In December, Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reported that a rival executive of the Reds stated that they were aggressively pursuing prospect-for-prospect trades with many teams. The Reds have an abundance of middle infield prospects and infielders in their organization. Most of these players can only play shortstop or 3rd, with 2nd locked up by Jonathan India (for now).
The Reds have 12 Non-First base infielders in their top 30 prospects. For the most part, it would be a safe assumption that Elly De La Cruz, Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo, and Cam Collier are untouchable. The Reds do not have many outfielders who will be in the majors sooner than two years from now. They also just have a lack of outfield talent. Senzel is probably in his last season. If he even makes the team, it may be as a utility player. Jake Fraley and Tj Friedl are both solid bats but are average on defense. Fraley is already 28, and Friedl has been inconsistent. Mike Siani is the best option for our outfield, as he has been one of our top prospects since we drafted him. However, he made his major league debut last year and recorded 24 at-bats. Wil Meyers was recently signed by the Reds and is sure to see a lot of playing time, especially against LHP. However, he is 32, and if he plays well, he is almost certain to be traded out of the Queen City by the trade deadline.
I will use https://www.baseballtradevalues.com/ to go through a few of my favorite trade scenarios.
A top 15 prospect from the loaded Arizona Diamondbacks outfield talent. Fletcher is a high average good power hitter. He has a good arm and can play all three outfield spots. In 2022, he split his time between Double-A and Triple-A. He batted a combined .312 with 12 homers and 73 RBIs. He is 25 but is a former third-round pick with good speed, great instincts, and a bat that could produce in Great American Ballpark.
Torres spent all year in Dayton, splitting time with Elly De La Cruz until Cruz left for Chattanooga. He is seen as a defense-first shortstop with elite speed. He still has average power with 13 homers but a minor league career with a .255 batting average. The diamondbacks may not be too enticed since Torres is still about two years away, but it would be worth a shot for the Reds to unload one of their shortstops.
Alec Thomas is a name I really like. He plays gold glove-caliber defense and has a great bat. He played 113 games for the Diamondbacks last year. He only hit .231 but had eight homers and 41 RBIs. However, he has never hit below .300 in any level of the minor leagues. He has great speed and good defensive instincts. It’s unlikely that the diamondbacks would give up Thomas, but it would be worth an offer.
Matt McLain is the Reds’ 2021 first-round draft pick. He spent four years at UCLA and is considered by many to be almost Major league ready. Last year in a full year in Double-A Chatanooga, he batted .232 with 17 homers and 58 RBIs. Major league-ready infielders are what the Diamondbacks are reported to want in return for their outfielders. McLain plays shortstop well defensively and has a lot of power. One thing to keep in mind is that McLain will likely have to move positions if he were to stay in the Reds organization due to the up-and-coming Elly de la Cruz. Jay Allen is a freak athlete in the outfield with five-star tools after playing and being recruited in High School in Football, Baseball, and Basketball. However, he is still in Single-A, so he is at least two years removed from making an impact. Cabrera is a rookie ball shortstop who the Reds signed out of Venezuela in 2021. He plays great defense and has power and great ball contact. His downside is he is 17, and barring a Juan Soto-type run, it would be hard to see him making an impact for probably four to five years. It may be smart for the Reds to trade him while his value is high.
Dairon Blanco is a solid outfielder who has consistently produced at all levels of the minors. Last year in a full year in Triple-A, he batted .301 with 14 homers and 61 RBIs. He plays all three outfield spots and has average defense. The Royals already have a few established outfielders and more coming up. They would likely be okay moving on from Blanco for the right price.
Ivan Johnson is a solid Double-A second baseman who split time with McLain and Elly De la Cruz last year in Chattanooga. His career numbers in 175 games between A, A+, and AA are a .261 average with 20 homers and 81 RBIs. He is a switch hitter who plays good enough defense to play shortstop but was moved to second for De la Cruz and McLain. The Royals have Bobby Whit, so they would not need Johnson at short, either. However, second base for them is most likely open.
It may be too early for the Reds to give up on power-hitting OF Austin Hendrick and Shortstop Jose Barrero, but it’s almost too late to give up Senzel for any value. Hendrick was a first-round pick who has struggled with strikeouts and average, even with A+ being his highest level. Barrero was a former Reds top prospect who had great minor league seasons, but his offense has never transferred against major league pitching. Nick Senzel was also a former first-round pick who has only played 100 games in a season once in his 5-year career. He has shown flashes of why he was a first-round pick, but it has never lasted more than a week or two.
Jo Adell was a former top-10 prospect in all of baseball who has great Triple-A numbers but has, like Barerro, not had his offensive game transfer to the majors. The Angels may not be ready to give up on Adell yet, but they could opt to sign Free Agent outfielders who have already shown they can produce compared to Adell. Murphy is a former Vanderbilt pitcher with a relief-only role but can reach 99 with good offspeed. It is not often you see relievers make the top 30 prospects for a team, but he is an exception.
The Angels need a shortstop for depth and could use an Outfield Prospect to replace Adell. Senzel is also a major-league talent and could probably benefit from a new start somewhere. The same could be said for Jose Barrero, as the expectations to be the shortstop of the future may have been too much weight for him. It may be unlikely the Angels will accept something like this unless they are ready for a new direction at a few positions.
Hopefully, the Reds bite at the opportunity to improve the 2023 club and the future by trading our abundance of infield talent for outfield talent. It may seem logical to move some infielders to the outfield, but that may not always work. We will see if Nick Krall can fleece anyone this time.