Reds on Deadline: 'Committed to winning now'

July 31st, 2019

CINCINNATI -- Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams and general manager Nick Krall had to navigate a fine line as they made the deals ahead of Wednesday’s Trade Deadline.

Cincinnati is not fully in the race for a postseason spot, and it’s not out of it either. The club wants to win now, but also has an eye on really being a force in 2020.

That’s why the Reds were willing to take a season, plus two months, of starting pitcher Trevor Bauer over two months of pending free agents Tanner Roark and right fielder Yasiel Puig, as well as the uncertain future of No. 1 prospect Taylor Trammell.

“First of all, if you work in this business and you run a team, you better believe you can win against all odds,” Williams said of the 50-56 Reds that sit in fourth place in the National League Central. “We don’t ever talk about not believing in winning. We’re well aware of the mathematical probabilities and the projections that are out there.

“If you are going to catch up from here, your only chance is to run off a lot of wins. One of the only ways to run off a lot of wins is to have a really good pitching staff. By putting Trevor into this group, we at least open the possibility of running off a lot of wins.”

Bauer, who will join the club this weekend in Atlanta, was acquired from Cleveland late Tuesday night in a blockbuster that sent Puig and pitching prospect to the Indians. San Diego received outfielder Trammell, who is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 30 overall prospect.

To clear a rotation spot for Bauer, Roark was dealt to the A’s for Minor League center fielder Jameson Hannah, Oakland's No. 8-ranked prospect. He ostensibly replaces the loss of Trammell in organizational depth. Puig’s departure gives Phillip Ervin a bigger opportunity in the outfield.

Second baseman Scooter Gennett was dealt to the Giants for a player to be named later, and the move clears the way for Jose Peraza and rookie Josh VanMeter to play more. It also frees up roughly $2.5 million of salary still owed on Gennett’s $9.775 million contract for 2019 before he becomes a free agent after the season.

“There’s no question that we’re committed to winning now. And by now, I mean this year, next year, the year after and hopefully for a long time,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Hopefully that builds something that can be sustainable for a long time. Step one is to win now.

"Even though we gave up Yasiel and a top prospect, sometimes it takes taking a little chance and taking some risk. Certainly, it’s calculated for sure. Getting a guy like Trevor Bauer, he’s clearly one of the best pitchers in the game. I also believe he’s going to be a great fit here with us.”

Williams and Krall didn’t get everything they wanted ahead of the Trade Deadline, the only one under a new rule this season that eliminates August waiver deals. The Reds wanted to supplement the bullpen but didn’t want rental players.

“It was something we were working on at 3:45 [p.m.], I had a call about it,” Williams said. “You didn't see a lot of relievers get traded at this deadline, the prices were really high. To find a controllable long-term reliever was our goal, we weren't going to do something just on the short term.

"We've got a good pen. They've struggled a little bit more recently. That's just relative to how good they were. The overall performance of this group when healthy and intact and when the starters are giving us innings, they should be very capable.”

Already with a rotation among the best in baseball before the dealing, the Reds could have a super group with Bauer, Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood. Of those, Wood is a free agent after the season, but Tyler Mahle will likely be part of the 2020 staff.

The Reds were working for a while to try and get Bauer and stunned Major League Baseball since they are not a frontrunning team.

“It became apparent in the day before the Deadline that Cleveland was willing to engage in serious discussions,” Williams said. “We felt like, as we surveyed the landscape … if he got moved, and [Marcus] Stroman got moved now [from Toronto to the Mets], when you looked ahead into the offseason, the options for impact, top of the rotation starting pitching were going to be fairly limited and expensive.

“We made a commitment to try to push and see if we could take an opportunity here to take advantage of an inefficiency … There’s just so few pitchers that you can count on to deliver innings and performance, so we’re betting heavily on that.”