The Cincinnati Reds made a trade on Wednesday afternoon, moving infield prospect Jose Acosta to the Texas Rangers in exchange for outfielder Scott Heineman. The deal was first reported by C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic.

Jose Acosta, while unranked among the Cincinnati Reds prospects on any top 25 or 30 list, isn’t someone to just brush aside. The 2019 Cincinnati Reds Minor League Hitter of the Year Award winner hit .395/.481/.579 between his time in the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Rookie League in 234 plate appearances. He also stole 26 bases in 27 attempts that season. Unfortunately he didn’t get a chance to follow up on the breakout season this past year as the entirety of the minor league season was wiped out before it even got started.

It was one of the more impressive seasons that we’ve seen from a Reds minor league player in a while at the rookie ball level. Trading him away while he’s still so far from reaching the Major Leagues isn’t necessarily something that should be called into question. Unranked prospects who haven’t made it out of rookie ball don’t exactly have a great track record of reaching the big leagues in the future. Sometimes you trade players that you like in order to acquire other players that you like and ones that fill a need.

But, the timeline for Scott Heineman’s availability in the last two weeks leaves us with a question or two. On December 2nd the Rangers non-tendered Heineman, making him a free agent. His free agency didn’t last long as he quickly re-signed with Texas the next day to a Major League deal. But if he was on the Reds radar today, because he was placed on waivers earlier this week, he should have been on their radar two weeks ago when he was non-tendered. A phone call could have been placed at the time to see if he was willing to sign a big league deal with Cincinnati, which they clearly believe he’s worth since they just acquired him.

It’s certainly possible that they did make that phone call and whatever deal was offered wasn’t as good as the one offered by the Rangers, or for some reason Heineman felt better re-signing with Texas where he wouldn’t potentially be looking at being 7th on the outfield depth chart entering spring training with very little chance of breaking camp in the big leagues.

Either way, though, a player who was a free agent and likely signed for the most basic of big league deals just two weeks ago, was just acquired in a trade for a prospect coming off of a year in which he hit .395. That feels like a bit more than what one should go for given the timeline of events, and that he’s likely a 7th outfielder who will be heading off to Triple-A and only see any real playing time if he does something very unexpected in 2021 in the minors, or the team suffers several injuries to outfielders all at the same point in time at the big league level.

26 Responses

  1. MK

    Maybe this is part of another coming deal which Heineman is part of or a deal which will no longer place him 7th on the depth chart. I just have the feel the disappointing Senzel will be moved.

    • DaveCT

      For Senzel, you’d think with the scouting we had available for the No. 2 pick in the draft, we’d have known he couldn’t stay on the field.

      Heineman reminds me of Payton from the right side. He’s also an older college kid. I get it on that level, especially also giving up on Ervin, Crook, Fairchild, O’Grady, etc. Reading Rangers fan remarks, they felt he never got a chance.

    • Hotto4Votto

      It would fit the Reds M.O. of trading players when their value is low.

    • RojoBenjy

      I’m not ready to call Senzel a total disappointment. Scratch 2020 from the books—he contracted a pandemic virus that knocked him for a loop. Not his fault. His first time up he had stupid hitting coach that changed his already successful approach—didn’t get the chance to recover from that in 2020.

      If i’m his agent though i’m trying my hardest to get my client out of this organization, for sure.

  2. Jack

    Head scratcher of a move, looks like trading a prospect with potential high ceiling for a guy you know is no good.

  3. jim m.

    What a steal for the Rangers if this kid continues to hit like he has… why would the Reds trade him for a guy that isnt a top like player and they could have got him without a trade after Texas designated him for assignment???

  4. TG

    I’m just at a lost here. I don’t understand anything the Reds do, makes no sense at all. We traded an infielder who batted 395 for an outfielder who batted only 189?? Isn’t the infielder who we need most, umm like a SS? Isn’t the outfield already full? And now, now you’re in the talks of trading Sonny?? This is an embarrassment! Last year we were contenders this year were going backwards! Bob Castellini doesn’t care about what the fans think let alone care about having a winning team. Do us all a favor, pack your bags and move out of state!

  5. Brian Green

    The front office and ownership continues to be an embarrassment. And it’s clear they lack any type of strategy.

    Unless the strategy is to make the worst moves in mlb and to get fleeced by every team they deal with.

    • Doc

      Strategy: move up in the draft. Running out of good prospects to trade; need to restock!

      • Greenfield Red

        They don’t even try to move up in the draft. They try to be competitive which accomplishes nothing.

        I would be happy if they traded Gray, Castillo, and anyone else who will bring back a big prospect haul and then lose 100 games for each of the next three years to build through the draft. Not happening. They’d rather hold on to some outfielder with a bobble head day coming up than actually make a trade to help the franchise.

    • Alex Reds

      Totally agree Greenfield Red. This team needs an implosion rebuild asap. Then maybe they could be good again in 3 years by retooling the farm with top 100 prospects now vs. the 5 years it will take.. after 2-3 more years of realizing they aren’t good enough and not having a top ranked farm.

      Reds messed up big time in their recent trades. Even if they won some of the trades because they have no consistent direction and didn’t need one year rentals. As good as the Bauer trade was, all they ended up was a compensation pick, but gave up a ton more. And they were too good but not good enough and now get a middle pick in the draft. Sonny Gray should be flipped asap. He’s amazing, but our window isn’t now, and if he gets hurt… ouch.

