Reds Win Big In Trade With L.A. And It Could Get Worse For The Dodgers.

Who wins the Cincinnati Reds/Los Angeles Dodgers trade?

The Reds. And it’s not really close, especially if the endgame result for the Dodgers doesn’t pan out.

L.A. sent right fielder Yasiel Puig (.267 batting average, 23 home runs, and 63 runs batted in), left fielder Matt Kemp (.290, 21 and 85) pitcher Alex Wood (9-7 3.68 ERA as a starter and reliever) and utility guy Kyle Farmer to the Reds for a couple of junior high kids and Homer Bailey: A pitcher with one of the all-time greatest baseball names…and an earned run average last year over six.

The Dodgers also have to pay $28 million to buy out his contract. But that’s okay…it only counts for $17.5 million toward the luxury tax, according to CBS Sports Katherine Acquavella…wait, what?

It’s kind of shocking actually that the Dodgers didn’t get more for a comeback player of the year in Kemp and the near rookie of the year in Puig. Puig has a missile for an arm in right field and will hit .270 with 20-25 home runs for the next 15 years. Throw in Wood, who was phenomenal in 2017 and merely really good in 2018, and you’ve got a landslide win for the Reds.

Of course, this move isn’t about these players for the Dodgers, it’s about the Reds minor league infielder Jeter Downs (who was he named after?) and right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray.

No it wasn’t. (Though Downs hit 13 HRs and stole 37 bases in 120 games in A ball this year).

It was about Bruce Harper, former Most Valuable Player and six-time All-Star who, in seven seasons has hit .279 with 184 home runs, 610 runs and 521 runs batted in his career. Or it was about Manny Machado whose career numbers .282, 175 HRs 522 runs and 513 RBIs are nearly identical. Both are free agents and if the Dodgers sign one, much less both, the payroll tax would make even the Yankees blush.

One little problem with the “sign-the-superstar” mentality though. Harper is “run into stuff” guy. Walls, teammates, the ground, bases, whatever. And he loses in those collisions pretty frequently. He’s played fewer than three-fourths of Washington Nationals games in three of seven seasons.

And then there’s Machado, who also came up when he was 19, but who has recently soured fans with his Alex Rodriguez-style of play: stepping on the first basemen’s foot and failing to run out ground balls to the infield. He’s also not exactly clutch in the postseason with one good postseason series out of six and is hitting .208 overall. And unlike Harper, who looks like he could tear a phone book in half, Machado also looks like he’s getting doughy. I think he could eat a phone book in half a sitting.

Puzzling thing about both: Harper’s wins-above-replacement is 27.4, while Machado’s is 33.8.

Doesn’t it seem like those should be higher for a couple of guys who are expected to receive $200 milllion?

On the other side, the Reds pick up a former malcontent in Puig who has toned down hyper-talented, immature jerk to hyper-competitive, loveable emerging player. And how about the Reds signing former Dodger hitting coach Turner Ward before the trade? Ward is the guy credited with getting through to Puig.

If the Reds are counting on Kemp to repeat his 2018 campaign, they should think again. With a great lineup behind him, Kemp saw a lot of fastballs in the first half of the year (.310 15HRs 60 RBIS). In the second half: Sliders, and a lot of them (.255, 6 HRS and 25 RBIs).

Just the Wood for Bailey trade gives the edge in this to the Reds. They add a bonafide top-end starter (3.29 career ERA) to a staff full of number-fives.

And apparently the Reds aren’t done.

In a news conference on WLWT, Reds President of Baseball Operations, Dick Williams, said the club is intent on not repeating a disastrous 2018 season that saw the firing of a manager and a waste of another year by future hall-of-famer, Joey Votto.

“We’re not done,” he said, “We still have resources to make this team better, both I terms of prospects and financial wherewithal.”

Good for them. At a time when some clubs are selling off assets to make room for draft picks in the hopes they can build with youth, the Reds realize they have that cornerstone in Votto now and now is the time to act.

In spite of Harper being on the market, it also looks like Washington is doing its best to improve the pieces around him if he re-signs. They got starter Patrick Corbin (11-7 3.15 ERA) from the Diamondbacks (Hey Arizona, nice job dumping your future hall-of-famer, franchise cornerstone first baseman Paul Goldschmidt). Washington also picked up reliever Tanner Rainey by dealing one of those number five starters, Tanner Roark (4.34 ERA last year).

Washington obviously thinks Rainey is better than his 24.43 ERA. I hope for their sake he is.

So kudos to the Reds and to the Nationals and as a baseball fan, I hope Harper re-signs.

There’s something to be said for stars staying with the teams they came up with.

It’s in the best interests of the game and at a time when baseball is struggling to gain new fans, the game needs all the help it can get.

L.A. already lost the trade and it could get worse.

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