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Fake trade: James Shields to Cincinnati for Yonder Alonso

Nov 25, 2011, 11:00 PM EDT

James Shields Getty Images

(The following is not a done deal or even a valid rumor and should not be treated as such.)

Reds acquire RHP James Shields and RHP Kyle Farnsworth from the Rays for first baseman Yonder Alonso and catcher Yasmani Grandal.

Courtesy of Yahoo’s Tim Brown comes the rumor that the Reds have started shopping top prospect Yonder Alonso in their hunt for a closer or a No. 2 starter. He lists Tampa Bay as one of the teams that GM Walt Jocketty has talked to.

The Rays have six major league starters. Neither Wade Davis nor Jeff Niemann is worth Alonso alone, while Matt Moore, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and Shields all appear to be too valuable to trade straight up for Alonso. That’s where Grandal comes in. The 2010 first-round pick is one of the game’s top five catching prospects, but he has an even better young catcher ahead of him in Devin Mesoraco. The Reds still aren’t going to be in any hurry to give him up, but it would make some sense to part with both of their blocked youngsters for a big-time starter like Shields.

Why it works for the Rays: Moore could very well turn into one of the AL’s best starters next year, giving Tampa Bay one of the game’s top rotations even without Shields in the fold. Alonso immediately steps into the vacancy at first base left by Casey Kotchman‘s departure. He probably won’t turn into an All-Star at such a loaded position, but he shouldn’t be too far off with his strong bat. Grandal isn’t quite ready yet, but he’ll likely be ready to overtake John Jaso in 2013.

I have the Rays giving up Farnsworth, too. While he was an excellent closer last season, it’s hardly a given that he’ll keep it up and the Rays should be able to replace him easily in a deep relief market.

Why it works for the Reds: It’s painful giving up 12 years of Alonso and Grandal for three of Shields and one of Farnsworth, but they don’t have a lot of use for either youngster right now and it’d be quite a blow to trade one of the game’s best players in Votto to make room for Alonso. The trade certainly has the potential to make the Reds a whole lot better if Shields and Farnsworth come close to duplicating their 2011 success. Also, the money isn’t bad at all. The Reds would get their ace and their closer for a combined $10.8 million in 2012, which should still leave them with some financial flexibility going forward. Shields’ contract is also reasonable beyond that: there are team options worth $9 million-$10 million for 2013 and $12 million-$14 million in 2014.

Why it won’t happen: One factor the Reds would have to be awfully nervous about: while Shields and Farnsworth combined for a 2.70 ERA in 307 innings last season, they came in at 4.74 in 268 innings during 2010. The Reds might want to hold out for Shields for Alonso straight up.

  1. Old Gator - Nov 25, 2011 at 11:40 PM

    Slow news day, Matthew (urrrrppppp)?

    • Matthew Pouliot - Nov 25, 2011 at 11:45 PM

      News? News?!? Where???

      • hittfamily - Nov 26, 2011 at 2:17 AM

        This time of year is what I thought it was, but HBT didn’t let me off the hook.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Nov 26, 2011 at 8:08 AM

      Gator – we’re all trying to make it to pitchers and catchers – cut him some slack. BTW, did you hear A Rod’s got a new hair stylist?

  2. wlschneider09 - Nov 26, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    Didn’t Hitt throw this idea out there a few months back?

    • hittfamily - Nov 26, 2011 at 2:15 AM

      nice memory!!!

      Yeah at the deadline when the Rays looked good, but not playoff bound I said Shields and a mid level prospect for Alonso and Mesoroca or Grandal. Under Matthews plan, I think the Rays overpay. Shields is a legitimate superstar who had bad luck last year. His peripherals are top notch. He is a lock to throw 225 ip+, and has a very team friendly deal, both money wise, and outs if something goes wrong (see: Scott Kazmir, Johan Santana, Carl Pavano, etc..) He is locked up cheap on team options, which makes his value even higher. Alonso is nice, but first base is not a premium position. Farnesworth is a cheap closer.

      The Rays have Shields, Price, Nieman, Hellickson, Davis, and Alex Cobb for next years rotation, with Matt Moore sitting in the minors for a month to avoid super 2. They also have Chris Archer and Alex Torres who both have tremendous upside and had nice showings this year. Jake McGee and Peralta could both close, so Farnesworth is expendable. Ridding 11mm of salary would go along way to locking up Price or Moore, or perhaps finding a DH, but Cincy would get a hell of a deal if this trade is made.

