It was a busy week for the Cincinnati Reds on the trade front, and on Tuesday afternoon they made two more deals that brought in prospects (as well as one “trade” of cash for veteran big league catcher who is currently in the minors and not on the 40-man roster that brings them Austin Romine).

The big trade was the one that sent Tyler Mahle to the Minnesota Twins for three prospects. Cincinnati acquired infielders Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, as well as left-handed pitcher Steven Hajjar in the deal. About 45 minutes later the Reds sent Brandon Drury to the San Diego Padres for shortstop Victor Acosta.

Spencer Steer Scouting Report

Shortstop

Height: 5′ 11″ | Weight: 185 lbs.

Born: December 7, 1997

Minnesota selected Spencer Steer in the 3rd round of the 2019 draft out of Oregon. After two solid years in 2019 and 2021, Steer has broken out in 2022, showing more power and cutting down on his strikeout rate significantly. He began the season in Double-A and hit .307/.385/.591 in 35 games before being promoted to Triple-A. Things slowed down a bit in St. Paul as he’s hit .242/.345/.485 in 48 games. Much of the decline seems to be connected to the fact that his BABIP went from a reasonable .318 in Double-A to a low .248 in Triple-A. There may be a reason it’s low, but without access to the kind of information the teams have, it’s tough to know if it’s a bit more bad luck or a bit more “not making good contact often enough”, though the fact that he’s still got plenty of extra-base hits may negate that latter one a bit.

Where Spencer Steer winds up on the defensive spectrum is a bit up in the air. He’s been playing shortstop, and he can play there if you need him to, but he’s a better fit at second or third base. His bat will play just fine at either position. But especially when considering all of the other shortstops in the Reds organization, it seems that he’s going to wind up playing somewhere that’s not shortstop in the near future.

Despite his current average in Triple-A being .242, he projects to hit for a good average in the future and he’s also projected to hit for above-average power. It’s not hard to envision a .265 hitter with 20+ home runs down the line in the big leagues.

Baseball America had Steer rated as the Twins #4 prospect in the system and 97th overall in all of minor league baseball in their mid-season update. You can see his career stats here.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand Scouting Report

Third Baseman

Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 224 lbs.

Born: December 1, 1999

After hitting 33 home runs in 81 games for Yavapai Junior College and then 15 more in 56 games for Oklahoma State as a junior in 2021, the Twins selected Christian Encarnacion-Strand in the 4th round of last year’s draft. He went out at hit .391/.424/.598 in 22 games for Low-A Fort Myers last season that included a monster 456-foot home run. This year he began the season in Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League and hit .296/.370/.599 with 23 doubles, 3 triples, and 20 home runs in 74 games. He was promoted to Double-A Wichita a few weeks ago and has continued to crush the ball, hitting .333/.400/.685 with 5 more home runs, 2 more doubles, and a triple in 13 games. His first home run in Double-A went 484 feet, just in case you were wanting another fun stat.

Offensively he’s shown some improvement on his approach versus what it was in college, and he’s been able to maintain his plus power while doing so. The power is certainly the calling card on his scouting report, earning plus-plus raw power grades at times. There’s a chance he hits for a solid average down the line, too, though that’s less certain than how his power will play. Defensively he’s been at third base for a majority of his time as a professional and to say it’s gone poorly would be an understatement. In his 67 starts over the last two seasons he’s posted an .876 fielding percentage at the position. He’s had some experience at first base, playing in 19 games there since being drafted, and it might be time to just make that move a permanent one.

He was rated by Baseball America as the Twins #14 prospect in the mid-season update. You can see his career stats here.

Victor Acosta Scouting Report

Shortstop

Height: 5′ 11″ | Weight: 170 lbs.

Born: June 10, 2004

Victor Acosta was one of the top prospects in the 2021 international signing class and got a $1,800,000 bonus from the Padres in January of 2021. He had a good debut in the Dominican Summer League last year as a 17-year-old, hitting .285/.431/.484 with 26 steals, 12 doubles, 5 triples, 5 home runs, 38 walks, and 45 strikeouts in 240 plate appearances. This season he moved up to the Arizona Complex League and things have slowed down a little bit. The switch hitter has played in 32 games and has 3 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs, and just 5 steals in 12 attempts while hitting .243/.346/.360 in 131 plate appearances.

