and Craig Kimbrel. BAM! No more evidence needed. You want to build a solid bullpen with a “small-market” payroll? You give opportunities to guys like this and you don’t give someone like Francisco Cordero a four-year, $45 million deal like the Reds did in 2008. You could have signed Votto and Bruce to a Ryan Braun (8-year, $45 million) or Evan Longoria (6-year, $17.5 million) lockdown, long-term deal to avoid the arbitration process and keep them on your roster. Unfortunately, the ultra-conservative nature of the city and folks of Cincinnati would have probably flipped out at such a notion.
Mat Latos is good and has the potential to be an ace. Unfortunately, the Reds got railroaded in the ace in this deal. Their aces will be sore and fans want to hunt down the ace of Walt Jocketty when Votto leaves and they have a journey-man first baseman because the team traded their future for an short-term answer. If you have such a problem locking up Free Agents, do you think you should be mortgaging the future on those short-term solutions. I don’t believe so. However, I am a lowly blogger and someone with white hair is in charge of the Reds, ruining the franchise by listening to Dusty Baker and making decisions based on his expertise. Horrible trade.