What were the Reds Thinking — Todd Frazier Edition

About a week ago now, arguably the biggest trade of the offseason broke baseball-Twitter. The Cincinnati Reds “gave away” All-Star third baseman and fan-favorite Todd Frazier. The Los Angeles Dodgers collected a trio of Chicago White Sox prospects, the Reds a trio of Dodger prospects, and the White Sox snagged Frazier.

The trade looked like this:

Reds Trade:
3B Todd Frazier
Reds receive:
SS Jose Peraza (LAD)
OF Scott Schebler (LAD)
2B Brandon Dixon (LAD)

White Sox trade:
P Frankie Montas
2B Micah Johnson
OF Trayce Thompson
White Sox receive:
3B Todd Frazier (CIN)

Dodgers trade:
SS/2B Jose Peraza
OF/1B Scott Schebler
2B Brandon Dixon
Dodgers receive:
P Frankie Montas (CHW)
2B Micah Johnson (CHW)
OF Trayce Thompson (CHW)

Now sure, if Cincinnati were dealing Zack Cozart (beware of hyperbole) this would be seen as a fitting return, but to ship out arguably a top-five third baseman for a comparable return to that of former Reds pitcher Mike Leake — a number-three starter — has left many, Reds fans and others, scratching their heads.

The White Sox side of the deal is more than fine. They dealt an electric arm, whether a future starter or reliever, a speedy second baseman and a toolsy, albeit fourth, outfielder to gain a premier middle-of-the-order third baseman.

The Dodgers flipped three of their own prospects for three White Sox prospects widely considered to be of more value. No issues here.

But the Reds, yes, those non-competitive cellar-dwelling Redlegs elected not to deal Frazier at last season’s trade deadline despite Frazier’s torrid first half. Just how torrid was it? Insert any synonym you’d like, but a slash line of .278/.337/.585 with an .922 OPS and 25 home runs justifies it. Frazier then slashed .220/.274/.390 with just 10 home runs in the second half as the Reds went 27-50 and the luster that was the #ToddFather (as he won the Home Run Derby at home in Great American Ballpark) had worn off.

The result? Cincinnati forced its own hand, all but needing to deal the expiring-after-2016 Frazier so to recoup at least partial value. The issue? That’s all the Reds got … partial value.

Scott Schebler showed impressive power in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, swatting 27 and 28 home runs, respectively, but then in 2015, in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, Schebler hit just 13 HR with a .241 clip. So of course, the Reds pounced on the “opportunity.” Schebler is a stocky guy with a lackluster arm, primarily limiting him to left field for a major league club. And speaking of the MLB, Scheduler made his debut in 2015, hitting .250 with 3 HR across 19 games.

Brandon Dixon is a bit of a utility player, receiving playing time at 2B, 3B, and all three OF spots across three years of minor league action. In 2015, however, Dixon accumulated most of his reps at second base which is his likely position should he reach the highest level. Dixon is a decent athlete with a solid 6-foot-2 frame, but played the entire 2015 season at age 23 splitting time between High-A and AA. He sported a .263 average, 19 HR and 26 SB but posted a 26/144 BB/K ratio which will continue to be a concern as he climbs the organizational ladder. However, if the Reds can find a team that piques the interest of Brandon Phillips, Dixon could be forced to Cincinnati at some point in 2016 on necessity alone.

And the wildcard of the trade: Jose Peraza, the former top prospect of the Atlanta Braves. Peraza was dealt midseason in 2015 to the Dodgers in a three-team deal that brought Hector Olivera to Atlanta. Some were surprised at the Braves’ willingness to part with a promising middle infielder with a top-of-the-order skillset, but that hasn’t stopped Peraza from hitting. Across 118 minor league games in 2015, Peraza hit .293 and stole 33/40 bases and even tossed in eight triples, a testament to his speed. But, in a seven-game stint in Los Angeles late in the season, Peraza hit just .182 with two extra-base hits. Which poses the question yet again … will Jose Peraza’s hit tool be good enough to make him a dynamic leadoff hitter, or will he settle on a bottom-of-the-order home where his speed keeps him a valuable bench piece?

In other words, did the Reds get themselves the next Jose Reyes, or Willy Taveras? Only time will tell, but for now, the Reds appear to have sold short on Frazier.

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