As you would expect from a guy who got $1.8M signing bonus less than 18 months ago, Victor Acosta has plenty of tools and projection in his game. While there may not be a ton of physical projection left, there’s a lot of development in the future from the 18-year-old. He’s got plus speed, a plus arm, above-average power potential – particularly from the left side, and his hit tool could be above-average down the line, too.

Victor Acosta is very farm from reaching the big leagues. He’s basically just now getting his career started and he’s still just 18-years-old. He’s the same age as kids that just graduated high school this year, so it’s likely going to require plenty of patience. His age and how far away he is from the big leagues means there’s a ton of risk, but he’s also the sort of lottery ticket that has a big pay off if you get the right numbers.

He was rated by Baseball America as the Padres #11 prospect in their mid-season update. You can see his career stats here.

Steven Hajjar Scouting Report

Left-Handed Pitcher

Height: 6′ 5″ | Weight: 215 lbs.

Born: August 7, 2000

The Twins 2nd round pick in 2021, Steven Hajjar was the only pitcher acquired by the Reds on Tuesday. The left-handed start didn’t pitch after the draft last season. He began this year in Low-A with Fort Myers in the Florida State League (the same league that the Daytona Tortugas play in). He made nine starts before hitting the injured list and missing the next six weeks before returning on July 17th. Minnesota has limited his pitch counts all year and he’s yet to throw more than 82 pitches in a game, and he’s only topped 75 pitches three times in his 13 games. He’s been very good when on the mound, posting a 2.47 ERA for Fort Myers with 71 strikeouts in 43.2 innings. Hajjar has walked 22 batters, though, which is a bit higher than you’d like to see from a college pitcher in Low-A.

Fastball: It’s mostly worked in the 90-93 range this season, averaging 91.7 MPH and has topped out at 95.2. There’s a lot of movement with the pitch and combined with some deception it allows the pitch to play up beyond the velocity.

Slider: The pitch works in the low-to-mid 80’s and is a solid offering.

Change Up: His best pitch when it comes to the raw scouting grades, it works in the low-80’s and flashes itself as above-average to plus.

Curveball: A fringy offering that he doesn’t throw as often as his other secondary pitches, the curveball works in the mid-to-upper 70’s.

He’s got enough stuff that he could carve out a career as a starting pitcher if he gets the most out of his projection. If he’s going to remain a starter in the long run he will need to cut down on the walks, and he may need to be a little more consistent with his fastball velocity as at times it’ll dip into the 88-91 MPH range and that’s just real tough to get away with at the big league level today.

Baseball America rated him as the Twins 11th best prospect in their mid-season update. You can see his career stats here.

Instant Reaction

Unlike the deal that involved Luis Castillo that I said that I hated but felt the team got a good return for, these two deals aren’t like that. Tyler Mahle is a good, but not elite starting pitcher. He may have more success outside of Great American Ball Park where he just seemed to struggle all too often, and maybe he can turn into a much stronger version of himself in a park that’s a little less home run friendly. The team still could have tried to re-sign him and keep him around, and perhaps they did and things just weren’t going to work out. With that said, it feels like the Reds got back a good set of prospects for Mahle from the Twins.

With Brandon Drury, he was a free agent to be. The Reds were probably not going to try and re-sign him, and Nick Krall even said the other day that they haven’t had those discussions. A late spring signing on a league minimum deal turned into one of the top international prospects from just one year ago? It’s tough to say that didn’t work out well for Cincinnati.

About The Author

Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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50 Responses

  1. DaveCT

    My head is spinning. Between drafting four top 100 prospects, another four top 200 prospects, acquiring a number top international signees, a number of team top 30 prospects, and one or more top 100 prospects, I don’t know where to begin. I feel like we’ve won the lottery.

    Reply
    • Chi Reds Fan

      What I like is that the Reds appear to have a discernible strategy (for the first time in a several years)- tank in ’23 then compete for post season and perhaps a WS in ’24 and beyond- and they are trying clearly to execute against that strategy. Obviously prospects regardless of their pedigree are crapshoots but the ones the Reds obtained appear to have legitimate probabilities for success. After next year they will have no bad contracts on the books with many players under control for several years. Only time will tell but the chips appear to be in place.

      Reply
      • Oldtimer

        The Reds have been in six WS in my lifetime (born 1951).

        1961 was unexpected. 1970, 1972, 1975, and 1975 were expected. 1990 was unexpected.

        I don’t expect to see Reds in 2024 WS. I think they will be competitive for NL Central by 2025.

