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 27, 2007
Posted on: December 18, 2011 1:43 am

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

The reds did give up a lot for Latos but latos was one of the best pitchers in the month of Sept.that when it counts the most if it wasn't for him i wouldn't won my fantasy baseball league.I think its a good trade for the reds.

Since: Apr 27, 2010
Posted on: December 18, 2011 1:25 am

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

Amazed by the fact that no one has mentioned Volquez's bad overall performance since his suspension for PED's. That's a huge red flag. He hasn't pitched the same since. Plus, his work ethic was below par. It'll be even better for Cueto, taking his "buddy" away. Volquez won't rub his bad attitude off on Cueto. And I bet Volquez is kicking himself in the ass for not taking the Reds contract offer last year. That was a HUGE mistake for Jockety to offer that and even bigger for Volquez not to take it.

Grandal was expendable considering the meteoric rise of Meseraco. Who knows if Grandal will even pan out? They don't call them "prospects" for nothing.

Yonder can hit a ton but can't catch a cold. Moving him reassures that Votto won't have to look over his shoulder. Not that he was that worried, anyway. 

Boxberger is a future stud in my opinion. Adding him to the package is the only downfall I see with this trade.  

The acquisition Latos gives the Reds a much needed flamethrowing stud. It also tell Brandon Phillips, Votto and Cordero that the organization is in it to win it. Who knows, maybe Votto will want to stay in Cincy a while longer after his 2 years are up. Might also help to resign BP and Cordero.

Since: Apr 27, 2010
Posted on: December 18, 2011 12:57 am

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

Way to add something to the conversation. Maybe C. Trent should hire you as his editor. Just like your Level, amateur.

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: December 18, 2011 12:47 am

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

Did somebody last summer say that Latos had anger management issues?
If so, let's hope those long fly balls toward the Moon Deck get caught.

GABP will not be kind to a pitcher who isn't patient.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: December 18, 2011 12:35 am

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

Latos is a good pitcher, but the bottom line is the Reds gave up enough to get two of him.

 The Reds play in a hitters park, and Alonso and Grandal are hitters...  propaganda about Alonso's shaky LF defense doesn't hold much water if you consider there isn't a leftfielder in MLB that earned his position with his glove...Dusty Baker has never seen a rookie he wants to play...

 If the Reds really want to improve, they need to find a manager that can score more than 2 runs without having to hit 3 homers, doesn't use pitchers like he has 15 of them, and won't start his entire bench 3 games a week.    

Since: Oct 7, 2006
Posted on: December 17, 2011 9:35 pm

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

Now we get to see what Latos is all about, going from one of the best pitcher parks in baseball to one of the most brutal pitching parks. This has too many ways to end bad for the Reds. If Latos is anything less than spectacular its a blow-out the other direction. On the flip side, now that Alonso was made a center part of the trade, what do the Padres do with Rizzo? 

Since: Aug 2, 2010
Posted on: December 17, 2011 8:43 pm

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...

How can you correctly spell "overpaid" in the same sentence you incorrectly spell "payed"? 

Since: Aug 17, 2010
Posted on: December 17, 2011 8:41 pm

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

Reds win the NL Central and advance to at least the NLCS is 2012 - book it.  

Since: Nov 9, 2008
Posted on: December 17, 2011 8:33 pm

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

This trade should make Cincinnati the favorites to win the NL Central in 2012. However, the players (and announcers; if you don't believe it, ask Dave Fleming, whose windshield was shattered by an errant ball thrown from the pitchers mound at AT&T Park by Latos in 2010) should take a bus, cab or other form of public transportation to the Reds home games.

Since: Dec 14, 2007
Posted on: December 17, 2011 6:28 pm

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

How good does Edinson Volquez for Josh Hamilton look now?

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