With trades, opportunities emerge for young players

July 29th, 2022

CINCINNATI -- After outfielder Tyler Naquin was traded to the Mets for two low-level Minor Leaguers late Thursday evening, Friday was the start of the Reds getting a fresh look at the next person up.

To replace Naquin, outfielder was activated from the 60-day injured list following a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville. The Reds are expected to deal more veterans for prospects before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET Trade Deadline as Cincinnati rebuilds for the future. That means more or new opportunities for players already with the organization to get a fresh look in the present.

“That's part of what happens when there's constant change in life and in this game, for sure,” Reds manager David Bell said. “When things change, opportunities come up.”

If or are traded, that would likely mean a chance for Justin Dunn to be summoned from Louisville to join the rotation. End-of-season free agents like third baseman and left fielder could also be on the move in trades.

Once the dust settles, there might be new chances for outfielder , utility player , infielder Alejo Lopez, reliever  or outfielder , who is approaching the end of his own rehab assignment.

Like Naquin, Fraley is a lefty hitter but hasn't played for Cincinnati since April 30 at Colorado when right knee inflammation put him on the IL. During a rehab assignment with Louisville in late May, he suffered a fractured left big toe stepping on first base in a game -- an injury he had dealt with in the past with Seattle.

Fraley, 27, was batting .116 in 15 games before going on the IL but batted .290 (9-for-31) in nine games for Louisville on the just-concluded rehab assignment. He viewed his return as a chance to hit the reset button on his season -- and career -- especially on the mental side of the game.

“My last year-and-change has been a whirlwind of just getting knocked down with freak injuries, a lot of things out of my control,” Fraley said. “I was feeling like I got knocked down a ton and feeling like I didn’t know if I could get back up right now.”

Fraley hired his own mental skills therapist to help him after re-injuring his toe.

“I thought it was a little crazy at first, like, ‘Why am I doing this?’ But it actually ended up being some of the best money I’ve invested in myself,” Fraley said. “And it really helped me to come out on the other side of this even before I started playing on this rehab assignment and even now. Before getting to being back in the big leagues again, I’m the best baseball-player version of Jake Fraley that I’ve ever been in my entire life.”

Along with Dunn, Fraley was part of the package acquired from the Mariners in March for veteran hitters Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez.

“Jake has always been part of the plan,” Bell said. “He's had injuries, so it was just a matter of time before he got back here. … He's ready to go and contribute to our team. Going into the season, we expected him to be a big part of our team. The rest of the way he'll get that look for sure and have a chance to contribute.”