The Cincinnati Reds have reportedly acquired right-handed pitcher Trevor Bauer from the Cleveland Indians. In exchange the Reds and Padres moved several players. The Reds have traded big league outfielder Yasiel Puig, minor league outfielder Taylor Trammell, and minor league pitcher Scott Moss. The Padres moved outfielder Franmil Reyes, prospect pitcher Logan Allen, and prospect third baseman Victor Nova. Let’s break down who is going where, though.
- The Cincinnati Reds acquired right-handed pitcher Trevor Bauer.
- The Cleveland Indians acquired outfielder Yasiel Puig, outfielder Franmil Reyes, pitching prospect Logan Allen, prospect pitcher Scott Moss, and third base prospect Victor Nova.
San Diego Padres
- The San Diego Padres acquired outfield prospect Taylor Trammell.
From the Reds side of things
The Reds are improving their rotation, without question. Trevor Bauer is a good, but not great pitcher. He’s similar to Homer Bailey for the few years before he got injured – he tantalizes with the upside, but hasn’t really put it together to dominate. Well, sort of. He did do that in 2018. But in 2014 and 2015 he was a slightly below-average pitcher, posting a 94 and 95 ERA+. Then in 2016 and 2017 he was slightly above-average, posting a 106 and 109 ERA+. Then in 2018 he posted a 198 ERA+, dominating for the 175.1 innings that he was healthy. In 2019 he’s been good, posting a 125 ERA+ in an American League best 156.2 innings. That’s good, well above-average, but it’s not elite. It’s borderline All-Star worthy.
That gives the Reds a top three pitchers heading into 2020, and heck, the rest of 2019, of Luis Castillo, Trevor Bauer, and Sonny Gray. That’s a rotation that will hold it’s own against just about any in baseball, and probably give you an advantage over most.
But, they are also giving up offense in 2019, probably. Yasiel Puig is only hitting .255/.305/.480 on the season – basically a league average bat. But he’s been a very different player for the last three months than he was in the first five weeks of the season. He’s hitting .286/.343/.542 in 70 games since May 3rd. Puig’s been a difference maker with the bat for quite a while now. His offense will likely be replaced with some combination of Jesse Winker, Josh VanMeter, and Phillip Ervin working on the corners around Nick Senzel in center.
With the prospects the biggest piece moving is Taylor Trammell. The Cincinnati Reds top prospect according to every reliable prospect source around, Trammell has spent his entire year in Double-A Chattanooga. He’s hitting just .236/.350/.338 this season through 93 games with 54 walks, 85 strikeouts, and he’s stolen 17 bases. The power hasn’t played, or really shown up yet in Double-A for Trammell. He’s just 21-years-old, and really, no one thinks he’s not going to start showing it in the future despite how things have looked in 2019.
There are areas where Taylor Trammell needs to continue to work on. Obviously he’s going to have to find a way to turn his raw power into some game power. That’s true for a lot of 21-year-olds, though. While his strikeout rate isn’t bad, it’s not exactly great, either – sitting at 22.5% on the year. And defensively, his arm doesn’t stand out. It’s a below-average arm, but one that I personally believe is enough to play center field. It will be a weakness there, but as I’ve continued to say – if Johnny Damon‘s wet-noodle arm could play in center, then there’s no reason at all that Taylor Trammell’s arm can’t because it’s better than that. Range wise, at least for now, he’s got plenty enough speed to handle the position even though he’s been in left field almost the entire year with Jose Siri handling center.
Then there’s left-handed pitcher Scott Moss. Depending on which prospect list you want to look at, he’s anywhere from #12 in the organization (MLB Pipeline, to unranked in the Top 25 (my own list). Like Trammell, he’s spent his entire season with Double-A Chattanooga. The 24-year-old has made 20 starts and has a 3.44 ERA in 102.0 innings. He’s allowed just seven home runs and he’s struck out 123 batters, but he’s also walked 57 of them.
For Scott Moss this season has been an interesting one. He’s got the highest strikeout rate of his career, sitting at 28.2% on the year. But his walk rate is almost double what it was last season and at a career high 13.1%. That rate has improved quite a bit in the last 9 starts, dating back to June 7th, though. In that stretch he’s walked just 15 batters in 50.1 innings, giving him a strikeout rate of 6.9%.
Unlike Trammell, Moss isn’t viewed as a potential future All-Star caliber player. While opinions do vary a bit with the lefty, the majority of people that I’ve spoken to this season think he’s potentially a #5 starter if things go right for him, but most likely a solid reliever.
Final Thoughts (for now)
In a day and age when it seems that how many years a player has remaining until they hit free agency is significantly more important than how good a player is, it feels like the Cincinnati Reds overpaid to acquire Trevor Bauer. A lot of people are pointing to what the Mets had to give up for Marcus Stroman and then looking at what the Reds had to give up for Bauer and the two things simply don’t match up. At all.
I posted this thought on twitter, and I’ll post it again here. In todays day and age when no one is seemingly wanting to give up young players with team control, the Reds just traded a player in Taylor Trammell who is universally considered a Top 50 prospect (and a Top 25 guy in some places) for 8 months worth of a good, but not elite pitcher. That alone feels like it’s a lot. the fact that they also threw in Yasiel Puig and Scott Moss just pushes things even further in the wrong direction.
I’m the kind of trade evaluation guy that how things looked the day of the trade is how things are. No matter how it works out in the end, my feelings aren’t really going to change because all of the known information at the time of the trade is all that you could evaluate it on. If that information changes it doesn’t alter the decision made at the time. If Trevor Bauer wins the Cy Young Award next year for the Reds, it’ll be great. But that’s not the guy they traded for. They traded for a borderline All-Star caliber pitcher. They didn’t trade for Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer.
This trade is going to improve the Reds in 2020. For as much as I think that Taylor Trammell will eventually put it all together, I don’t think that 2020 is the year he’ll outperform a Trevor Bauer caliber big leaguer. Getting to face the pitcher and lesser-than-DH caliber hitters in the National League will be interesting to see for Bauer’s numbers. But he also has to pitch in Great American Ballpark, and that usually doesn’t help pitchers.
Looking back on this deal, the Reds are really going to need to win games in 2020 for this to not feel like a kick in the gut down the line. The Reds may think that 76 wins is great in 2019, but despite what Bob Castellini thinks about that, it’s not. And playing for those 76 wins by trading your top prospect is a big stretch. Fortunately Trevor Bauer is around for 2020, too. But the Reds had better make it count because after that he’s gone. And so is Taylor Trammell. And so is Scott Moss. If Cincinnati doesn’t do something on the field in 2020, this will look quite bad. The Reds probably aren’t done building for next season. And this might just be step one. But they still need to add to this team for 2020 to get where they want to be.