It may come as no surprise but the Cincinnati Reds are not going to win the World Series in 2022…or 2023 for that matter. The Reds trade deadline movement shook the franchise, fanbase, and all of Major League Baseball alike.
As the front office “aligns payroll to its resources“, they make a flurry of moves to shed payroll and reload the farm system. Even before the moves made this summer, the Reds farms system was decently strong. With these moves, they’ve solidified themselves and will HOPEFULLY be good down the road.
Recapping the 2022 Cincinnati Reds Trade Deadline
Tyler Naquin and Phillip Diehl to the New York Mets
The first trade of the Reds trade deadline shipped outfielder Tyler Naquin and relief pitcher Phillip Diehl to New York in exchange for utility guy Hector Rodriguez and right-handed pitcher Jose Acuna.
The #Reds have acquired RHP Jose Acuna and OF Hector Rodriguez from the Mets in exchange for OF Tyler Naquin and LHP Phillip Diehl.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) July 29, 2022
Naquin has been a Red for the last year and a half after spending his first five MLB seasons in Cleveland. He was part of the Reds outfield platoon, mashing lefties to the tune of .811 OPS this year. Across his 183 games in Cincinnati, Naquin slashed .263/.324/.467 with 25 homers and 103 RBI. His OPS+ was 104 in his time in Cincinnati, meaning he was a better-than-average batter and was actually the Reds second-best hitter by that metric. He was one of only eight Reds with a WAR greater than zero.
Phillip Diehl gets another shot at making it work. The 28-year-old Cincinnati native appeared in just five games this year, pitching just 5.2 innings, allowing seven earned runs for an 11.12 ERA. He struck out three and walked three. Last year, he spent the entirety of the season in Louisville with a 2.47 ERA across 54.2 innings.
Rodriguez is an 18-year-old infielder from the Dominican Republic. This year, he’s hit .356/.387/.558 in the Mets rookie-level club. There, he has 16 RBI, three home runs, and 12 stolen bases in 26 games. As a batter, Rodriguez doesn’t strike out much, only doing so 26 times in 260 career plate appearances. In the field, Rodriguez is versatile; he’s played at short, second, and in the outfield. Most of his time in 2022 has been in the outfield.
Acuna is just a year older than Rodriguez and will start his Reds career in Single-A in Daytona. Acuna has spent his time at the lower levels of the Mets organization for his two years in professional baseball, starting with the Mets rookie ball in Florida then in Low-A St. Lucie this year. Thus far in his career, he’s pitched just 33.2 innings, allowing 12 walks to go with 22 hits. However, he’s struck out 48, so there’s reason for optimism. The Venezuelan is bringing a 0.99 WHIP and 12.2 K/9 rate to the Reds organization.
Both Rodriguez and Acuna are extremely young prospects. It will be a few years before either player is challenging for playing time in Cincinnati. Either way, getting a pair of young prospects who look good thus far in exchange for a platoon/bench bat and a 28-year-old pitcher with just five appearances is solid.
Luis Castillo to the Seattle Mariners
The top starting pitcher on the market has a new home after the Reds moved Luis Castillo to Seattle for shortstop Noelvi Marte, shortstop Edwin Arroyo, right-handed pitcher Levi Stoudt, and right-handed pitcher Andrew Moore.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) July 30, 2022
For the past five-plus years, Luis Castillo has been an integral part of the Reds starting rotation. The two-time All-Star will be missed in Cincinnati. In his 14 games in 2022, Castillo was setting new career bests in ERA, ERA+, and WHIP. When he’s on, Castillo is one of the best pitchers in baseball and his change-up is one of the nastiest on the planet. Castillo will join former Reds Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker in Seattle.
The overall feeling in Major League Baseball is that Cincinnati got a HAUL for Castillo. Meanwhile, pessimists (myself included, to an extent) wonder if when/if these prospects make it to the bigs, what then?
Marte was the best prospect in the entire Marlins farm system. By all metrics, Marte is a legitimate shortstop prospect and is rated as the 18th-best prospect in all of baseball. Last year, between Low-A and High-A, Marte hit .273/.366/.460 with 17 home runs, 71 RBI, and drew 60 walks. This year in High-A, he’s hitting .275/.353./.462 with 15 home runs, 55 RBI, and 42 drawn walks in 85 games.
