The San Diego Padres, who already had a top farm system, made a trade with the Cincinnati Reds. They traded young starter Matt Latos to the Reds for 4 players. Probably the most recognizable name in the trade from the Reds is starter Edinson Volquez, part of the infamous DVD trio of the Texas Rangers from a few years ago who netted the Rangers one Josh Hamilton. But he’s really just a throw-in in this trade. The Padres also received prospects Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, and Brad Boxberger from the Reds.
I can’t say it enough. I love, love, love this trade for the Padres.
Yes, the Padres are giving up a potentially great young starter in Matt Latos. He’s a 24 year old righty who is already entering his third full season in a major league starting rotation. Barring injury, he’s ready to go 200+ innings for the first time in his career. In the past 2 seasons, he has struck out roughly a batter per inning while allowing just 3 walks per 9 innings pitched. He was more hittable last season while striking out fewer hitters and allowing more walks. None of the changes were large, so we’ll just chalk it up to statistical noise at this point without digging into it too much.
As with all Padres starters, I’m curious about the home and away splits to see if he is a Petco mirage. Latos allowed a .641 OPS at home and a .668 OPS on the road in 2011. The only thing that really stands out in his home and away splits is a 3.50 to 1 strikeout to wake rate at home and a 2.61 strikeout to walk rate on the road. That’s still a solid strikeout to walk rate on the road. In 2010, his home and away OPS allowed numbers were similar, and his strikeout to walk rate was actually better on the road. In other words, Matt Latos is a legitimately good major league starting pitcher.
Now onto the Reds players going to the Padres. At 28 years old, to say right handed starter Edinson Volquez is a bit of an enigma may be a bit of an understatement. His career year was 2008 which was also his rookie year. He threw a career high 196 innings while winning 17 games. He struck out 206 batters in those 196 innings but also walked 93. Health has been a major issue, but he has not been able to approach that 2.22 strikeout to walk ratio in the 3 season since his rookie year. The strikeouts remain high, but he walks have been more than 5 per 9 innings pitched. This is not to worry for the Padres fans. We’ll refer to him as a cheaper, more enigmatic, right handed version of Francisco Liriano – a worthwhile throw in in any deal.
Yonder Alonso was the Reds’ 2008 first round pick (7th overall). He’s a 24 year old major league ready hitting machine who is limited to 1B and 1B only defensively. He should be able to hit .280-.300, get on base 34-36% of the time, and hit 20-30 home runs in his sleep. With Joey Votto entrenched at first for the near future and his fairly obvious defensive limitations (to put it lightly), Alonso had no clear cut path to get into the Reds’ lineup and was deemed expendable. We could only wish Chris Parmelee was this caliber of prospect.
Speaking of blocked, the Reds also included a top notch catching prospect in the deal in 23 year old Yasmani Grandal, their 2010 first round pick (12th overall). The switch hitting catcher may be major league ready by the middle of 2012. He looks like he has the on base abilities of Joe Mauer and perhaps similar power. The Reds let incumbent catcher Ramon Hernandez walk after the season to make room for one of the few better catching prospects in the game, Devin Mesoroco.
So the Padres got 2 top notch prospects from the Reds in Alonso and Grandal, but they also received a stud relief prospect in Brad Boxberger. The 23 year old right handed relief pitcher, also a former first round pick (43rd in 2009), has all the makings of a late inning reliever. He has struck out 203 batters in 153 2/3 career innings in the minors, including 93 strikeouts in 62 innings last year split between AA and AAA. There are some control issues – career 4.1 per 9 innings pitched in the minors, but that’s the case with a lot of hard throwing relief propects. He has a mid-90s fastball and a slider. This is a prospect to keep an eye on. And he’s the 3rd best prospect in the trade.
Did I mention I love, love, love this trade for the Padres? I’m not sure what this means for Anthony Rizzo’s, Kyle Blanks’, or even Jesus Guzman’s respective futures with the Padres. There are still rumors of Chase Headley trades floating around, too, so perhaps one or more of them could be included to sweeten the pot in a deal involving Headley. The Padres already had a top notch system, and now they get to add all of this talent. This is fun and exciting stuff for prospect followers!