Good Saturday, well, I started typing this in the morning, but we’ll say noon-ish. In case you haven’t heard, the Cincinnati Reds made the big splash we were all waiting for. Seriously, Reds fans, they won this deal.
Late Friday afternoon, the Reds struck a deal with the Dodgers to get out from under the shadow of Daniel Dewitt “Homer” Bailey’s contract. In the process, they acquired Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Matt Kemp, Kyle Farmer, and a few bucks to alleviate the $21 million Kemp will be making. The Redlegs included Jeter Downs (#8 prospect) and Josiah Gray (between #11 and #13 prospect) in the deal.
There is so much to unpack from this deal, but let me be the first to tell you, I’m not about to throw a wet blanket on this. I am so very excited at what the Cincinnati front office did with this, that I wish Opening Day were tomorrow. Let’s dive in.
First and foremost, Homer is gone. It may seem a bit mean, the way Reds fans have treated him as of late, but for both parties, this is good. He can begin rebuilding his career in a different setting and the Reds will not have the pall cast over them by his inability to live up to a gargantuan contract. Reports state the Dodgers plan to release him, so his next stop is unclear. What is clear is there will be no drama, in the Reds organization, as to how to utilize a pitcher whose best days a far behind.
The second part, and the more I’ve thought about it my favorite part, is the acquisition of Yasiel Puig. He will bring so much excitement and flair to this lineup that is already pretty good. Can he play centerfield? Maybe. The big point here is he will do wondrous things with the bat in Great American Ballpark. In 16 career games at GABP, Puig has 15 hits, 11 runs scored, and four homers. He has a .324 career batting average against NL Central opponents with 17 homers and 49 RBI. His lowest on-base percentage against any NL Central foe is .351, against Milwaukee, and he has a .409 OBP (!) against Chicago. Dude is going to do great things in this lineup in 2019.
Another great addition is Alex Wood. Some will say he is the best part, and Dick Williams even said that they wouldn’t have begun conversations with LA had a pitcher not been involved, but he’s Robin to Puig’s Batman, here. Nevertheless, Robin was still pretty awesome, and so is Wood. He has a career 3.29 ERA with 738 strikeouts and allows home runs at a microscopic rate (0.8 HR per nine innings). He may not be the guy to toss 200 innings, but 160-170 is definitely within the realm of possibility. He’s pitched a total of 17 innings at GABP and has allowed just a pair of homers. In 27 career appearances against NL Central opponents, Wood has only seen 11 of his pitches turn into dingers. Dick Williams says he figures to be a middle of the rotation guy, which may mean another big move looms!
Matt Kemp is a nice piece. He’s a bit past his prime, but he still made the All-Star Team in 2018, clubbing 21 homers with most of his games at pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. He will add depth to the outfield and give David Bell the option of platooning guys in the corner outfield spots as this means the four outfielders of Kemp, Puig, Schebler, and Winker sport two right-handed hitters and two left-handers. Also, some have thrown around the possibility of Kemp in a deal to land Indians’ ace Corey Kluber. We’ll see about that one, though. For now, the Reds everyday eight is deep.
As far as the Reds prospects that were traded, I don’t mind. It was fun having a kid who plays shortstop and is named “Jeter,” but neither kid has passed single-a. They were at least two years away, maybe even three. That makes three prospects (Tanner Rainey being the third) who weren’t going to be a factor in the near future who have been swapped for guys who could help the Redlegs make the leap (Tanner Roark being the other guy gotten, thus far).
The bottom line is: you do not have to squint to see a better Cincinnati Reds team in 2019, and I don’t think we’re done, yet.
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