Reds, Dodgers Swing Holiday Megatrade
On the day that people all around the country hit the roads and the air to travel for the upcoming Christmas week, the Reds and Dodgers swung a trade that will significantly reshape their teams for 2019.
The Reds acquired outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, lefthander Alex Wood and catcher Kyle Farmer. In return the Dodgers acquired righthander Homer Bailey and a pair of prospects–shortstop/second baseman Jeter Downs and righthander Josiah Gray.
The Dodgers are sending the Reds $7 million in cash as part of the deal. It’s a significant portion of a trade that includes a pair of salary dumps in Bailey and Kemp’s contracts.
For the Reds, this trade does help them improve for 2019. And if they fail to make further improvements and Puig and Wood are productive, they could conceivably swap either or both of them at the trade deadline for prospects of similar caliber.
But for this trade to make sense for the Reds in anything other than a financial sense in 2020 and beyond (when the Reds would have still had deferred money from Bailey’s contract on their books), they have to make significant additional moves to help last year’s 67 win team find at least 20 more wins.
For the Dodgers, this move allows them to add two solid prospects and get a significant amount of salary relief that frees up options for further moves this offseason.
The Dodgers have already hinted that they will release Bailey, who was included in this trade for salary relief. Bailey is under contract for $23 million in 2019 and had a $5 million buyout for 2020. His contract extension proved to be a disaster for the Reds as he blew his elbow out the year after his extension. He was 18-32, 5.27 from 2014-2018 for the Reds.
Jeter Downs, SS
The Reds’ supplemental first-round selection from 2017, Downs ranked No. 8 in Cincinnati’s system before the trade. Even in the cold of the Midwest League, Downs showed off a promising hit tool in his first full season as a pro. He has an all-fields and average power. He also boasts the tools to stay in the infield, with sufficient range and an above-average arm that might play better at either or second or third base. He’s also an above-average runner.
Josiah Gray, RHP
Gray received a trade for his 21st birthday. The second-round supplemental pick from the most recent draft ranked No. 13 in the system before the trade. The athletic righthander boasts a plus fastball between 91-95 mph and couples it with an 84-87 mph slider that needs improvement. He needs to improve his changeup as well, but his command and control are both average or better.
When the Braves traded Wood in 2015, there was some thought that they were trying to sell high on a pitcher whose slight frame and delivery may lead him to lose his fastball earlier than most. Wood actually regained his rookie-year velocity in his first two full seasons with the Dodgers and not coincidentally had the best year of his career in 2017. His velocity slipped back to 90-91 mph from the 92-93 he showed in 2017 and his numbers slipped back a little as well. At this point Wood has figure out how to pitch with a little less velocity and he’s not very home run prone, which is key to a pitcher looking to survive in Cincinnati. He’s in his final year before free agency.
The Reds get the best player swapping teams in this trade in Puig. That’s the good news. Puig is still in his prime and will likely receive a significant power boost from the move from Los Angeles to Cincinnati’s cozier park. He’s still an above-average runner with a rocket of an arm in the outfield. But Puig also is in the final year of arbitration before reaching free agency.
Kemp has always been able to hit, and he’s managed to continue to be a productive hitter into his mid-30s. Last year was a bounce back season of sorts as he hit .290/.338/.481 with 21 home runs for the Dodgers. It’s possible that he’ll exceed those numbers at Great American Ballpark. What’s less certain is how much his offense will make up for his defense. Kemp is now a below-average runner who struggles to cover much ground in the outfield. He’d be best suited to play DH at this point, but that will rarely be an option in Cincinnati.
Farmer is a backup catcher, but one with enough bat and defensive value to be a potential backup catcher. He will likely compete with Curt Casali and Juan Graterol to be Tucker Barnhart’s backup. He was a college teammate of Wood’s at Georgia.