CINCINNATI -- It’s no secret that the Reds are looking to make multiple deals ahead of Tuesday’s Trade Deadline as they continue to tear down and rebuild. The first move was made on Thursday evening, with outfielder Tyler Naquin and Triple-A lefty reliever Phillip Diehl going to the Mets for two Minor Leaguers.
The move offloads salary from payroll as Naquin is earning $4.025 million in 2022 and will be a free agent after the season.
“We’ve had several teams that had interest in Tyler,” Reds general manager Nick Krall said. “This is what we thought was the best deal, the best deal for him. We felt it added two quality players to our pipeline.”
Reds get: RHP Jose Acuna, OF Hector Rodriguez
Mets get: OF Tyler Naquin, LHP Phillip Diehl
Naquin, 31, joined the Reds on a Minor League contract during 2021 Spring Training and enjoyed a resurgent season. As a key contributor, the lefty hitter set career highs with 127 games, 19 home runs, 24 doubles and 70 RBIs.
In 56 games this season, Naquin was batting .246 with a .749 OPS, seven homers and 33 RBIs. He’s also missed 37 games over three trips to the injured list -- including a left quadriceps strain that cost him 31 games.
“Did a great job for us last year and great job for us this year. He’s going to be a free agent at the end of the year,” Krall said. “Definitely wish him well with his career. Going to a first-place club, that’s great for him.”
Diehl, a Cincinnati native and Moeller High School graduate who was with Triple-A Louisville, made five appearances for his hometown team and posted an 11.12 ERA before being sent outright off the roster in May. He has a 9.47 career ERA over parts of three seasons with the Rockies and Reds.
“For us, the two players we’ve got have upside,” Krall said. “First, Hector Rodriguez is a player that’s a center fielder. He’s a plus runner, has a chance to have a plus hit tool. We’re really excited about him. He’s going to go to our Arizona Complex League.”
Krall noted that the club liked that Acuna has three plus-quality pitches. Because Naquin will be a free agent, it was unlikely the Reds would get higher-level prospects in return.
“[Acuna] added 3 mph to his fastball from last year to this year. You can see him developing and growing. He’s 19 years old,” Krall said. “He’s got a chance to be a legitimate Major League starting pitcher. Those are harder to get as you climb up the levels. Maybe you would’ve got one of those instead of both, but we felt that it was the right thing for us in this organization to take a shot on two guys at the lower levels.”
Cincinnati is expected to make more moves in the coming days with two starting pitchers -- Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle -- and third baseman Brandon Drury appearing to be in high demand. The club could also deal several others as it looks to offload payroll and stockpile young talent and prospects.
“For us, we need to make sure that we're continuously stocking that player pipeline,” Krall said. “And having conversations about those players doesn't mean we're going to trade them, doesn't mean we're not going to trade them. We're working right now to figure out how we can do the best we can to build us for long-term and sustainable success.”
Trade conversations have accelerated since just before the All-Star break and have only intensified.
“Over the last week, it's just everybody's trying to improve their club from either short term or long term,” Krall said. “For us, it's trying to make sure that we're making the best deals possible with anybody we move. So, it's just trying to make sure that we have conversations with every club, making sure that we're running everything down and leaving no stone unturned.”