This was originally published in The Athletic.
This deal was a no-brainer.
Are you kidding? Four big-league players – including three former All-Stars – and $7 million in exchange for the busted right arm and weighty contract of Homer Bailey. I mean, other than finding out that Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer are each carrying around some sort of communicable brain-melting virus, I can’t think of any reason why Dick Williams and Nick Krall would say no.
By swapping a pitcher whose usefulness expired sometime before the last presidential election, the Reds have added both an established arm to their rotation as well as two decent bats to an already capable offense, and the Dodgers are writing them a check for seven million bucks. Getting a living, breathing person for Bailey (whom The Athletic’s Pedro Moura reports will be released by the Dodgers) would have been a win. Receiving the package that’s coming back to Cincinnati is the divorced-kids Christmas version of a hot stove windfall.
The Reds/Dodgers trade, which also included Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray going to Los Angeles, begs a bunch of questions, of course. Namely, what’s next? The Reds have yet to spend a dime in free agency, meaning the cash they’ve pledged to spend this offseason is still waiting to be spent. Their most coveted prospects remain in the system, meaning that despite dealing with a shrinking pool of available quality starters, some of the other often-rumored deals of the past few weeks involving free agents and trades could still happen. And they may actually have more chips with which bargain given their sudden surplus of corner outfielders.
Neither Wood, Kemp nor Puig have deals beyond 2019, so it’s very fair to wonder – depending on which players don’t get flipped in other offseason deals – whether it makes sense for a team that just lost 95 games in 2018 to take on three one-year rentals (Dick Williams told me on ESPN1530 that he doesn’t envision extending either player before this coming season). We’ll likely spend a lot of time this summer debating the merits of trying to lock down either Puig or Wood long-term.
And obviously, we’ll all try to put what the Reds have done in just the last week in the greater context of how much they’ve improved their chances of actually competing for anything meaningful in 2019 given their steep ladder climb in arguably baseball’s toughest division. With 40 percent of the rotation overhauled and two former All-Stars added to the possibilities in the outfield, the Reds have a better team right now than they did at the conclusion of their 162nd game almost three years ago, but are they good enough to actually matter in August? And shouldn’t this winter’s goal be to bolster their odds two, three seasons from now?
Those questions bring us full circle. Again, what’s next?
To read the entire piece, go to The Athletic.
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