My (delayed) two cents
Following the huge Reds trade for Mat Latos over the weekend, I was afforded the chance to actually take a couple of days to really think about the merits of the deal because I was on vacation.
I have no doubt the Latos acquisition is going over well with the players. They were getting irritated by the lack of action since the July Trade Deadline. They wanted to see a sign the front office was going to go for it. This would certainly qualify. It’s a move designed to go for the division title in 2012, and the NL Central seems open for taking with the Cardinals and Brewers in a state of flux.
Generally, I’m not opposed to the idea of overpaying for starting pitching. It’s not like clubs are going to give away No. 1 or No. 2 starters for role players. However for what the Reds gave up in Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Brad Boxberger and Edinson Volquez, I think they should have gotten someone with more of a track record than Latos. When the Brewers parted with four premium prospects one year ago, they got Zack Greinke from the Royals — a former Cy Young winner.
Besides his stuff and ability to keep the ball of the ground, Latos’ appeal to the Reds was his age, 24 and that he can be under club control for four more years. Economically, that’s all good. He’s had two full seasons behind him, including a very good 2010. But he’s still an “X-factor” in some ways. He does not assure the rotation of instant ace credibility at the top. He has a reputation of a hot temper and has had moments of immaturity. Within minutes of the trade, two people familiar with Latos let me know about that trait and I’ve seen stories about it out of San Diego since.
I’m already on record as saying the Reds should have kept Alonso. He could have been part of the equation in 2012, and I think he would have been serviceable in left field. Although still unproven, I felt he might have been worthy of replacing Joey Votto in 2014 — should Votto decide to move on. While relievers generally aren’t missed in trades, Boxberger seemed a good bet to help the Reds bullpen this season. As for Grandal, he was blocked by Mesoraco for the long haul. I think Volquez can find his 2008 groove again, someday, but he needed a change of scenery.
The trade in the short term makes the Reds rotation better with Latos in it. I think he can become a very good pitcher in Cincinnati. Is the new-look rotation good enough to improve from last year’s disappointment? We’ll only know next October for sure.