Cleat Geeks

Reds Retool Begins with Cueto Trade

CuetoCamoWhen it comes to the Cincinnati Reds and trades we supposedly know one thing for sure and assume another will happen after the team and city host the Major League All-Star Game July 14 at Great American Ballpark (GABP).

What we know according to Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty is third baseman and the team’s current “Face of Baseball” Todd Frazier is not going anywhere. Jocketty made it clear to the Cincinnati media Thursday the ToddFather, despite his relatively cheap salary for currently putting up Most Valuable Player numbers as the season reaches its midway point, was not on the trade block.

What we assume is the ace of the Cincinnati pitching staff, Johnny Cueto, will be dealt to a serious October contender. We expect Johnny Beisbol to be dealt sometime between when Joe Buck says “Good night, everyone” at the end of the Fox telecast of the All-Star Game and the July 31 trade deadline.AllStarCueto

You got the sense Wednesday afternoon everyone in GABP believed they had seen Cueto pitch in a Reds uniform in a regular-season game for the final time – he likely will get a spot as a pitcher for the National League in the All-Star Game. After getting the third out in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s win against the Minnesota Twins, catcher Bryan Pena hugged Cueto and the crowd gave him a standing ovation as he retreated to the dugout.

The major concern about Cueto’s elbow was forgotten as the righthander threw eight innings of four-hit, one-run baseball against the Twins. Cueto also struck out eight against one walk and lowered his Earned Run Average to 2.84 as the one run was unearned. He even retired 11 straight between the second and fifth innings.

Scouts from the various teams, which look to make the playoffs in October, in attendance Wednesday had to leave impressed with those numbers and thinking any issues with the elbow are over for the time being.

The Reds have some hefty contracts (Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips for starters). It doesn’t appear the team’s management expects to make a complete rebuild. Unfortunately, the retooling of the team has to begin with trading Johnny Beisbol.

After this season, Cueto will ask for the payday contract. Speculation is the righthander will ask somewhere around the $200-million mark. Along with the aforementioned contracts of Votto and Phillips for the Reds to make such a deal for Cueto would be insanity.

Last season the Reds were in the thick of the NL Central race when the All-Star break hit. Within the days of the break and the trade deadline, they were out of it thanks to a seven-game losing streak. This season they are completely out of contention. The lineup bats are consistently inconsistent and the starting pitching is to a point where you hope three of the five starters can last at least five innings in each outing.

Johnny+Cueto+Brayan+Pena+2jsj_ndVVlImIt makes sense to send Cueto to a contender even if it’s a “Rent-A-Player” for the prospective buyer for the rest of this season. Cincinnati could get a current roster player or even two and some solid prospects in return. In the meantime, the young staff can build experience for future through the remaining grind of this season.

Despite not making any moves last season before the deadline and what I thought were two smart moves in trading Alfredo Simon to Detroit and Mat Latos to Miami during the December baseball meetings, Jocketty would be foolish to not make a deal for Cueto with the Reds possibly (gasp) 20-plus games out of first and 10 or more out of the Wildcard. With the way the series began last night against Milwaukee being double digits behind in the NL Wildcard by the All-Star Game break looks like a real possibility.

Everyone else has looked at the Reds and said the window for being October contenders has been shut in their faces. It’s best to send Johnny Cueto off to a team who can use him for October and possibly give him the payday after this season.

Hopefully, Jocketty agrees.

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