      This team has absolutely no strategy whatsoever. They went all in and traded away their top ranked farm just so they would be good enough to barely hit .500 in just one year. Then they don’t invest payroll in the team and trade some of their best players away, while keeping all the dead money contracts from long ago and from recent signings.

      Reds need to cut payroll deep and save up enough money to have a $225M a year payroll per year over 1-2 future years. Essentially tank 3-4 years of payroll and poor records and trade away all your best older players for prospects every year, and then go all in and use that extra payroll to go for a 2-4 year window in future year. And if your prospects are good enough, then it will last longer. That’s strategy and going for it all and a World Series.

      Ultimately this trade makes no difference. The player they acquired is no better than a waiver wire selection. (unless Acosta is the real deal). Poor management to trade away a prospect because you didn’t acquire the player when available. The Reds are going in the wrong direction. They should be loading up their lower farm and very young talented high ceiling players, and getting ready to be good again in about 2024-2026.
      On the current path, Reds will muddle through until 2023, then rebuild until 2028-29.

      • DaveCT

        IDk, a 20 year old in rookie level complex ball, after three seasons, is likely an extreme long shot, and then as a utility guy. Ronald Torreyes. He’s 20? See ya in five years.

      • Tom

        Yet somehow the A’s, Cleveland, and TB find a middle path and stay in contention – on average. IMO, the Reds did their rebuild and still reap the benefits (questionable as some are at this point). Their payroll is barely over what it was during parts of the rebuild, yet the team is undeniably in a better position to win. Now, the trick is to stay on the rolling log. How nimble can they be? The only reason you look to trade Gray in 2021, Garrett in 2021, Suarez in 2023, Winker in 2022 is they “should” bring a great return. MLB is a high stakes competitive landscape, not saying it would be easy, but it’s certainly possible to improve through trading veterans in their prime. If the Reds could stay out of the high payroll game, AND win with young players, then maybe after 3-4 years of that, they CAN do a 175 mil type payroll.

  6. DaveCT

    IDK, I don’t care about moving a 20 year old who hasn’t made it out of complex baseball. Especially if he’s beating up on some 16-17 year olds in the DSL.

    Heineiman is an accomplished minor leaguer who also plays 1B. College guy, good program. Not quite AAAA yet. No i Objections to adding him really.

    What’s bizarre is 1) the acquisition of a 5th OF for a youngish guy, and that he was let go two weeks ago. Not the swiftest front office move. Nick Krall classic, I guess, because both types are usually throw ins.

    • Greenfield Red

      I agree with you Dave. I have no problem with Heineman. He’s probably a great guy and may be very productive in AAA a la Van Meter and O’Grady.

      The problem I have is, why do you give up ANYTHING to get him. There are probably a hundred guys like him available now, and there will be more in ST with no prospect cost.

  7. Colorado Red

    Stupid is, as the Reds do.
    Stupid trade, he signed a two way contract with Texas (I think).
    Bet, they did not even give his agent a call.
    A MLB contract would have done it.

    • LB

      That’s not really how baseball works, though. “Two-way contracts” are just another way of saying that a player has MiLB option years remaining (which Heineman does have 2 of), so any team who signed him would have him on a “two-way contract,” and there’s nothing Heineman can really do about it.

      Also, the reason that the Reds didn’t sign Heineman after he was non-tendered was that there’s an exclusive negotiations period where teams can negotiate with guys they are thinking of non-tendering. I’m sure the Rangers had a deal worked out with Heineman before the Reds could even legally make a call. Reds did the same with Kyle Farmer.

      • Billy

        Is this true? Why isn’t that exclusive negotiation window prior to the non-tender deadline?

        I do feel like that would change how this deal is viewed.

      • Matthew ONeal

        It is prior to the non tender deadline. He’s under contract with the Rangers until the NT him, so if the Reds made contact they’d be tampering and get in some trouble. TEX probably had a deal worked out like the Reds did with Farmer, as mentioned above.

  8. DaveCT

    Yeah, the A’s seem to do it with smoke and mirrors, while Cle and TB are easier to watch for some reason. Both are spot on developing and maximizing talent. The Tribe in particular finds quality arms every year. Who else loses Bauer, Kluber, Clevinger etc and finds a Bieber or two? Should we be able to hold on to DJ and Boddy while cutting salary, unlikely, will we be able build on the reputation for acquiring and developing talent? They better but I doubt it. If this is a full ‘cut salary’ mode, both DJ and Boddy are out of here at the first chance. They’ll make their money anywhere, just not here, ultimately. This is a big transition. From one place of building to one of hoping to break even. Mediocrity and n other words. Time will tell

    • Tom

      It’s a secret sauce I do t really know how to reproduce, but I think it starts with acceptance of the restrictions but not giving up. The view from here is those teams are just smarter and better at understanding the actual game on the field. They don’t need the flashy stuff handed to them. They mine their own. So I guess it’s scouting in some larger degree. But also a thousand other little right decisions stacked up.

  9. Northern Kentucky Reds

    The worst front office in baseball. More is coming.

  10. Scott C

    So far I am much less than impressed by what Krall has done. Perhaps there is more here that I don’t understand, but so far everything seems to be giving up more than the return. Perhaps cost cutting moves are somewhat understanding (even though they are disappointing) but giving up a promising project for a AAA level outfielder) that could have been picked up for nothing is just a head scratcher.