      • ClayMC

        Many of these acquisitions have an ETA around 2025. I get that our WS aspirations don’t hinge exclusively on this small subset of players, but when combined with very little offensive value above replacement at the major league / AAA levels, I can’t imagine contending in 2024. My guess is we’ll make some noise in 2025 and push in the chips in 2026 when the class of Stephenson and India approach FA.

      • Reaganspad

        81 was expected. And a few in the Dusty years were expected but dusted. Cueto injury leaves you what if, as did every move Baker ever made. Seaver was Cy Young in 81 but Fernando had that 8-0 start (finished 13-7). Seaver at 14-2 was rocking it and that team would have won the whole thing given the chance.

  2. Some dude

    My instant reaction, I love it. I thought they did well. I do feel your opinion about not liking the deal shouldn’t be added to the return on the deal. Doesn’t make sense. Dan Z stated the same thing. Not a fan of his, but a huge fan of yours. Kinda silly to attach feelings to analytics.

    Reply
  3. Brad

    It is a good problem to have, but I am curious to see how prospects like Barrero, De La Cruz, Steer, McLain, Marti all sort themselves out position wise for Reds. With shifts and analytic driven positioning, having athletes that can cover ground along with data allows players to be more versatile, position wise.

    Same with guys at lower levels: Stewart, Jorge, Balcazar, Acosta, Collier, Cabrera, Valencia, Arroyo, Minier.

    Reply
  4. MBS

    Nice write up Doug, you almost got me turned around on the Mahle trade. I don’t hate it, I just don’t like it as much as the other moves that Krall made. It felt forced to me. Hopefully these guys will make me look silly for doubting them.

    Reply
    • Travis James Maldonado

      My concern is a veteran starter to lead these young guns. Mahle was a good pitcher without the potential for an astronomical salary. Minor is not only not a good mentor, he’s not a good pitcher.
      At the moment we have only 4 starters on the roster, and its been projected we will be going with a six man rotation. Where are these other two starters coming from? When you look at the 40 man, i don’t see another obvious fit. Cessa?

      Reply
      • Doug Gray

        They were only going with a 6-man rotation until the trade deadline. They’ll get back to 5. Who that 5th guy is, we don’t know yet, but I’d bet it’ll be Justin Dunn.

      • Clammy

        while he’s struggled as a starter, I never heard of Minor not being a good mentor. Is there some inside information you have or did you just make that up?

      • Travis

        I’ve never heard of him being a good mentor. Not to mention he’s a short timer. He’s not going to be around next year. From a sports perspective guys that struggle don’t often garner much respect. Until Minor shows otherwise there’s no reason to expect anything more than someone who’s finishing out the year looking for their next contract.

  5. Datdudejs

    Doug are you gonna do an updated prospect list now that the deadline has passed and we have like 20 new guys?

    Reply
  6. Rcsodak

    Minor leaguers are darts. You hope you hit the bullseye. The more chances, the better the odds are of hitting it. I’m happy with the outcome.
    Just need to get them moving up and seeing what the kiddies can do. Or use them to get more proven/ready players versus waiting 3 years.

    Reply
  7. Kindell

    I personally was not a huge fan of the Mahle return, but I at least like that they went were aggressive. I think Krall did a really good job, and I love the Castillo trade.

    I like Marte a lot, but my favorite prospect from this week is Edwin Arroyo. Switch-hitting, ambidextrous, and very athletic, but I love his videos and how he seems to play the game with fire. There is obviously a long way to go, but I feel like there is a good chance that he ends up being the best player we received in these deals. I can only dream of a speedy switch-hitting the duo at the top of the order with Arroyo and Elly.

    Reply
  8. rick in boise

    https://www.mlb.com/prospects/reds/
    Maybe they’re a bit optimistic but they’ve added:
    Marti at #1
    Arroyo #6
    Steer #7
    Acosta #16
    Strand #17
    Stoudt #18 [any relation to former NFL qb Ciff Stoudt??]
    Hajjar #30
    Not Juan Soto or Othani :) but not bad. Not bad at all.
    (nor did we lose the contracts of Moose and Phil C!)

