RedsXtra: Cincinnati Reds must learn from mistakes in 2015 trades

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·4 min read
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  • Brandon Finnegan
    Brandon Finnegan
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Dilson Herrera
    Dilson Herrera
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Johnny Cueto
    Johnny Cueto
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Adam Duvall
    Adam Duvall
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  • Keury Mella
    Keury Mella
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  • Aroldis Chapman
    Aroldis Chapman
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Rookie Davis
    Rookie Davis
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  • Todd Frazier
    Todd Frazier
    Baseball player from the United States
In an early blow, ace Johnny Cueto suffered an oblique strain after throwing just eight pitches in Game 1.  The Enquirer/Gary Landers
Reds-Giants.  Cincinnati Reds' pitcher Johnny Cueto bites his tongue as he leaves the field after an injury during the first inning of their first division series championship game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California Saturday October 6, 2012. The Enquirer/Gary Landers
In an early blow, ace Johnny Cueto suffered an oblique strain after throwing just eight pitches in Game 1. The Enquirer/Gary Landers Reds-Giants. Cincinnati Reds' pitcher Johnny Cueto bites his tongue as he leaves the field after an injury during the first inning of their first division series championship game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California Saturday October 6, 2012. The Enquirer/Gary Landers

It was news that first showed up in Baseball America’s minor league transaction log: The Cincinnati Reds released Brandon Finnegan, the 28-year-old lefty who hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2018.

Finnegan was the last player in the organization from the Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier and Mike Leake trades. The returns from those deals serve as a cautionary tale as the Reds’ front office listens to trade offers for some of their best players, including Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray.

More: Where things stand with all 40 players on the Cincinnati Reds' 40-man roster

Prospects are called prospects for a reason. It’s extremely difficult to predict which ones will be successful at the Major League level. When the Reds began rebuilding after the 2014 season, they were counting on Finnegan, Cody Reed, Keury Mella, John Lamb, Rookie Davis, Jose Peraza, Dilson Herrera and Adam Duvall to become the next core of their roster.

That didn’t happen.

Failing to net more value from trading key players from their 2010-13 playoff runs was a big blow to their rebuilding efforts. They’re just beginning to see returns from their top picks at the top of the draft – Tyler Stephenson (2015, No. 11 overall), Nick Senzel (2016, No. 2), Hunter Greene (2017, No. 2), Jonathan India (2018, No. 5) and Nick Lodolo (2019, No. 7) – and now their own payroll limitations may affect their competitiveness.

More: FAQ: Major League Baseball could enter a work stoppage. What it means for the Reds.

Holding onto players so long that it lowered some of their trade value was an issue with their 2015 deals. That 2015 Reds team nearly lost 100 games, so they should’ve been in clear rebuild mode. Cueto and Leake were dealt at the trade deadline two months before they became free agents.

Aug 6, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Cody Reed (23) watches the ball on a two-run home run by Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11), not pictured, in the seventh inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 6, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Cody Reed (23) watches the ball on a two-run home run by Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11), not pictured, in the seventh inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cueto to Royals on July 26, 2015 – The Reds received pitchers Finnegan, Reed and Lamb. Finnegan made 31 starts in 2016 with a 3.98 ERA, but he made only nine big-league starts in 2017 and ’18. Reed moved to the bullpen in 2019 and he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2020 after he was designated for assignment for Riley O’Brien. Reed underwent thoracic outlet surgery in June, which cut short his 2021 season. Lamb had a 6.17 ERA in 24 starts with the Reds before he was designated for assignment in Oct. 2016.

Leake to Giants on July 30, 2015 – Duvall was an All-Star in 2016 and the Reds traded the power-hitting outfielder to Atlanta in 2018 for Lucas Sims. Duvall was a key part of Atlanta’s World Series title this year, rejoining the club after a stint with Miami. Mella was the higher rated prospect in the deal, but he made just six relief appearances with the Reds from 2017-19. Mella made two appearances for the Diamondbacks this year.

More: What we learned about the Cincinnati Reds' offseason plans from the GM Meetings

Frazier to White Sox in a three-team trade on Dec. 16, 2015 – The Reds received Peraza, Scott Schebler and Brandon Dixon from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Peraza started at shortstop for a season and Schebler had a 30-homer year, but neither established enough consistency to be long-term starters.

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) delivers to the plate in the ninth inning during the MLB game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs, Monday, July 20, 2015, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) delivers to the plate in the ninth inning during the MLB game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs, Monday, July 20, 2015, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Chapman to Yankees on Dec. 28, 2015 – A domestic incident changed the calculus on any Chapman trades, reportedly nixing a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Davis and Eric Jagielo were the main prospects in the five-player deal. Davis made six starts with the Reds. Jagielo didn’t ascend to the Majors. Another player in the trade, Caleb Cotham, made a bigger impact as an assistant pitching coach.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2010: Jay Bruce homered in the bottom of the ninth inning off Houston Astros pitcher Timy Byrdak to win the game 3-2 and the National League Central Division Championship at Great American Ball Park.
SEPTEMBER 28, 2010: Jay Bruce homered in the bottom of the ninth inning off Houston Astros pitcher Timy Byrdak to win the game 3-2 and the National League Central Division Championship at Great American Ball Park.

Bruce to Mets on Aug. 1, 2016 – The Reds imagined a future with Herrera and Peraza starting together in the middle of the infield. Herrera, who was acquired alongside Max Wotell, played just 53 games with the Reds.

There is a delicate balance trying not to hold onto veterans too long and receiving maximum value in return in trades. The Rays are a team that capitalizes on trading players when they hold peak value.

The Reds are in position where they can hold a sky high price with Castillo because he’s far from free agency. But if the Reds do decide to trade any of their veterans this winter, they can’t afford to miss on their returns like they did in 2015.

More: Cincinnati Reds pitcher Cionel Pérez claimed off waivers by Baltimore Orioles

REDS ADD SANTANA: The Reds signed corner infielder Cristian Santana to a minor-league deal, which included a non-roster invite to spring training.

Santana, 24, spent the first seven years of his career in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. He hit .311 with 20 doubles, eight homers and 51 RBI in 91 games at Triple-A last season, posting a .331 on-base percentage.

He was rated as the No. 15 prospect in the Dodgers’ farm system by Baseball America before the canceled 2020 minor league season, but he went unranked this year. The publication noted concerns about his ability to recognize breaking balls. He drew 11 walks in 347 plate appearances this year with 68 strikeouts.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Reds trade rumors: Club must learn from 2015 deals

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