Blog Entry

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 11:54 am
Mat Latos

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every trade happens for a reason -- or two reasons, actually. One for each side. With Saturday's big deal between the Reds and Padres, we'll look at the reasons for both sides. You can read the Padres' reasons here, but here's why the Reds sent four players to San Diego for right-hander Mat Latos:

When the Reds won the National League Central in 2010, Edinson Volquez was their starter in Game 1 of the National League division series against the Phillies against Roy Halladay. Halladay, of course, no-hit the Reds that night, while Volquez was lifted before the end of the second inning, having allowed four earned runs and was saddled with the loss. The need for a true No. 1 was evident even before that game, but became more dire afterward.

In 2011, Johnny Cueto took a step forward and showed he may be the future ace the team needed. But it still needed a No. 2 -- enter Latos. The 24-year-old went 14-10 in 2010 with a 2.92 ERA and was a Cy Young candidate in 2010. He took a bit of a step back in 2011, going 9-14 with a 3.47, with his walk rate increasing by half a walk per nine innings and his stirkeout rate dropping just a tad more than that. 

Saturday, Latos said he learned from his 2011 to trust himself and not worry about where he was pitching or who he was pitching against. The results show someone who may have learned, going 5-10 with a 4.04 ERA in the first half of the season and 4-4 with a 2.87 ERA in the second half, and bettering his strikeout-to-walk ration from 2.45 before the All-Star break and 3.83 afterward. Opponents' batting average on balls in play dropped dramatically from .314 to .258 in the second half, but his strikeouts also increased. 

Devin MesoracoReds general manager Walt Jocketty said he felt Latos could pitch in Great American Ball Park, which is about as different from the pitcher-friendly Petco Park as you can get.

There's no question that Latos improves the Reds' rotation, joining Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey -- as well as Aroldis Chapman, who will be used as a starter in spring training, at least. But that's not the only reason the Reds made the move.

First of all, Latos will be a Red for years to come. He's under team control through 2015 and isn't arbitration eligible until the 2013 season. He's also just 24, having celebrated his 24th birthday little more than a week ago.

By dealing Alonso and Volquez, the Reds now have more money to play with in free agency or to take on salary. Alonso signed a big-league deal after being drafted and is due $1 million in 2012, while Volquez is arbitration-eligible and could make as much as $2.5 million next season, while paying Latos at or near the minimum.

Like Alonso, Yasmani Grandal signed a big-league deal after he was drafted, so the net move is two more spots on the team's 40-man roster.

"We've got some things on the back burner and the front burner," Jocketty said. "We're trying to do one more deal for pitching and we're looking at potential free agents for offense."

The roster spots and money cleared give the Reds a little more room to make those kinds of deals. They do have fewer prospects, though. The Reds still need a closer (or could use Chapman) and are looking to upgrade their left field options.

Alonso, Grandal and reliever Brad Boxberger were all ranked as top 10 prospects in the Reds system for 2012 by Baseball America. It's a heck of a haul for the Padres. That said, the top two prospects -- Alonso and Grandal -- at least, were redundant to the Reds. 

Alonso is the team's top prospect at first base, but the Reds already have an MVP at first base -- or at least they do for the next two seasons before Joey Votto becomes a free agent. He tried to play left field, but not too many in the Reds organization felt he could actually do it.

And then there's Grandal, the team's top pick in the 2010 draft. The switch-hitting catcher was rated the fourth-best prospect in the Reds' system, but the second-best catcher behind Devin Mesoraco (pictured). The Reds allowed Ramon Hernandez to exit via free agency because Mesoraco no longer has anything to prove at the minor-league level and can team with Ryan Hanigan as a solid catching tandem for the next couple of years. Hanigan, a very good defensive catcher with a good on-base percentage, is under team control through 2014.

While Boxberger is seen as a possible closer, he's still a reliever, and a Triple-A one at that. Jocketty said without Boxberger the deal probably wouldn't get done, and if the Reds really wanted to get Latos, Boxberger wasn't going to stand in the way.

And then there's Volquez. The Reds sent Volquez to Triple-A twice in 2011 to try to get his control issues straightened out, but he never seemed to get it fixed. Voqluez wasn't being counted on in the rotation and didn't really have a place on the roster -- and could cost some money.

There's no doubt the Reds paid dearly -- more than one front-office person told me the Reds grossly overpaid and I tend to agree -- but Jocketty dealt from positions of depth. The deal could hurt the Reds, but losing those players may not hurt them as much as it would another team. The 2012 Reds are better today than they were Friday. With Votto's time in Cincinnati apparently closing in on its last two years, the Reds wanted to make a play in the National League Central that no longer has Albert Pujols, may not have Ryan Braun for 50 games and could still lose Prince Fielder, and they did that by adding Latos.

