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Reds get Hoffman, top 30 prospect in trade

@m_sheldon
November 25, 2020

CINCINNATI -- The Reds completed a trade on Wednesday that sent relief pitcher Robert Stephenson and Minor League outfielder Jameson Hannah to the Rockies for pitcher Jeff Hoffman and Minor League pitcher Case Williams. For the two Major League pitchers in the deal, it appears to be a change-of-scenery move

CINCINNATI -- The Reds completed a trade on Wednesday that sent relief pitcher Robert Stephenson and Minor League outfielder Jameson Hannah to the Rockies for pitcher Jeff Hoffman and Minor League pitcher Case Williams.

For the two Major League pitchers in the deal, it appears to be a change-of-scenery move with both players also being out of options.

Hoffman, 27, was originally the ninth overall pick of the Blue Jays in the 2014 MLB Draft. At the 2015 Trade Deadline, he was the centerpiece of the deal that sent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from Colorado to Toronto.

“We feel he can give us multiple innings in a relief role or potentially a fifth-starter’s spot,” Reds general manager Nick Krall said. “He’s versatile with what he does, and he’s got pretty good stuff... We’re excited to get him and see what we can do to work with him and see him make progressions.”

The Reds covet pitchers with high spin rates and Hoffman fits that bill along with having a good curveball potential. But in 68 career games, including 38 starts, he was 10-16 with a 6.40 ERA. In a career-high 16 relief appearances during the 2020 season, he was 2-1 with a 9.28 ERA after posting a 0.93 ERA over his first five games.

“Hoffman is mostly fastball-curveball-changeup right now,” Krall said. “If he reaches his full potential, you’ve got a guy who is a solid big league starter at the end of the day. If he can be a good bullpen guy, it’s a good weapon for us to have.”

Hoffman has worked at Driveline Baseball -- the performance center in Seattle that was founded by Reds pitching coordinator Kyle Boddy -- and felt like he was close to finding consistency on the mound.

“Kyle Boddy and Eric Jagers are both Driveline guys that I've worked with in the past. And I'm really excited to be with them full time, and to really unlock anything left that I haven't,” Hoffman said. “I think the main thing is the opportunity and I'm going to get to go out and be myself and really trying to get back to what got me here in the first place. I'm really excited to get to work with all those guys; we've worked together multiple times in the past up in Seattle. Every time I've gone [to Driveline], I've come back with something new that I really like and I'm just really excited to have those guys on my side.”

A native of suburban Denver, the 18-year-old Williams was a fourth-round selection by the Rockies in the 2020 MLB Draft.

“Case Williams is a kid that we were going to take in the fourth round and Colorado picked our pocket right ahead of us,” Krall said. “Our guys really liked him. He’s a big, strong high school kid that’s got good stuff. He’s got a chance to have three solid pitches.”

Stephenson, 27, was Cincinnati’s first-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft and came with high expectations initially as a right-handed starter. But he was 7-9 with a 4.77 ERA in 22 big league starts and often struggled with inconsistency and confidence.

In 2019, Stephenson was switched to a bullpen role and found some traction while posting a 3.57 ERA in 57 appearances. Limited to 10 games this season because of a back injury, he posted a 9.90 ERA.

“Robert was really good for us two years ago,” Krall said. “He struggled a little bit this year, but I think it’s just two guys that I think both parties felt a solid change of scenery might help each other’s club out.”

Cincinnati's No. 15 prospect, the 23-year-old Hannah was acquired in the 2019 Trade Deadline deal that sent pitcher Tanner Roark to Oakland. In 133 games at Class A Advanced in ’19, he batted .224 with a .708 OPS, two home runs, 37 RBIs and 28 doubles.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.