      A starter will be traded this offseason, but Cincy won’t get both Shields and Farnesworth unless there are no good offers for Nieman or Davis.

  3. cordellgc - Nov 26, 2011 at 12:44 AM

    the reds can’t give up that bat. I hope he learns to play L.F.

  4. thehollar - Nov 26, 2011 at 2:16 AM

    Alonso’s minor league numbers make him look like (at absolute best) an average-hitting first baseman. Is there some reason to suspect the numbers sell him short? Based on what he’s done, I’d be very hesitant to trade a pitcher like Shields for a bat that looks to have no impact potential whatsoever.

    • JBerardi - Nov 26, 2011 at 10:16 AM

      Well, there’s a developmental process so you can necessarily take the numbers at face value, plus you might want to hear some scout’s opinions on how he’ll translate to the majors, but all that said, yeah, there’s good reason to be suspicious of any first base prospect who doesn’t absolutely annihilate the ball in the minors. They don’t open up MLB roster spors for glove-first first basemen.

  5. Charles Gates - Nov 26, 2011 at 8:45 AM

    Thanks Matthew. I enjoy these exercises.

    What are your thoughts on Adam Jones? Other than Wieters, he seems like the biggest chip the O’s have. I’m not sure he’s such a stud to get a Hershel Walker type return, but is he worth moving?

    • Mark - Nov 26, 2011 at 8:59 AM

      I’m not Matthew but Adam Jones isn’t very good. At all. We’re talking slightly above average at best with very little club control which is not a good combination for value.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 26, 2011 at 12:34 PM

        He’s no superstar but I’m sure a lot of teams would like a guy with his skills in CF, and his numbers at the plate have been pretty good. No team would trade a James Shields for him but I don’t believe he isn’t any good at all as you said

    • Matthew Pouliot - Nov 26, 2011 at 6:51 PM

      Yeah, it would be a really good time for the Orioles to move him. Although he’ll make the highlight reel every once in a while, he’s far from a great center fielder, and I doubt he’ll be worth the long-term contract he’s going to want as he heads into free agency in two years. He might add a little more power, but it looks like the OBP is always going to be below average.

  6. Old Gator - Nov 26, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    Everyone is asking for Logan Morrison. I think it’s pretty obvious by now that the Feesh aren’t going to make any splashes with their calculated lowball offers to the top free agents (except maybe like Icarus) so if they want a winning team this coming season they’re gonna have to make some more impressive trades than Baker for LeBoeuf. Where might Tweeter wind up, and for whom?

    • Old Gator - Nov 26, 2011 at 10:36 AM

      Okay, let me try to answer that. In a series of much publicized trade negotiations meant to convince the ticket buying public in Macondo that they’re really serious about improving the team for the opening season in Macondo Banana Massacre Field, I see the Feesh inquiring about Chris Volstad for Josh Hamilton, but turning the Rangers down flat when they demand Logan Morrison. Then, I see them offering Burke Badenhop for Joey Votto, but turning the Reds down flat when they demand Logan Morrison. Then, I see them offering John Buck for Joe Mauer, but turning the Twins down flat when they demand Logan Morrison. Then, I see them inquiring about Ryan Braun for Chris Coghlan – but the Brewers demand Logan Morrison, sinking that deal too….

  7. firemarshal1 - Nov 26, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    What’s not like about the trade? Tampa gets two needs, with great bats. Did anyone watch how poorly they hit the ball. If I was the Reds, I would hold out for a better deal. The Devil Rays would be receiving the better end of the deal. Great batters in the American League is a necessity (premium), if you’re serious about winning. Also, the players are cheap. I think the Reds should ONLY trade for Shields for one of the players, straight up. The trade would be fair for both parties.

    • hittfamily - Nov 26, 2011 at 3:46 PM

      You can’t be serious. Shields is signed for 50-60 million dollars under market value. If he was a free agent, he would likely get just below Sabathia and Cliff Lee money, and way above CJ Wilson money. He didn’t get lucky this year. He got extremely unlucky last year, and has been very good his entire career, and is still improving. His contract is a steal, and a straight up trade for a 25 year old top 100 first base prospect would be foolish on the Rays (not Devil) part. They could resign Kotchman for 4 million, so why would they essentially pay 60 million dollars for Yonder Alonso? Shields and a mid level prospect would be more than generous for a below league average first baseman and a 1 year pro catcher. Shields and Sam Fuld for them both if the Reds want Major League talent, not Shields and Farnesworth.

