Don't count Reds out of Deadline deals
Last-minutes trades in realm of possibility with Jocketty
MILWAUKEE -- It sure has been quiet, almost too quiet.Very few reports have circulated around the Reds this week as Saturday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline looms, and all indications are that it will remain quiet.
But that doesn't mean nothing will happen before that zero hour strikes.The Reds are fighting it out with the Cardinals for the National League Central lead. Any player added will be for the sole purpose of improving their chances of making the postseason, but general manager Walt Jocketty also maintains that he is happy with the team as it is now. "I like our club. I've always liked our club," Jocketty said. "We still have plenty of depth at Triple-A. If something comes along that makes sense for us, we'll put a proposal together. Right now, I don't see anything that makes sense for us to get involved in." Even if that's the case now, will it be the case two days from now? In his last two seasons as general manager with the Reds, albeit under very different circumstances, Jocketty has pulled off two big trades on July 31. In 2008, star outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. was dealt to the White Sox for reliever Nick Masset and infielder Danny Richar when the Reds were out of contention. Last season, literally just minutes before 4 p.m., third baseman Scott Rolen was acquired from the Blue Jays for three players. The common theme of both trades is that neither deal was anticipated -- not by the fans and the local and national media. There were no rumors, no leaks, no nothing leading to the moves.
Reds deadline deals
|7/29/09||R. Manuel||SEA||W. Balentien|
|7/31/08||K. Griffey Jr.||CWS||N. Masset
|7/31/03||A. Boone||NYY||B. Claussen
|7/30/03||J. Guillen||OAK||A. Harang
And that's how Jocketty likes to do business -- quietly.The Rolen deal that sent third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and pitching prospects Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart to Toronto was of particular shock. "We were talking about that deal for quite a while and it just went dead," Jocketty said. "On the last day in the last few hours, it developed quickly." Non-contending Cincinnati took on Rolen's sizable contract -- with a salary of $11 million annually in 2009 and '10 -- which few understood at the time. "We were bringing him here basically for this year," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You saw that we extended his contract [last winter] so it was a present and future move." While Reds players and the coaching staff are using Thursday's off-day to enjoy their day off, you can put it in the bank that Jocketty will be at Great American Ball Park working the phones. His front-office inner circle will likely be on hand to offer advice. The organization has a wealth of attractive prospects -- especially hitters -- that could yield a good return. At Triple-A Louisville, the lineup includes first baseman Yonder Alonso, infielder/outfielder Todd Frazier, third baseman Juan Francisco and shortstop Zack Cozart. Jocketty does have concerns about not wrecking the chemistry of the current roster by moving someone out or bringing someone else in. It was a primary reason he let veteran outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. opt out of his contract after a strong month at Louisville. Matthews wasn't an improvement over the current starting outfield or reserves Chris Heisey and Laynce Nix. The Reds spent the last few weeks searching for bullpen help but weren't pleased with the trade market. Jocketty, the former Cardinals GM, worked an end-around by signing a pair of former St. Louis veterans he knew well in free-agent relievers Jason Isringhausen and Russ Springer. Both are currently at Louisville working to get big league ready again and have lessened the desire to deal. Earlier this month, the Reds were very much in the chase to pry left-handed starter Cliff Lee from the Mariners before he was ultimately sent to the Rangers. Even without Lee, the Reds' rotation is in very good shape with 10-game winners Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto and younger starters Mike Leake and Travis Wood. Edinson Volquez is a strong X-factor, but is still smoothing the edges after returning from a year-long layoff following elbow surgery. Aaron Harang and Homer Bailey are still working back from injuries. And while the offense has had some hiccups lately, and has a Major League-leading 12 shutout losses this season, it still leads the NL in hitting, RBIs and runs scored. Don't forget that July 31 is only the first Trade Deadline. Deals can still happen in August, but are made more difficult because players moved can be claimed as they pass through waivers. Jocketty had such a deal two seasons ago when Adam Dunn was traded to Arizona. "I still think August is the time that trades are made, too," Jocketty said. "The salaries -- there's less money [owed] as we get closer to the end of the year."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.