It has been a long 30 years since the Cincinnati Reds were last in the World Series, but a revamped 2020 roster loaded with rising stars and veteran talent has many “Nasty Nati” natives hoping for the best. The Reds have seen young stars such as Eugenio Suarez and Luis Castillo rise to prominence, while general manager Walt Jocketty ventured out and added veteran All-Stars such as Trevor Bauer, Mike Moustakas, and Nicholas Castellanos to his rapidly evolving roster.
Things certainly look promising for the Reds in the immediate future, but their transaction history has not always been spotless over these past 10 years.
Over the next several weeks Baseball Essential will be doing a series on the best and worst trade every team in Major League Baseball has made over the last decade. Here is the best and worst trade the Cincinnati Reds have made since 2010.
The Best Trade the Cincinnati Reds Have Made Since 2010: Cincinnati Acquires Eugenio Suarez and Jonathan Crawford From the Detroit Tigers for Alfredo Simon (December 11, 2014)
Eugenio Suarez has turned into one of the most fearsome power hitters in the National League, smashing 143 home runs through his first five years with the Reds. Suarez hit a career-high 49 home runs in his 2019 campaign which placed him second in the majors behind only the National League Most Valuable Player Award recipient, Cody Bellinger.
Prior to the 2015 season, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty traded away 34-year-old Alfredo Simon to the Detroit Tigers for Eugenio Suarez and Johnathan Crawford. Suarez was 22 years old at the time and had just made his major-league debut with the Tigers in the preceding 2014 season. He played in 85 games for Detroit that year, finishing with a meager .243 batting average and totaled just four home runs and 23 RBIs.
Alfredo Simon was coming off the best season of his career as a member of the Reds starting rotation. He finished his 2014 season with a 15-10 record and an impressive 3.44 ERA in 32 starts. Simon had primarily been a relief pitcher up until that point in his career, but his standout season with the Reds made him an attractive trade candidate for the Tigers, who were looking to return to the postseason for a fifth straight season.
The trade could not have worked out worse for the Tigers, unfortunately. Simon went 13-12 with a 5.05 ERA in 31 starts for Detroit in 2015, and the team took a total nosedive as a whole that season. After finishing in first place in the American League Central for the previous four seasons, the Tigers found themselves dead last in the division at the end of the 2015 season with a 74-87 record. Simon, for his part, would actually return to Cincinnati for the following 2016 season. That would prove to be his final year in the majors as Simon retired at the age of 35 after the conclusion of the 2016 season.
After a brief stint in the minor leagues, Eugenio Suarez made his debut with the Reds in 2015 and immediately showed improvement at the plate. He finished with a .280 batting average to go along with 13 home runs in 97 games. Suarez has become a better player every single year since, finishing each proceeding season with more home runs and total runs scored while playing in no less than 140 games every season.
Not only has Suarez become one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball: he is also one of the most affordable at the moment. In 2018 the Reds signed Suarez to a six-year, $66 million extension with a $2 million signing bonus. Having a young, powerhouse third baseman for no more than $11 million per year until 2025 is an absolute win for the Cincinnati Reds and their fans.
The Worst Trade the Cincinnati Reds Have Made Since 2010: Cincinnati Acquires Eric Jagielo, Tony Renda, Caleb Cotham, and Rookie Davis From the New York Yankees for Aroldis Chapman (December 28, 2015)
Aroldis Chapman has been regarded as one of the most dominant left-handed pitchers in baseball since making his major-league debut with the Reds back in 2010. The fireballer has already racked up 273 saves in his first 10 years in the league and figures to become one of the all-time leaders in that category, should he stay healthy.
After a dazzling 2015 season in which he recorded 33 saves, 116 strikeouts, and a 1.63 ERA, the Reds decided to trade Chapman to the New York Yankees. The Reds were coming off a last-place finish and were beginning the rebuilding process, and most around baseball would agree that trading a closer for a package of prospects is generally a prudent move.
The return that the Reds received, however, left much to be desired. None of the four players that the Reds received are part of the organization as of today. Rookie Davis struggled to stay healthy with the Reds and is now with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Eric Jagielo is still toiling away in the Miami Marlins Double-A affiliate in Jacksonville. Caleb Cotham retired due to a serious knee injury after the 2016 season. Lastly, there was Tony Renda, who played in just 32 games with the Reds and showed very little promise before being released to free agency.
The Reds ended up with absolutely nothing after trading away the best left-handed closer in baseball. On the contrary, look at what the Yankees received when they decided to trade away Chapman at the 2016 trade deadline. The Yankees traded Chapman to the Chicago Cubs and received Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, and Billy McKinney, whom they flipped to the Toronto Blue Jays two years later for J.A. Happ.
Brian Cashman, the Yankees general manager, completely out-maneuvered Walt Jocketty when it came to dealing away a talent such as Chapman. Cashman received a solid relief pitcher, a young outfielder that he would later use as a trade chip and, most importantly, the Yankees’ shortstop of the future in Torres.
Chapman’s off-field issues surrounding a domestic violence incident was a big reason why the Reds were willing to trade him away in 2015, which is completely understandable. However, failing to obtain high-level prospects that could have actually helped the team rebuild will forever haunt Walt Jocketty and the Reds’ fan base.
Stay tuned to Baseball Essential over the next few weeks for more on the best and worst trades made by all 30 MLB clubs over the past 10 years.