      • JBerardi - Nov 26, 2011 at 6:42 PM

        “Shields and Sam Fuld for them both if the Reds want Major League talent, not Shields and Farnesworth.”

        You keep Sam Fuld and we’ve got a deal!


        Walt Jocketty

  8. scatterbrian - Nov 26, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    How about 7 years of Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey?

  9. metalhead65 - Nov 26, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    as a reds fan I would reluctingly give up alonso for sheilds straight up but not include grandal. why should they give up a great prospect just because his position is blocked right now? he just started in A ball and by the time he is ready for the bigs hannigan will be gone and he can back up mesoraco. if he turns out to be as good as advertised they can flip one them for for another starting pitcher or whatever position of need they may have then.

  10. hittfamily - Nov 26, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    I think you really overvalue both prospects and undervalue Shields. Alonso is a 25 year old minor leaguer, and Grandal plays a position that is a craps shoot, meaning amateur and minor league succes have very little value in determining his major league career. Matt Wieters was the highest rated prospect ever, and he has barely been average.

    There is a lot of risk assumed by the Rays, and none assumed by the Reds. Your deal makes no sense for the Rays to give up a Cy Young contending, inninigs eating established number 1 for a 1 tool old rookie first baseman, or a catching prospect.

    • thehollar - Nov 26, 2011 at 6:31 PM

      Thank you, voice of reason. Good to have you here.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Nov 26, 2011 at 6:40 PM

      I think you’re beginning to overstate your case now. Shields was one of the game’s top 10 pitchers last year, but it’s the first time he’s ever performed at that level. He has a career ERA of 3.96 while working half of the time in a park that’s very favorable for pitchers. He also has a fringy fastball, and it’s anyone’s guess what might happen when he loses a couple of mph. As impressive as his strikeout rates have been recently, he’s far from a traditional power pitcher.

      Given his durability and his contract, he still has a great deal of value even if he reverts to 2008-09 form next season. And I think that’s the more likely scenario than him putting up another year like his 2011.

    • metalhead65 - Nov 26, 2011 at 6:56 PM

      the reason yonder is a 25 year old rookie is the reds waited to long to move him to another position. as good as he is going to be he was not going beat out Votto at first base. and since the reds mishandled left field he will be getting his shot next year assuming walt does not sign any more washed up ex cards for dusty to play ahead of him. you say shields is a cy young candidate then why hasn’t he won won? who’s to say he won’t blow his arm out playing for the reds? they would be taking a risk to in this deal plus if he is as good as you say he is he will be gone as soon as his contract is up in 2 years. how about if the reds toss in volquez along with alonzo? because you know he is a cy young award winner waiting to happen and a top of the rotation ace to. don’t let those stats fool you he has had alot of bad luck to.

  11. paperlions - Nov 26, 2011 at 8:07 PM

    As a Cardinal fan, this is the exact type of deal I’d like to see the Reds make. If you have a small budget and a limited amount of cheap talent, you should trade your redundant cheap talent to a team that has cheap redundancy in your area(s) of need….not for relatively expensive talent with only a few years of control….I would love to see them blow 12 years of control of young talent for 3 yrs of Shields…he won’t look near as good in the park in Cinci as he did last year in Tampa.

    • paperlions - Nov 26, 2011 at 8:12 PM

      Tampa has all kinds of cheap pitching talent…if you are the Reds…those are the guys you target….not a guy who had a lucky (.258 BABIP) year with basically the same underlying performance he’s had most of his career….He’s a decent enough pitcher…but he’s not a #1.

  12. yobuc1148 - Nov 27, 2011 at 8:07 AM

    Here’s another reason the trade won’t be made: The Rays don’t deal unless they think they can snooker their trade partner. No such thing as a win-win with them. Even though they’re not as clever as they might lead others to think.

  13. firemarshal1 - Nov 27, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    Devil Rays will have another below average hitting line up if they don’t make the trade. The Reds will find another trading partner. They’ll snook themselves out. I guess average is OK in Tampa Bay.

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