The trade deadline has come and gone. The Reds made one trade, sending Adam Duvall to the Braves for a handful of lottery tickets—but that was it. Amazingly, Matt Harvey is still a Red, as are Scooter Gennett, Raisel Iglesias, and Billy Hamilton. Sure, there’s still the waiver deadline at the end of August, but that’s unlikely to make much of a difference.
“And so what?” you may ask. All of those players, with the exception of Hamilton (who at least is still exciting to watch), are having very nice seasons. Odds are the Reds will win more games over the remainder of the season having them on the roster than they would having whatever prospects they’d have gotten in exchange.
But no Reds fan should worry about the last two months of this season. Barring divine intervention, the Reds aren’t making the playoffs. Their wretched start eliminated that possibility. The baseball they’ve played since then has been so much better, however, that there’s hope they might compete for a playoff spot next year. Let’s look at the one move they did make and the several they didn’t make, and see what it all means for next season.
Adam Duvall to the Braves
This is a good move, not because of what they got back but because it shows (as Dick Williams said) that the Reds are committing to Schebler and Winker in the outfield next year. Both of those guys can really hit, and Duvall seems to have forgotten how—over the last calendar year, he has an OPS of .673. For comparison, Jose Peraza, who plays the most important defensive position besides catcher, has a .707 OPS over that same time span. It was time to move on from Duvall, and the Reds made the right call in doing so. This was a good move.
Billy Hamilton to No One
I am neutral on this. Hamilton, we have to assume, is never going to hit. He provides value in other ways, but that value doesn’t compensate entirely for the poor bat. That said, the Reds don’t have anyone at the moment who can take over centerfield without being at least a little bit of a defensive liability. This could change rapidly, and Schebler has shown himself to be solid if unspectacular in center. The Reds, at least, have seemed willing to reduce Hamilton’s playing time, so we can be reasonably confident that when a good option makes itself apparent, they will make the necessary change.
Scooter Gennett to No One
Scooter is, understandably very popular in Cincinnati. He’s a hometown kid, and he’s been excellent for two seasons. The problem, as we all know, is that the Reds have the following players in their system: Nick Senzel, Dilson Herrera, Shed Long, and Alex Blandino, all of whom are better defensively than Gennett. Further, Senzel (and possibly Herrera) is likely to be at least his equal with the bat. Hand-wring all you want about the vertigo, but it’s no bigger risk than Scooter approaching the wrong side of his peak.
What it comes down to really is that both Gennett and Senzel need to be everyday players in the majors next year, and the Reds don’t seem to have room for them. My hope is that Gennett’s shoulder heals up this winter and he’s moved to the outfield, allowing Senzel to take over the more defensively important position of second base. There’s room here for the Reds to figure this out, but hanging on to Gennett means they’re still blocking the No. 4 prospect in all of baseball. This is a problem they need to address.
Raisel Iglesias to No One
I have zero problem with this non-trade. I believe, quite firmly, that the Reds can compete next year and also believe the only piece they really need is a front-end starting pitcher. Iglesias wasn’t going to bring that in return, so holding on to him seems reasonable.
Matt Harvey to No One
This is the most inexplicable thing. Harvey has been solid for the Reds, and there seems like at least a chance he could turn back into something like his old self. But he’s about to be a free agent. He’s also currently blocking both Robert Stephenson, who is destroying triple-A, and Sal Romano, both of whom should be getting starts ahead of Harvey. The only circumstance where it makes sense not to trade him is one where the Reds somehow manage to sign Harvey to a team-friendly contract with incentives or something like that. Otherwise, they should immediately put him on waivers and let any team who claims him take him.
It’s nothing against Matt Harvey—who seems to have worked very hard and been an excellent presence on the team—but I’m worried about next year. Not a handful of starts this season that should go to other pitchers.
The best grade I can give the Reds for the trade deadline is an “I” for incomplete. They didn’t do what they needed to do, and it looks bad. They have a chance to get it together still, but I’m not optimistic. It’s time for the rebuild to be over, and it’s time for the Reds to make it clear which players they’re committing to.
Jason Linden is a contributor to Nuxhall Way, Redleg Nation, and The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @JasonLinden.