    Reply
  9. Matt

    Would I have loved to see a rotation moving forward featuring Lodolo, Greene, Ashcraft, and Castillo? Yes. But, after watching the 3 that are left pitch the last 3 days, and the knowledge that they’re here for the next 5 years, and seeing the returns, I’m down for the trades. Barrero is on his way up. Steer could be up this year. Encarnacion-Strand and Elly could be up next year. Maybe even Marte or McLain or McGarry. Abbott and Phillips and Williamson and Stoudt will all probably be in Louisville to start next year (unless they fight for and win one of the open rotation spots).

    I don’t think the next competitive window is as far away as some people on twitter think. If the FO invests in a real bullpen next year (a healthy Sims, Antone, Santillan, and Warren will go a long way), I think they could surprise some folks. Not necessarily talking 90 wins and a pennant, but push for 500 and a 3rd wildcard? Could happen.

    Reply
    • Optimist

      +100 to all that, BUT, unless they make the next paradigm shift and dump Moose somehow (w/o attaching him to a valued player in a trade), the fear is next year is used to clean the payroll of the Moose/Votto contracts.

      So – we’ll likely see more signings/pickups in the series of Scooter/Iglesias/Galvis/Casali/Dietrich/Naquin/Drury/Solano/Pham. Did I miss anyone?

      Reply
      • Greenfield Red

        I’d like the Reds to offer 3/4 of the money due next year and buyout year to Moose and Votto. Give them each a day at the park and save next year’s embarrassment.

        It would save the Reds 10 mil or more. Both already have way more money than they will ever need

      • Chi Reds Fan

        I think ’23 is less about cleaning up payroll (although the Moose/Votto deals will soak up much of it) and more about the sequencing of when the high end prospects will be ready. While a couple (i.e. Williamson/Steers) may get material playing time, most will be late ’23, early ’24 debuts (EDLC, Abbott, Phillips, McClain) w/more coming in late ’24 and early ’25. That sequencing combined with the payroll flexibility post Moose/Votto makes ’24 and beyond really interesting for Reds (assuming of course several of the high end guys deliver, overall health and guys like already up really produce- Greene, Lodolo, India etc.).

      • Tom

        I’m of the opinion they should keep Votto until the end, don’t be cheap on his option year either. Pick it up. Show some respect. Especially since payroll will be like 50-70 million with the contract. If they were up against the tax threshold or past their budget that would maybe be different.

      • Tom

        Chi Reds Fan, I agree. I think you have to give most prospects a mulligan year as they adjust. Some of those first year struggles are happening now and will continue through 2026 as they build their core.
        I hope they don’t rush ELDC, CES, McClain, and Siani into next year. AA and AAA for them in 2023. Maybe some well earned call ups will be in order.

        I’m really curious about the Farmer, Barrero competition and I have Senzel as needing to try the dirt out at 3b or 2B to see if that helps his game. India at 3b is possible too. We will see how much chaos they decide to implement, now is the time to try anything.

      • BK

        I don’t recall any examples of “buyouts” in MLB. The Reds will have the ability to bring in free agents next year. I’d like to see them look for long-term fits where they project we’ll have holes and look for players we may be able to flip at the next deadline (likely acquired via trades or 1-year signings).

  10. Sox

    The Reds have no big payroll commitments beyond 2023, aside from the obvious opportunity to add a few free agents is it possible Bob C is making the team more attractive to a potential buyer?

    Reply
    • MBS

      That would be cool, let Elon Musk buy the team, or any mega billionaire buy the team. We could rebrand the stadium as Spaces X Park or Tesla Stadium, just please do not rename it The Boring Park.

      Reply
  11. kevinzs

    On the surface, got way more value.
    Excited as heck about the moves.
    Little worried about how devlp.
    Along with moves could make down the line.
    Key is making the right moves and devlp well.
    Love seeing the flashes from young arms right now.
    Set that pitching culture with Defense.
    Then believe can think much bigger.
    39-39 after horrible start this season.

    Reply
    • DaveCT

      Dick Williams, with Boddy, implemented upgrades in the development program. That’s a positive.

      Reply
      • kevinzs

        Not trying be down or anything.
        Plenty more talent added.
        More chance to hit, more bites at the apple.
        All players drafted in top 10.
        At the mlb level now.
        See how all turn out, plus with all new talent added.

    • VegasRed

      The big worry is can the organization develop its talent?

      Perennial question for the reds.

      Some talent will emerge just based on LOA.

      The reds will need to sign a few low-priced FA’s at any rate.

      The reds probably have a top 3 low minors farm club in baseball, which is encouraging. It will be fun to see some young guys emerge.

