On Friday, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote that Walt Jocketty said that Bryan Price’s job was safe for the rest of the season.
This should not come as a surprise, as firing him at this point would accomplish nothing. The Reds are still likely at least two seasons away from competing, so continuing this season with an interim would not solve anything.
However, Rosecrans also reported that the market has been fairly cold on both Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart. If this holds true, what happens if neither of the top trade chips that the Reds have to offer are moved?
Clearly, it is a worst case scenario. Both players can return next season and hit the trade market again. However, Cozart turns 31 next month and Bruce is 29. Another year on the roster adds another year to that ages and lowers their value some. Plus the pair are putting together success that may be hard to duplicate on the field next season.
In addition, both players are expensive options. Bruce has a $13 million team option and Cozart will hit arbitration coming off one of his strongest seasons as a Reds. Both would then hit the free agent market after the 2017 season if another deal is not struck, which also seems unlikely due to price and age.
At this point, Jose Peraza is blocked at either shortstop or second base, where Brandon Phillips appears unmovable due to his cost. While he is recovering from a recent wrist injury, Jesse Winker will eventually be blocked by Bruce in right. Eventually, it would create a situation, similar to Peraza, where he is ready to play but cannot get on the field.
The Reds also would be lacking the prospects that they would be getting back in return for the pair. After strong seasons from each, the value appeared to be rising, but after what Jocketty was saying, it appears that the market is sold on just pitching currently. The Reds are looking to get younger and rebuild, so getting multiple prospects for each would aid that process.
With the market going toward pitching, Dan Straily looks like a strong trade chip as well. The Reds claimed Straily for nothing in Spring Training, and now he could actually return something. Straily has a 4.35 ERA in 15 starts with over seven K/9, and has actually been much better than those numbers at times.
However, Jocketty may be sold on keeping Straily who has developed his two-seam fastball into a real weapon. The positive is that Straily still has four more years of team control after the 2016 season if he is retained. The down side is that he is turning 28 during the off season and is pitching by far the best he has since 2013, when he finished fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting. There is question whether he will stay constant or regress to his career averages and be worth keeping around with so much younger pitching on the rise.
In a pitcher’s market, it might be worth kicking the tires and listening on Straily, but it is unclear if the Reds are serious about moving him.
Outside of Ross Ohlendorf, it is unlikely that the Reds will trade any other pitchers that have any value at all. It is also questionable how much value that Ohlendorf has, but he is an option to be traded just do to his lack of a role in the rebuild.
While it is difficult to tell whether the talk from Jocketty is just a smoke screen or trying to get more attention, it still creates a tough situation if the pair are still wearing Reds uniforms in August.
It is hard to move either for less that what you feel they are worth, but the Reds are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to them staying on the roster as well.