Marte is the crown jewel of this deal, even if there are three more legit prospects. He has serious pop in his bat and his fielding is legit. At short, Marte has a career .914 fielding percentage. As his body fills out, considering he’s already bulked up already, he may be one of the prospects to make the move to third. Considering the Reds currently have about 10 “shortstops of the future”, someone will have to move.
Next up, Arroyo was Seattle’s third-best prospect, according to MLB.com. Arroyo was the Mariners second-round pick from last year and has been raking. The 18-year-old is slashing .315/.384/.513 with 13 home runs, a whopping seven triples, 34 walks, and 21 stolen bases. Arroyo is a switch-hitter and is hitting a notch better from the left side (.329/.396/.520 vs .276/.351/.494 as a righty).
As a shortstop, it looks like he will stay at the position. He’s a very solid defender with solid arm strength. He has some good speed and range for the position and will be a highly-touted recruit. Now that he’s in the Reds system, he’s rated as the sixth-best prospect and will start out at ACL Reds before moving to Low-A Daytona.
The third piece in the Luis-Castillo-to-Seattle trade is right-handed pitcher, Levi Stoudt. Stoudt was rated as the Mariners fifth-best prospect. In college at Lehigh, Stoudt finished with a 2.97 ERA with 181 strikeouts in 190.2 innings. This year in AA Arkansas, he’s struggled a bit with a 5.28 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 87 innings.
He has three good pitches and projects to be a legitimate reliever once he gets his control issues under control. When he’s missed his spot, he’s been punished by batters. He’s only walked 22 batters this year, so the free passes aren’t the issue. Stoudt is now considered the Reds 15th-best prospect and will start in AA Chattanooga.
The final piece in the Castillo trade is righty Andrew Moore. Moore is a great example of a pitcher who as legit “stuff” but has had some issues controlling it. Moore hails from the same JUCO as 2022 first-rounder Cam Collier and struggled last year. He pitched just 19.1 innings and earned a 6.98 ERA and a 1.862 WHIP. He allowed 18 hits and walked 18.
This year, however, he’s been significantly better. Posting a 1.95 ERA in 32.1 innings, Moore has struck out 44% of the batters he’s faced. He’s walked 17 and allowed 25 hits but he’s showing some serious ability to pitch.
Moore is slated to join Arroyo at ACL Reds and will transition to Low-A Daytona
Tommy Pham to the Boston Red Sox
The embattled and infamous outfielder has a new home. Tommy Pham was shipped off to Boston the day before the Deadline.
The #Reds today traded OF Tommy Pham to the Red Sox in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 2, 2022
His Reds career started off ice-cold, managing just one hit in his first 33 plate appearances. He continued to improve from there, building his batting average to a season-best .257 at the beginning of July. Since then, his batting line has dropped to .238/.320/.374.
Pham has made great plays in the field and has provided plenty of fireworks for an otherwise uninspiring team. He leaves Cincinnati with 11 home runs, 39 RBI, and a fifth-best WAR of 0.6.
Pham was traded for a player to be named later or cash, so we will have to see how that settles.
Tyler Mahle to the Minnesota Twins
The other major starting pitcher to be dealt at the Reds trade deadline is the homegrown product, Tyler Mahle. Cincinnati traded Mahle to the Twins in exchange for infielder Spencer Steer, infielder Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and left-handed pitcher Steven Hajjar.
The #Reds have acquired IF Spencer Steer (Twins No. 7 prospect according to MLB Pipeline), IF Christian Encarnacion-Strand (No. 23) and LHP Steven Hajjar (No. 18) from Minnesota in exchange for RHP Tyler Mahle.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 2, 2022
Mahle had high expectations after being selected in the seventh round of the 2013 draft and quickly climbed the ranks. While in Pensacola, Mahle pitched a perfect game. In his Major League career in Cincinnati, Mahle finished his time in Cincinnati with a 4.35 ERA with a 1.322 WHIP, and 637 strikeouts for a 9.3 K/9 average.
For 2021, Mahle pitched similarly to his career averages with a 4.40 ERA and 1.246 WHIP. The kicker for Mahle is that Great American Ballpark hates him. In his career, he has a 5.02 ERA, a 13-18 record, a 1.402 WHIP, and allowed 61 home runs across 55 games and 285.1 innings. Away from home? 18-20, 3.74 ERA, 1.249 WHIP, and 28 home runs in 59 games and 308.1 innings.
