Reds Grab Mat Latos in Blockbuster Trade

12/17/11 in MLB   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

In recent days, the Hot Stove has been focusing on where Prince Fielder will go, and who won the bidding to negotiate with Japanese super pitcher Yu Darvish. This weekend though, the Padres and Reds swinged what will likely be the biggest trade of the offseason. The Padres dealt pitcher Mat Latos to Cincinnati for 4 players, including Edinson Volquez. On the surface, it seems odd that the Padres would deal their 24 year old ace, who, with only 2 years experience, isn't arbitration eligible for another year. To better see why the Padres would do this, let's look at who they received in the deal.

The one major leaguer they received was Volquez. In 2008, Volquez had a great season, but injuries and PED suspensions have made him a major disappointment since. The Padres are hoping that PETCO plus another years past Tommy John surgery will get him back to where he was 4 years ago. At just 28, it's still possible.

Volquez though wasn't the big prize here. Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal are. Alonso was the 7th pick in the draft in 2008, and has mashed ever since, including a .330/.398/.545 line in a 98 PA cameo this year. The only problem with Alonso is that he's a first baseman and thus blocked by Joey Votto. A tryout in left field at the end of this year was a disaster, thus making Alonso further tradeable. Grandal, meanwhile, is a catcher. Drafted 12th overall in 2010, he started the year in A ball and ended it in AAA (albeit only 4 games) and batted .305/.401/.500 for the year across three levels. Defensively, he threw out a solid 34% of runners.

The fourth player, Brad Boxberger, is a reliever with some minor league numbers. He will enjoy PETCO, and some scouts think he's a potential closer in the future.

For the offensively starved Padres, this is a nice haul that adds to what is a deep farm system. Alonso gives them a second option for first base long term along with Anthony Rizzo. They could still of course trade one of them. Grandal meanwhile has already shown a lot of potential at a plate, and while he's a year away, could pay big dividends for San Diego. Boxberger shores up the pen, and Volquez gets to try and bring back his career at the perfect place to do so.

For the Reds, they get a potential top of the line starter in Latos, who for now will slot in behind Johnny Cueto in the rotation, and ahead of Mike Leake, Homer Bailey, and Travis Wood or Bronson Arroyo. The rotation was Cincinnati's big weakness last year, and Latos shores that up. Latos was 9-14 with a 3.47 ERA last year. Amazingly, thanks to offensive becoming less dominant and the effects of PETCO, that was only good for a 102 ERA+. His peripherals were mostly the same from his excellent 2010 though, and a 3.47 ERA at Great American Launch Pad will look a lot better than at PETCO. Even better for the Reds is that Alonso and Grandal, while very good prospects, were expendable in a way. Alonso by Votto as previously discussed, while the Reds have another catching prospect, Devin Mesoraco, they like even better than Grandal. This trade potentially puts Cincinnati back in the NL Central race with St. Louis and Milwaukee.

For the Padres, while it's still odd they were trade Latos, given their position in the competition cycle, it's hard to argue with grabbing as much talent as one can. Plus, they can still trade Rizzo or Alonso for more assets. All things considered, it's hard to argue San Diego got fleeced.
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12/18/11   |   ML31   |   3675 respect

The Padres seem to be the A's of the National League.