OK, Cincinnati, it’s time to move on. You’ve already mourned the Johnny Cueto trade. Shed one more tear over Aroldis Chapman’s heartfelt note, say one last goodbye. Good? Good. Now let’s look toward the future.
Let’s not let Cueto’s brilliant stretch with the Reds cloud the reality of the situation. He’s going to make a lot of money as a free agent this offseason. It’s likely he’ll reap a deal with an average annual value of more than $30 million. That’s money the Reds don’t have. He wasn’t coming back. Such is life in a non-salary cap world.
Cincinnati is 10 games under .500 and 10 back of the second wild card. Walt Jocketty did the only thing he could do and should be applauded for getting the pieces he did in return. As a small-market team with a closing window, Kansas City coveted Cueto enough to part with three intriguing pieces, the most notable of which is 22-year-old left-hander Brandon Finnegan.
A TCU product and the No. 17 overall pick in the 2014 draft, Finnegan made history last fall when he became the first player to pitch in the College World Series and the major-league World Series in the same year.
Brandon Finnegan’s cap from tonight is headed to Cooperstown. The Hall of Fame asked for it, and he said yes. He’ll wear a new one Saturday.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 25, 2014
Finnegan has a 2.59 ERA in 21 relief appearances with Kansas City over the past two seasons, though Jocketty has stated the Reds see him as a starter. Finnegan will head back to Triple-A ball, where he has a 7.07 ERA this season in just six appearances. He was ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the Royals organization by Baseball America and shined at times during Kansas City’s postseason run last fall. That’s valuable experience for a 22-year-old. Along with Finnegan, Cincinnati acquired fellow lefties John Lamb and Cody Reed. A fifth-round pick of the Royals in 2008, Lamb was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2011 season. He underwent Tommy John surgery later that year and struggled to get back to form until this season with Triple-A Omaha, where he was 9-1 with a 2.67 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, and was named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team. The 25-year-old Lamb was sent to Triple-A Louisville, but don’t be surprised to see him make his major-league debut sometime this season. Kansas City fans had been clamoring for it for a while.
Reed, the final piece, is another prospect on the rise. A second-round pick in 2013, he was recently promoted to Double-A ball, where he was 2-2 with a 3.45 ERA in five starts. He was named pitcher of the week after throwing seven scoreless innings and allowing two hits in a 1-0 win last week. Jocketty said Reed will join Double-A Pensacola. Here’s his Twitter scouting report:
LHP Cody Reed didn’t crack our preseason Top 30. He moved to No. 9 on our midseason Royals list, so some very positive momentum. — JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) July 26, 2015
Much like Nottingham in the Kazmir trade, new Reds LHP Cody Reed is significantly better than preseason reports: velo/slider/cmd all better.
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) July 26, 2015
Cody Reed is the sleeper. Great arm/control issues before this year, but made mechanical changes, improved CHG to go with 92-97 FB. — JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) July 26, 2015
— Northwest Rangers (@NWCC_Rangers) July 26, 2015
By all accounts, the Reds got three guys who have realistic shots at being big-league starters in the near future. When Kansas City traded Zack Greinke to Milwaukee in 2011, they received future all-stars Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar in return. That pair formed part of the foundation that contributed the Royals’ recent success. With any luck, Cincinnati’s new trio can do the same.