Reds Fire Sale? Eight Players Red Sox Could Target If Cincinnati Sells

Could Boston trade for Luis Castillo or Joey Votto?


Nov 11, 2021

The Cincinnati Reds sure seem to be on the precipice of a full-blown rebuild despite contending for most of the 2021 Major League Baseball season. And if they take the plunge, the Boston Red Sox should be among the teams making phone calls to gauge the availability of certain players.

The Reds just went 83-79, finishing in third place in the National League Central, 12 games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. They also finished third in the NL wild-card race, which the Los Angeles Dodgers (106-56) and St. Louis Cardinals (90-72) ultimately ran away with down the stretch.

Yet all signs point toward Cincinnati cutting costs this offseason, which could pave the way for several trades, including a possible deal involving a longtime franchise cornerstone and a potential blockbuster centered around the organization’s ace. It’s a sharp turn from recent years when the Reds positioned themselves over the winter to push for the MLB playoffs.

The Reds’ fire sale, so to speak, began recently with the franchise trading catcher Tucker Barnhart to the Detroit Tigers and allowing Wade Miley to be claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs. MLB insider Jon Heyman reported this week Cincinnati was signaling a willingness to discuss in trades anyone making significant money, a notable development for Boston and any other club looking to augment its roster in the hopes of contending for a 2022 World Series title.

So, who could the Reds theoretically deal away that might be of interest to the Red Sox? Let’s examine eight players, starting with one who already is drawing trade interest, per reports.

Luis Castillo, SP
Castillo, a 2019 All-Star, fell on hard times to begin 2021, but he bounced back as the season progressed, showing again why he’s one of the better starting pitchers across MLB. The Reds really could expedite their rebuild by trading Castillo, and MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported this week Cincinnati is willing to engage in talks on the hard-throwing right-hander. Of course, the cost of acquisition for Castillo figures to be extremely high given that he turns just 29 in December, has a front-of-the-rotation track record and is under club control through 2023 at a very reasonable price.

Sonny Gray, SP
Gray’s previous stint in the American League East — with the New York Yankees in 2017-18 — didn’t go too well, but the former Oakland Athletics ace since has rebounded nicely with Cincinnati. There’s some risk involved, as injuries have been an issue at times, and Gray might not be a front-line starter upon entering his age-32 season. But he’s still been solid and is slated to earn just north of $10 million in 2022 with a $12 million club option for 2023.

Tyler Mahle, SP
Mahle probably is the least likely of the three starters mentioned in this space to be moved. He’s the youngest (27), under club control through 2023 (projected to make $5.6 million in 2022) and flashed elite swing-and-miss potential in 2021, when he racked up 210 strikeouts over 180 innings. It’s premature to slap an “ace” label on Mahle, and perhaps he’ll never achieve such status. But his upside is apparent, backed by spin rates many MLB teams covet nowadays.

Amir Garrett, RP
There really are several relievers one could point to as trade candidates, each with their own flaws and selling points. We’ll roll with Garrett for the purpose of this exercise because the 29-year-old left-hander once looked like Cincinnati’s closer of the future with Raisel Iglesias departing and he’s projected to earn $2.2 million in 2022, a number the Reds might be keen on shedding after his disappointing 2021.

Joey Votto, 1B
Votto turned 38 in September. He’s a homegrown Reds legend coming off his 15th season with Cincinnati, and as such, it’s hard to imagine him wearing a different uniform. That said, it would be negligent for the Reds not to consider trading the veteran first baseman if they’re truly rebuilding, for he has two years and $50 million remaining on his contract (plus a $20 million club option for 2024). Now would be a good time to move the six-time All-Star, seeing as he just turned back the clock in 2021 by totaling 36 home runs, 99 RBIs and a .938 OPS.

Jesse Winker, OF
Winker is a true impact bat, perfect for a designated hitter role or an outfield where his defensive shortcomings won’t be exposed. He’s coming off an age-28 season in which he batted .305 with 24 home runs, 71 RBIs and a .949 OPS while earning his first career All-Star selection. The left-handed slugger struggled against southpaws but feasted versus righties. He’s projected to earn $6.8 million in 2022 and isn’t eligible for free agency until 2024.

Eugenio Suárez, SS/3B
Teams probably aren’t lining up to acquire Suárez, a one-trick pony who sells out for power and brings nothing to the table defensively. The 30-year-old is owed more than $11 million in each of the next three seasons and comes with a $15 million club option for 2025. But he was an All-Star in 2018 and slugged 49 home runs in 2019, in addition to launching 31 long balls in 2021. Absorbing a significant chunk of Suárez’s contract could be one way for a team to essentially buy prospect capital, although it really would be counterproductive for the Reds to relinquish high-upside farmhands during a rebuild, even if it means eliminating bad money from the books.

Mike Moustakas, 2B/3B
The Suárez situation basically applies to Moustakas, as well. His stock has bottomed out after a rough 2021 plagued by injuries, and there’s little to suggest he’ll bounce back in 2022 at age 33. Plus, he’s owed $16 million next season, $18 million in 2023 and has a $20 million club option for 2024. The Reds probably will have a difficult time trading Moustakas — a three-time All-Star who, to his credit, hit 35 home runs with an .845 OPS in 2019 — unless they swallow a large amount of cash or package him as part of a more extensive deal involving more coveted assets.

Thumbnail photo via Albert Cesare/The Enquirer via USA TODAY Sports Images
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