With the bounty that the White Sox pulled from the Nationals on Wednesday for Adam Eaton, and the news that the Nationals were working on a similar deal with the Reds for Billy Hamilton, the question of whether the team should deal the centerfielder has arisen.
If there is an overwhelming offer like was given the White Sox, it is nearly impossible to say no, even with the upper level minor league pitching depth that the Reds have. Adding three more top pitching prospects like that is just a certain ‘yes.’
However, it is doubtful that the Reds got the same offer as the Nationals with the contract value that Eaton brings to the table. Hamilton, along with fellow trade-rumored outfielder Andrew McCutchen, does not bring quite that same flexibility and value.
There has also been talks between the Reds and the Texas Rangers for Hamilton, Dan Straily, and Anthony DeSclafani at the Winter Meetings. While it is tough to gauge how far the talks have gotten for each player, the question of whether it makes sense to deal any is still present.
The best answer for that question is whether the Reds look to be better in 2017 or stay status quo. If they believe that 2017 will be the beginning of the turnaround, it makes no sense to trade Hamilton and DeSclafani. These are two players that will be viewed as difference makers with what they do on the field. Trading them for more prospects, unless the deal is amazing, only shows that the Reds feel that the rebuild is still three to four years away from seeing improvement.
Though it is impossible to have too high of expectations for a team that finished with the second worst record in baseball last season, going in a positive direction even slightly is not a lofty goal.
With the way that the team played in the second half of the season last year, they showed that there is talent on the roster and an improvement is very likely. That said, the rebuild could only be three or four years away from seriously contending again. Clearly, that is best case scenario, but further reason not to trade your ace or the versatile centerfielder.
We all know that the time has come to trade Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart, as the rebuild would be impossible to include them in the lineup and they are each blocking young players who need big league at bats to grow.
While this is true, trading a fringe player who exceeded expectations is not out of the realm of possibility…enter Straily. The Reds picked up Straily for nothing after he was released out of Spring Training prior to last season. Straily had a career year, still has some youth on his side, and has team control. Yes, this gives Straily some value to the Reds, but ultimately there is question whether he would still have that same value when the Reds are contending again.
That allows a trade of Straily to make some sense if it yields players with similar team control and higher upside. The same could be true for Adam Duvall, who was an all-star last season and may never have the same value again. Duvall certainly showcased that he can hit home runs, with 33 on the season. However, he hit just .241 and struck out nearly 30 percent of the time.
Duvall was extremely good in May and June, hitting 20 of those home runs. However, he didn’t have another month of over four for the entire season. May was also the only month of the season that he hit over .255.
With this, and the emergence of a younger Scott Schebler and prospect Jesse Winker, Duvall appears to be a sell high candidate. Whether the Reds are even in talks to move Duvall is unlikely, but it does make some sense.
Clearly, there are players that the Reds can afford to move and others that make a lot less sense. How they decide to wrap up the winter meetings and move forward prior to April will show a lot about how the brass feels that the rebuild is going.