Reds' Top 5 Winter Meetings moves

December 7th, 2020

CINCINNATI -- Because of the pandemic, there will be no formal in-person Winter Meetings held in Dallas this week. That means no lobby rumors, no mingling among colleagues and competitors and no negotiations in suites between club executives.

In past years, the hope was that all the lobby rumors, mingling and negotiations would lead to teams, agents and perhaps players going to a podium to announce a transaction -- whether it was for a signing or a trade.

There will still be moves in the coming weeks and months, but everything will likely be done over phone calls, texts and Zoom. While we await those, let’s take a look back at five of the biggest moves the Reds have made during past Winter Meetings.

1. Nov. 29, 1971: Reds acquire Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo, Ed Armbrister, Denis Menke and Jack Billingham from the Astros for Lee May, Tommy Helms and Jimmy Stewart

There was no Twitter in 1971, but Reds fans and media provided swift backlash to general manager Bob Howsam that Cincinnati was fleeced during the Winter Meetings in Phoenix. That’s because May hit 39 home runs with 98 RBIs during the ’71 season, but the Reds fell below .500 a year after winning the National League pennant.

Morgan was the key to the trade being made, and he proved why over the next eight All-Star seasons. He became the catalyst the Big Red Machine needed to reach the next level.

“We made the deal to get the balance we think we need to make us a contender,” Howsam told the Cincinnati Enquirer right after the trade. “We feel we have enough power to win. May had his greatest year last year and we still finished fourth.”

Morgan was a back-to-back NL MVP Award winner in 1975 and ’76, the same years Cincinnati won consecutive World Series. The Reds’ all-time leader with 406 steals, he hit 152 home runs for the club and won five Gold Gloves. Morgan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990 and his No. 8 was retired by the Reds in 1998.

2. Dec. 6, 1989: Reds acquire Randy Myers and Kip Gross from the Mets for John Franco and Minor Leaguer Don Brown

It was considered a stunner during the Nashville Meetings for the clubs to exchange their left-handed closers. Franco, a New York native, recorded 148 saves in six seasons for Cincinnati and was a three-time All-Star.

''We're trading two of the finest left-handed relief pitchers in the game,'' Mets vice president Joe McIlvaine said to the New York Times. ''And time will be the judge. We first mentioned it during a casual conversation at the World Series. We planted the seed: Myers for Franco. It came up again yesterday. We've had three meetings since then. We hammered it out today.''

Franco led the NL with 33 saves for New York in 1990 and had 276 saves for the Mets over 14 seasons. With Cincinnati, Myers anchored a reliever trio famously called “The Nasty Boys” along with Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton. Myers posted a 2.08 ERA with 31 saves over 66 appearances in 1990, and the Reds went wire to wire on their way to winning the World Series in a sweep over Oakland. He was named the NL Championship Series MVP with three saves vs. the Pirates.

3. Dec. 9, 1965: Reds trade Frank Robinson to the Orioles for Jack Baldschun, Milt Pappas and Dick Simpson

A trade that continues to live in infamy. During the ’65 season, Robinson hit 33 home runs, but owner Bill DeWitt stated that he was an “old 30.” Widely viewed as the Reds’ worst trade in franchise history, Robinson won the Triple Crown for Baltimore in 1966 while batting .316/.410/.637 with 49 homers and 122 RBIs and was the American League MVP -- the first player to win one in both the NL and the AL -- on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Pappas was 30-29 with a 4.04 ERA in 82 games over three seasons for Cincinnati. Baldschun was 1-5 with a 5.25 ERA over 51 games in two seasons, and Simpson batted .246 over 136 games in his two seasons.

4. Dec. 11, 2014: Two trades pay off for Reds

On the final day of the Winter Meetings in San Diego, general manager Walt Jocketty pulled off two unrelated trades within an hour before heading home. Both weren’t necessarily big at the time, but they would pay off big for the Reds.

One move was sending pitcher Alfredo Simon to the Tigers for Eugenio Suárez and Jonathon Crawford. Simon was a waiver claim before Opening Day in 2012 and became a dependable reliever. Moved into the rotation for ’14, he went 15-10 with a 3.44 ERA in 32 starts and 196 1/3 innings.

At the time, Suárez was mainly a shortstop, but he came into his own at third base in ’16. He slugged a career-high 49 homers in ’19 and made the All-Star team in ’18, a season that began with a seven-year, $66 million contract extension that made him one of the club’s cornerstone players and a clubhouse leader.

The other move by Jocketty was sending pitcher Mat Latos to the Marlins for Anthony DeSclafani and Chad Wallach. Latos was 33-16 with a 3.31 ERA in 81 starts over three seasons for the Reds, but he missed time with injuries in ’14 and was disliked in the clubhouse. Between 2015-17, he bounced around six different clubs. DeSclafani became a mainstay of an often-lean rotation for Cincinnati and dealt with numerous injuries. But he had a 3.28 ERA in 20 starts in '16 and a 4.19 ERA over five seasons.

5. Dec. 7, 2006: Cubs select Josh Hamilton in the Rule 5 Draft and trade him to the Reds for cash

Hamilton was a former No. 1 overall Draft pick of the Rays but saw his promising career derailed by drugs and suspensions. By ’06, he was left unprotected by Tampa Bay. In a prearranged deal made by GM Wayne Krivsky on the final day of the Meetings in Orlando, Fla., the Reds asked the Cubs to take Hamilton with the second pick of the Rule 5 Draft and Chicago immediately dealt him to Cincinnati for cash.

Initially a feel-good redemption story, Hamilton belted 19 homers while hitting .292 with a .922 OPS for the Reds as a rookie. However, he was limited to 90 games because of injuries, and a combination of personality clashes and special arrangements to keep him from a drug relapse irritated his teammates. In a buy-low, sell-high move the following year, Hamilton was traded to the Rangers for starting pitcher Edinson Vólquez and lefty reliever Daniel Herrera. Although Vólquez was a 17-game winner and an All-Star in ’08, Hamilton took off with Texas and became a five-time All-Star and the 2010 AL MVP Award winner.