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Since: Feb 4, 2007
Posted on: December 18, 2011 2:37 pm

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

It's a great deal if the Reds were one or two players away from competing for a world series, but that is not the case! For a team that has to rely on it's farm system to stay competitive, it's a set back! Latos is good, but in 2010 the Padres had to push his innings more than they should have because they were in the race until the last day of the season and he wore down and didn't come back from it until about mid season in 2011. It's no given that he can stay healthy! What if he does get hurt? I like that they are trying but you never want to be desperate and the reds were desperate! I still see the cards as the favorite in the central even w/o Pujols! If the Reds don't win the division in the next two years be ready for a repeat of the late 90's and mid 2000's! When Votto leaves and he will, your going to be getting the Scott Hattebergs of the baseball world! Everyone is saying the Reds are all in for the next two years, the question is do they really have a winning hand?

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: December 18, 2011 11:17 am

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

It really is impossible to judge if this was a good trade or not at this point. It seems that the Reds gave up a lot to get Latos, but Latos seems like the real deal. Cincy has another top starting pitcher, a reliable closer, and a pretty good offensive team. Can this move put them in the playoffs? Possibly. As for the Padres, they are going nowhere next year. They got a really good package for Latos. Can this help them down the road? Probably. A trade cannot really be judged at the time it is made. It seems as if Cincy gave up a lot. If they were to win the World Series? They gave up very little. We will see.

Since: Dec 27, 2007
Posted on: December 18, 2011 11:09 am

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

There's no doubt the Reds payed dearly -- more than one front-office person told me the Reds grossly overpaid and I tend to agree -- but Jocketty dealt from positions of depth. The deal could hurt the Reds, but losing those players may not hurt them as much as it would another team. The 2012 Reds are better today than they were Friday. With Votto's time in Cincinnati apparently closing in on its last two years, the Reds wanted to make a play in the National League Central that no longer has , may not have for 50 games and could still lose , and they did that by adding Latos.

No they paid dearly. Honestly, does anyone on this site know about language? It's unreal how many mistakes are made by so-called professional writers. Doesn't anyone proof-read? Aren't there any editors on site?

As for Latos...

The Reds got a true ace. Unlike Cueto, this guy has 20 win capability. The downside is Dusty Baker is manager and no one is worse with pitchers. Latos may suffer until Baker is finally fired.

The Reds were going nowhere with their rotation. Now they've added a potential stud and they still have Votto, Phillips, Stubbs, Bruce and Heisey. They also have power arms in Masset and Chapman in the backend of their pen. Their hope is to match the Braves dynamic duo. Latos, Cueto, Leake, Arroyo and Bailey has real potential. With Pujols and La Russa out of St.Louis and Milwaukee about to lose Fielder and missing Braun for 50 games, they have a real shot at recapturing the NL Central. At worst, they're a viable WC contender.

IMHO, it's a good and fair trade. That's how trades are suppose to be.

Since: Jan 26, 2007
Posted on: December 18, 2011 11:04 am

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

I have watched Yonder Alonzo play many games. The kid is a pure hitter. Get ready, the padres made a great deal. Alonzo will be one of the top hitters in baseball for many years to come. I cant believe the Reds gave so much.

Since: Apr 19, 2009
Posted on: December 18, 2011 10:48 am

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

It's not, why the Reds traded for Latos, it's why did they give up so much for Latos? 

Since: Nov 24, 2008
Posted on: December 18, 2011 7:07 am

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

I am probably going against the grain here and will say that
I really don't like this trade made by the Padres.  Mat has the
potential to be a 20 game winner but will need to continue to mature
over the next couple of years.  The Reds gave up alot but they acquired
a potential Cy Young winner.  This kid has talent and an desire to be
great.  Sometimes he will get rattled when calls go against him.  He
will mature.  Now the downside, the Padres did not get a play that
personally will be an All Star down the line.  Could be good players
but probably not one All Stars  Do not see a potential Prince Fielder type player
being received in return.  This sort of reminds me of Peavy deal in
many ways.  Lots of players who no longer are in the organization.
Only starting pitcher Richardson remains from that trade.  Padre management
continues to give away their best players.  Unfortunately they do not have
a Kevin Towers at this point that gets pitchers.  Me hopes we do not become
the Baltimore & Royals of baseball.  With their lack of salary, if you can't find Pitchers
internally you will not be competitive.  Dodgers and Giants have number one type
pitchers on their rosters.  Padres just gave up theirs.  Like I said, Padre fans
deserve better than the BS going on right now.  Would love to see the ownership
sell this team because the fans deserve better.

Since: Sep 4, 2006
Posted on: December 18, 2011 3:39 am

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

Theres a lot off good points in this article on the Reds point of view. We all look at prospects in our own way, This guy will blossom... this one won't.
Cincinnati knowing they need more than just Latos did some budgeting work here to strike again. I'd hoped for a stunning comeback from Volquez... and that may happen yet. When assessing the person on appearance and actions from the coach. I don't see the discipline to reach the last rung. He's due big money.