      Reply
  12. Alpha Ape

    Regardless of where the prospects rank for the return on Mahle this feels like a dump, and one that was impulsive, I guarantee they good have gotten better quality, not quantity had they moved him to the Dodgers, Cardinals, Blue Jays, or wait until the winter meetings. No other GM would have dealt a player of his age and potential without getting a single top 100 prospect, possibly 2. If we want to be the Tampa Bay Rays, let’s hire their management team. I get ownership is local, had good intentions in the beginning, but their execution and vision are tough to buy into. Cincinnati is a baseball town, but fans want a winner, or a commitment to be competitive, not sure ownership is capable of that.

    Reply
    • Bdh

      Did you not just read in this article that Steer was added to the top 100? Don’t get caught up using the mlb list that hasn’t been updated since March (other than removing players that don’t qualify). It was a very good return. Steer could give you seasons like Drury is currently having now

      Reply
    • DaveCT

      Mahle ‘feeling’ like a salary dump does not equate with it being a poor deal. Three mature, successful college drafted players with positive marks is a very decent haul.

      Reply
    • Greenfield Red

      Dodgers have 7 starters when all healthy. Mahle not vaccinated. Can’t go to Toronto. St. Loius qouldn’t let go of their top guy and didn’t have much else

      Reply
    • BK

      I’ll add, C.Trent shared a tweet from a reporter indicating the Cardinals were reluctant to trade with the Reds as they don’t want to face former prospects in intra-division games.

      Reply
    • DaveCT

      True. But this is no different than a draft, or international signing, or trade. This year’s Gaul is considerable and should produce solid production in the ML’s. We just don’t know who or where or when. Same as it ever was ..,

      Reply
  13. Bdh

    Krall crushed it this deadline

    Seems like the reds are starting to think post Votto at 1B too. McGarry has been a huge surprise but drafting Stewart and trading for Encarnascion-Strand point to that thought process IMO.

    Reply
  14. jim m

    how do we know the Reds plan to win any time soon, but stay as cheap as they can to keep most of the revenue in their bank accounts? This is the types of trades that should have happened from 2014-2019… Now we go thru another rebuild and we keep watching the Cardinals have winning season after winning season.. And Reds ownership wonders why fans are not buying more tickets?? Right now I do not trust anything Bob says or his son… You want 2.5 million fans to show up? Make the Reds a Winner!!.. Losing and not being relevant for 3-5 years should not be the plan..try to win 1-2 years and go back to dumping players..Most of us older fans wnat to be around when they win again.. sadly wont be till their is a new ownership that will not lie to the fans

    Reply
  15. Steven Ross

    Think 2024. That’s when Votto and Moose contracts come off the books. Yes, Votto has an option but I doubt it gets picked up. Nobody on the team has a guaranteed contract for 2024. It’ll be prospects time.

    Reply
  16. AllTheHype

    A little trip down memory lane with prior Reds’ FO:

    “I think a couple of tweaks here and there and I think we’ll be very competitive next year.” – Walt Jocketty in 2015 before a 64 win season where he held onto Cueto and Leake to the point where they were rentals in trades and we got little value back. This caused a very long rebuild where we needed many losing seasons and top five picks in the draft to rebuild the farm.

    We should finally celebrate a Reds front office that recognizes we are NOT “a couple tweaks here and there” from being competitive, and instead traded assets at peak value and extracted a wealth of value back, minimizing the rebuild period.

    Yes, we will have a tough year in ’23. But in ’24, I believe it will be fun again to be a Reds fan.

    Reply
    • Tom

      Spot on. I wonder though how they will try to minimize the valley on 2023. I expect them to try to win somehow. We will see how 2022 plays out with the younger players, especially the rotation. If the current streak stays on course there will be optimism to contend with some work to do to patch up the roster.

      Reply
      • AllTheHype

        I view 23 as an exciting year where we’ll start finding out which young guys can succeed at the next level, MLB. There will be success stories, like India was last year, and there will be failures, and it will be fun to watch in my view.

    • Doug Gray

      I shouldn’t answer a question from someone calling themselves PoopMuffin, but here we are: Matt McLain has experience in center. So does Jose Barrero. Barrero can play a mean defensive shortstop, though, and McLain is a guy who can play shortstop if you want him to. I’d explore McLain there if the org was going to try to move a shortstop to center.

      Reply
      • Dan

        I enjoyed this reply a little more than I should’ve, probably… Thank you. :)

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