The Reds have greatly bolstered their infield depth leading up to this deadline and Spencer Steer is yet another addition. He’s likely more of a second or third baseman and has played at both AA and AAA levels this year, batting .269/.361/.528. As the Twins fourth-best prospect, and among the top 100 in all of baseball, Steer will not have to wait long to have his number called (especially since the Reds are trading all of its starters).
In AAA, Steer is hitting .242/.345/.385 with 12 home runs, 28 walks, and 32 RBI in 232 plate appearances.
The second-best piece of the Mahle trade is lefty pitcher, Steven Hajjar. Hajjar is considered to be the Twins 11th-best prospect and is a former second-round pick out of Michigan in the 2021 draft. He’s a massive 6’5″ pitcher and uses every bit of his height, fooling batters routinely.
He’s spent most of this year at the Single-A level and has pitched pretty well. He’s earned a 2.47 ERA and 1.076 WHIP with 71 strikeouts across 43.2 innings pitched. He has a ridiculous 14.9 K/9 average and just 4.5 walks/9. He’s already nearly 22 years of age, so it would not be surprising to see Hajjar end this year at AA Chattanooga.
Finally, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, another infielder. He spent the majority of this year at the High-A level, batting .296/.370/.599 with 20 home runs, 68 RBI, and 30 walks in 74 games. He was then promoted to AA. In 13 games, he’s hitting .333/.400/.685 with five home runs and 17 RBI.
He has plenty of pop in his bat and is expected to be a massive contributor at whatever level he’s placed. He’s played at third since after playing at first in his first professional season. At the plate, he can hit the ball to all fields, he just needs to work on plate discipline. He’s currently striking out about 29% of at bats.
Brandon Drury to the San Diego Padres
The #Reds have acquired SS Victor Acosta (Padres No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline) from San Diego in exchange for IF Brandon Drury.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 2, 2022
Drury was a massively pleasant surprise for Cincinnati this year. Initially signed to a minor-league deal, Drury has turned into the best hitter on the team (statistically). He led the team in WAR (2.3), OPS+ (128), hits (96), doubles (22), home runs (20), RBI (59), and every slash stat (.274/.335/.520). In just about every metric, Drury has been the Reds MVP. Now, he gets to join a team selling out to win at least one ring.
In a straight-up swap, the Reds flipped Drury for the Padres sixth-best prospect, Victor Acosta. Acosta is a switch-hitting shortstop hitting .243/.346/.360 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 32 games at the Padres rookie-level complex.
Acosta is a solid athlete at shortstop with plenty of speed and range. On the basepaths, he has 31 stolen bases under his belt across his two professional seasons. Considering the Reds seemingly have 50 shortstops, he could move to second base to help with his tendency to be inaccurate with his throws. MLB Pipeline believes that he can effectively develop into a middle-of-the-diamond star.
Cash Considerations to the St. Louis Cardinals
Pour one out for Bob Castellini’s favorite player, Cash Considerations. Cincinnati “traded” cash to the Cardinals in return for catcher Austin Romine.
With the injury to Tyler Stephenson, the Reds catchers have been a mess. Both Aramis Garcia and Michael Papierski have been massive drop offs from Stephenson, so they went out and bought a new, veteran catcher. Enter Romine.
Romine, across his career, has bat .236/.275/.354 with 28 home runs and 157 RBI in 447 games. After eight years in New York, he’s spent time in Detroit, Chicago (NL), Los Angeles, and St. Louis over the past three years. In 2022 with LAA and STL, Romine is hitting just .176/.222/.206 with one extra-base hit. Given, he’s played in just 14 games with 37 plate appearances.
Is this a lateral move? Possibly.
Aligning Payroll to Resources
It’s frustrating to be a Cincinnati Reds fan. Since the Castellinis bought the team, it’s been rebuild after rebuild after rebuild. They flubbed up the last one by holding onto talent a season too long due to sentimentality. It seems like that is out of the window now considering they traded away two home-grown near-ace pitchers.
They are stocking up on legitimate prospects. Is each one a lottery ticket that you never know whether or not they will develop? Of course but it’s better to have nine new lottery tickets for a potentially great future than it is a few older players who will probably not end up signing long-term contracts with the team anyway.
Most information about the players the Reds have gotten in return is thanks to RedsMinorLeagues.com. If you’re not already subscribed to Doug Gray and his team at RML, you’re missing out because they do top-notch work providing us common folk with great information about the Cincinnati Reds farm system.