Grandal and Alonzo are buried with the Reds. Possibly a festering problem when they can't surpass the two ahead of them. Their both due sizable bucks for unproven production. Boxberger does push the deal to a low moan of.. "What did they give up". The Reds secured room to move again for the hitter they need which is good. If Latos excels they prospered in the move. The former players weren't adding any value to the team. Their worth must be calculated in..What can they bring on the market. More the Latos?? Probably not. And the Reds shed Salary to further strengthen.

You hear the Hamilton/Volquez trade questions now... And I thought about it when I first heard of the deal. Again there,s Money involved. Hamilton built that 8.75 mil salary up in Texas post trade. But the Reds knew he would. But for how long is yet to be determined. They don't make this move without that piece they got for Hamilton. He's shown signs of breaking already. At this point I'd say advantage Rangers

Since: Apr 27, 2010
Posted on: December 18, 2011 3:33 am

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

A friend of mine emailed this to me, quite insightful.....<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;">

I've been reading news accounts of Mat Latos coming to the Cincinnati Reds. Buster Olney sez..."acute flyball pitcher with high emotions" coming to Cincy. All I can do is shake my head and chuckle. 
When Latos first appeared on the MLB scene as a Padre in July, 2009, he had a tag of being a flake, having a bad attitude, problems with teammates, etc. As it turns out, his 'problem child' tag
resulted in exploits in the minors BUT MAINLY from his high school pitching days. Although scouts throughout baseball agreed he had first-round talent, he fell in the draft since his personality made
him difficult to handle in high school.The Padres didn’t sign him until he spent a year at Broward College where he matured. The Padres paid Latos $1.25 million a few days before he would have re-entered
the draft in 2007 Tho his temper was curbed by July 2009, he remained a bit cocky. The 21 yr old cocky stud with a 96-97 mph fastball got a speech from a couple of Padre vets who told him to tone down his cockiness.
Since then, he has steadily matured and became well liked by his teammates. So, come on Olney and others....give the kid a break. He just turned 24, born 12-9-87. Yes, I'm a big fan of Latos and have been since
I saw his first big league start as a 21 yr old in July, 2009. After watching a few of his first big league starts, I thought of him as my fav MLB player and haven't changed my mind since then. I saw tremendous upside
in '09 and he has the ability to take that upside another couple of notches in the next 2-3 yrs. I like the way he goes about his business = cool-calm-collected/doesn't get rattled, challenges hitters, 4 pitches,
good control as MLB pitcher standards go, and excellent control for a early 20-something POWER pitcher. So anyway.... I spent some time looking at stats and this is what I've found..... 
I remember him being  'ON'  in the final couple of months of 2011.I checked numbers to verify my memory....
AUG & SEPT 2011IP 75.2 inn, 73 K's, Hits 54, BB 17, WHIP 0.94, ERA 2.38  \<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;"> 

in 2011, age 23 or under, who threw more than Latos' 194.1 innings?
Kershaw 233.1
Cahill 207.2
Bumgarner 204.2 

in 2011,age 23 or under, who racked up more than Latos' 185 K's?
Kershaw 248
Bumgarner 191 

in 2011,
age 23 order, with at least 150 innings, who racked up a lower WHIP than Latos' 1.184 ?
Kershaw 0.997
Pineda 1.099  

I also looked at HR allowed since there could be a question regarding the spacious San Diego Petco Park and how that big park protects his HR allowed numbers.  
MLB career 2009 thru 2011
HR allowed17 in
San Diego in 185.1 innings = 0.83 HR per 9 innings22
@ other MLB parks in 244.1 innings = 0.80 per 9 innings 

for further shits and giggles I looked at ......Mat Latos 2010 & 2011 vs CJ Wilson 2010 & 2011 since I figured that Latos is currently around or slightly above the CJ Wilson talent level 

K per 9 inn
Latos    8.88
Wilson  7.92 

BB per 9 inn
Latos    2.66
Wilson  3.52 

Latos     3.21
<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;">Wilson   3.14 

<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;">WHIP  
Latos    1.13
Wilson  1.21   

Since: Sep 29, 2006
Posted on: December 18, 2011 3:28 am

I'll Tell You Why...

...because without winning a whole lot of games over the course of the next two seasons, Cincy's chance of retaining Joey Votto are roughly 0%.  Latos makes this club a LOT stronger...thus increasing their chances of locking Votto up to at least 4%.

Since: Sep 29, 2006
Posted on: December 18, 2011 3:19 am

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

I thought you made a mistake the first time you said Cordero, but then you did it again.  The Reds aren't having touble signing Cordero.  Cordero is having trouble accepting the fact he is an aging closer, not worth the $11MM option Cincy declined.  Nothing on CoCo - he's done a fine job.  But let's face it... any more than $5MM is a colossal waste of payroll.

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