CINCINNATI — The Reds acquired right-handed starter Mat Latos from San Diego on Saturday for a package of four players, including infielder Yonder Alonso and right-handed starter Edinson Volquez.
Cincinnati wanted to acquire a front-of-the-rotation starter in free agency. Latos went 9-14 with a 3.47 ERA for the Padres last season, finishing among the NL leaders in ERA and strikeouts.
The Reds gave up two of their top prospects — first-round picks Alonso and catcher Yasmani Grandal — in order to get Latos in their first deal of the offseason. He joins a rotation that includes right-handers Johnny Cueto and Bronson Arroyo.
“Mat is a big, strong young pitcher with electric stuff,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “We consider him to be a potential No. 1 starter who, contractually, we have under control for four more years. To acquire a pitcher who is ready to fit into the top of a rotation, you have to give up talent.”
Latos tied a major league record by allowing two or fewer runs in 15 consecutive starts in 2010. Last season, he held right-handed batters to a .204 average and made 20 quality starts, tied for most on the Padres.
“Our young starting pitching depth allowed us to make a move like this,” Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said. “We’ve added four credentialed young players who can help us win in the short and long term.”
Alonso, the seventh overall pick in 2008, didn’t have a place to play with Joey Votto a mainstay at first base. The Reds moved him to left field briefly last season, but he struggled defensively. The 24-year-old Alonso batted .330 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 47 games.
Volquez was coming off a disappointing season, going 5-7 with a 5.71 ERA. The Reds got him from Texas in the trade for Josh Hamilton in December 2007. Volquez went 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA in 2008, when both he and Hamilton made the All-Star teams. Volquez needed reconstructive elbow surgery the following year and has never gotten back into form.
Grandal, the 12th overall pick in 2010, batted .305 with 14 homers and 68 RBIs at Class A, Double-A and Triple-A last season, making a quick rise through the farm system.
The Reds also gave up right-handed reliever Brad Boxberger, who went 2-4 with 11 saves and a 2.03 ERA last season at Double-A and Triple-A.