The Big Picture
The Reds are currently 44-37 and one game behind the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central. They are just 1.5 games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds last won a playoff game in 1995 when they beat the LA Dodgers in the Division Series before being swept by the Braves in the NLCS that year. The last time they won a World Series title was a year before the Twins last won one (1990, beating the Aís in 4 games). The Reds have former MVP Joey Votto, who is also the odds-on favorite to win the award for the second time in 2012.
Why They Will Trade With the Twins
Votto and outfielder Jay Bruce provide a ton of left-handed power. When healthy, Scott Rolen is a nice bat in the middle of the lineup. Todd Frazier got an opportunity this year (due to Rolen injury) and played well enough that they are finding positions for him to play. Brandon Phillips remains one of the better second baseman in the league. However, the Reds should absolutely covet a right-handed power bat in the middle of their lineup. If there is a team that might need OF Josh Willinghamís bat more than any others, it would be the Reds. Willingham would slot in well between Votto and Bruce in the middle of the Reds lineup.
If the teams couldnít work out a Willingham trade, the Reds could also be interested in Denard Span. Reds CF Drew Stubbs is a tremendous athlete with great speed and some power, but he is the teamís leadoff hitter and he strikes out about every third at bat and is currently posting a .289 on-base percentage. (to be fair, thatís affected by his last eight games during which he is 0-28.) Span would get on base a lot more often and he could be a 12-15 home run hitter in the Great American Ballpark.
Finally, with Zack Cozart at shortstop, they may want some depth at that position. Jamey Carroll would make a lot of sense, except the Reds may not want his 2013 contract. Thatís why I think that Alexi Casilla could make a lot of sense for the Reds as a utility infielder.
Why They Won't Trade With the Twins
Glen Perkins and Jared Burton are the two bullpen arms that Terry Ryan should be getting phone calls about throughout June. Although any team would like to have them, the Reds may not make sense for either. Burton was one of the top bullpen arms for the Reds until he started having arm problems. They may have some interest in bringing back the talented right-hander, but the Twins asking price should be quite high. Perkins is as good as it gets among left-handers in the bullpen, but the Reds already boast lefties Aroldis Chapman, Bill Bray and Sean Marshall in their bullpen. Although they likely would have interest in Perkins (and his very fair contract), the would have little reason to meet the Twins asking price.
The Reds are a team that have been linked to Francisco Liriano in recent weeks. They currently have a starting rotation of Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Mat Latos and (should-be) All Star Johnny Cueto. They gave up a huge package to acquire Latos from the Padres in the offseason, so they may not be able to match offers the Twins get from other teams. Also, the Reds team ERA of 3.46 is fourth in baseball while their rotation is sixth in quality starts.
Despite just three playoff appearances in the past 33 seasons, Cincinnati remains a strong baseball community. They have a strong pitching staff in a small ballpark, so I think that the matches between the Twins and Reds would involve a bat. The Reds are currently 20th
in batting average (.247), 22nd
in on-base percentage (.313), 12th
in slugging percentage (.413) and 17th
in runs scored. Span and Willingham would each help the Reds get more runners on base.
The Reds appear to be fighting the Pirates for the division title which has to bring back memories of the 1970s when the two teams often fought for NL pennants. The Reds went to the playoffs six time in the Ď70s, went to the World Series four times and The Big Red Machine won back-to-back titles in 1975 and 1976. Of course, the St. Louis Cardinals are still likely to make a push as well, which is why I think that the Reds are primed to be quite active at the trade deadline.
Possible Trade Targets
Daniel Corcino - RHP
Corcino is often compared to Johnny Cueto, which by itself is kind of exciting. He will turn 22 in late August. Last year he was 11-7 with a 3.42 ERA in the Midwest League (Low A). In 139.1 innings, he walked just 34 and struckout 156. He skipped Hi-A ball this year, jumping straight to AA. He is currently is 5-4 with a 3.17 ERA. In 88 innings, he has walked 41 and struck out 83.
Billy Hamilton - SS
He has 24 errors right now at shortstop. OK, had to start with the negative because there isnít much of it. You know of him because he already has 101 stolen bases this season (in 122 attempts). He is the fastest man in the minors. He is a Top 50 prospect in baseball and wonít turn 22 until September. In High-A this year, he is hitting .322/.413/.439 with 17 doubles, nine triples and a home run. He has walked 49 times and struck out 54 times in 380 plate appearances. Can you imagine a lineup with Hamilton and Ben Revere at the top of it?
Tony Cingrani - LHP
Cingrani was the Reds 3rd
round pick in 2011 out of Rice University. He turned 23 years old today. He started this season at High-A and went 5-1 with a 1.11 ERA in 56.2 innings. He walked just 13 and struck out 71. He moved up to AA where he is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA. In 36 innings, he walked 12 and struck out 47. The Twins obviously scout players at Rice a lot considering they drafted both of their closers this year. Cingrani is a guy who has moved up quickly and could be big league ready early in the 2013 season.
(Note Ė These first three guys are likely unavailable, but if the Twins did send Willingham or Span to the Reds, they should expect one of them in return!)
Kyle Lotzkar - RHP
Lotzkar is just 22 years old. He had Tommy John surgery back in 2009 and is still working his way back, although he has been quite good in 2012. He began by making five starts in Hi-A. He went 3-0 with a 2.39 ERA. In 26.1 innings, he walked 10 and struck out 27. He moved up to AA where he is 4-3 with a 4.72 ERA yet in 55.1 innings, he walked 29 and struck out 58. He throws hard and misses bats. Still just 22 and in AA, he is certainly intriguing.
Didi Gregorius - SS
The 22 year old shortstop was signed from The Netherlands. This year, he is hitting .280/.346/.367 with 11 doubles, six triples and a home run. Believed to be a solid defender with plenty of room for improvement, Gregorius could be an interesting prospect in time.
Please add your thoughts and trade ideas (and other names the Twins could pursue) in the comments below!