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Padres net a huge haul from Reds in return for Mat Latos

Dec 17, 2011, 2:18 PM EDT

Mat Latos Getty Images

The Padres weren’t looking to trade their 24-year-old ace, but there’s simply no way that they could turn this down.

Cincinnati sent 1B/OF Yonder Alonso, C Yasmani Grandal, RHP Edinson Volquez and RHP Brad Boxberger to San Diego for RHP Mat Latos in a trade announced Saturday.

In return, the Reds get one of the game’s most promising young pitchers to head a rotation also set to include Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey and either Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman or Travis Wood. Latos is 27-29 with a 3.37 ERA in since debuting with the Padres in 2009. He’ll make close to the minimum next year and he’s four years away from free agency, making him a very valuable property.

Still, this looks like a pretty classic overpay from a frustrated GM in Walt Jocketty. The Reds’ plans had been stifled all winter to date. Now Jocketty has resorted to using the Reds’ two-best trade chips, their still tantalizing reclamation project and one of the game’s best relief prospects, all in the same deal.

Alonso, the seventh overall selection in the 2008 draft, excelled in his time in the majors last season, batting .330/.398/.545 in 88 at-bats. His minor league numbers were more good than great, so he’s probably not a future All-Star. However, he projects as a nice regular at first base and the Padres will have him under control for six years. What that means for fellow top prospect Anthony Rizzo still has to be figured out. Alonso could be stashed in left field at some point or maybe he gets traded again. For now, he’ll probably start at first, with Rizzo returning to Triple-A.

Grandal, the 12th overall pick in the 2010 draft, is one of the game’s top five catching prospects, but he was blocked by an even better one in Cincinnati in Devin Mesoraco. He hit .296/.410/.510 in 206 at-bats in high-A and .301/.360/.474 in 156 at-bats in Double-A last season. He also projects as an above average defender. He’s going to need a year in Triple-A, but his arrival makes Nick Hundley expendable in San Diego.

Volquez, 28, went 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA for the Reds in 2008 before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2009 and getting hit with a 50-game PED suspension during his rehab. Things seemed fine after he returned in 2010, but he struggled mightily last season, going 5-7 with a 5.71 ERA and 65 walks in 108 2/3 innings. Volquez still has his old velocity, so the upside is there if he can start throwing more strikes. He’ll make about $1.8 million next year and he’s under control through 2013, so he still qualifies as a pretty nice pickup.

Boxberger is the lesser name in the deal, but he was looking like a potential closer of the future for the Reds. The 2009 supplemental first-round pick had a 2.03 ERA and a 93/28 K/BB ratio in 62 inings between Double- and Triple-A last season. Boxberger throws 92-95 mph and has a surprisingly good changeup to go along with his slider. He could win a spot in the Padres bullpen next spring and become one of the team’s top relievers quickly.

So, the Reds got their impact player, and that counts for something in an NL Central that’s looking pretty winnable with Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder departing. Latos is no Petco creation — he has a lifetime ERA of 3.57 on the road — and he still has the potential to take his game up a notch. It’s just that the cost was huge, and while the Reds didn’t give up anyone they looked at as a key player for 2011, they certainly hindered their ability to make future trades by giving up four quality properties here. Score one for the Padres. When teams say they’re not going to trade a player unless their bowled over, this is precisely the kind of deal they have in the back of their minds.

  1. Jeremiah Graves - Dec 17, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    Rizzo/Hundley to the Cubs?!

    I’m not sure why, but something about that seems like a very real possibility.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Dec 17, 2011 at 2:34 PM

      That’s an interesting idea. I’m not sure how the Cubs get Rizzo without giving up Jackson, but if they could pull it off while using Cashner and a couple of their other prospects, that’d be a great get for them.

      • hittfamily - Dec 17, 2011 at 4:37 PM

        Ha ha. Drive the stake in Cincy a little more and finish them off right? Moments after FLEECING them of their only trade chips, including 2 top 50’s for a guy who will get real expensive real fast, the Pad’s make a deal to strengthen their competetion.

      • hittfamily - Dec 18, 2011 at 2:37 AM

        Anybody here remember 2 weeks ago when this site was thinking the idea of Shield for Alonso straight up, or Shields and Farnesworth for Alonso and Grandal.

        LMAO!!! I said WAY overpay, and yet Reds fans are still thinking they got a good deal.

        http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/11/25/fake-trade-james-shields-to-cincinnati-for-yonder-alonso/

        When Matthew Pouliott says huge haul, he means it.

        Quoting Matthew:

        “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.”

  2. brucewaynewins - Dec 17, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    I somehow feel like Jocketty fleeced his own team. This feels like the Reds frank robinson for milt pappas again.

    On the plus side I guess this means the Reds are serious about keeping Votto and Phillips.

    Either way I hate this trade.

    • paperlions - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:31 PM

      I don’t know how this affects Phillips or Votto. I think it means they are trying to win in 2012. Votto is still going to FA and still going to the highest bidder…can the Reds afford to put $25M/year on just one player? If so, they just compromised their ability to do that by trading so much of their available cheap talent (that at least could have been traded for cheap talent in positions of need).

      Latos will be cheap in 2012, but his arbitration salaries could be $8M, $11M, and $14M if he keeps pitching well.

      • brucewaynewins - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:44 PM

        With Yonder gone the excuse of trading Votto and keeping Yonder is absolute. Everytime someone started a rumor about trading Votto, Jocketty would get pissed. There is a video of Jocketty on the Reds website from this month talking about how they intend to sign Votto long term, already tried, and will try again.

        Reason I mentioned Phillips is everyone felt 1 would go and 1 would stay. I feel one of the reasons the Reds are spending much this offseason despite and increase in attendance is to keep both players. With Billy Hamilton in the minors at second base it makes Votto look like more and more of a keeper unless someone makes a deal the Reds can’t even come close to.

        Votto himself said he wants to stay with the Reds and can’t see himself playing anywhere else.

        @matthew here is an audio link with Jocketty talking about the trade http://cincinnati.com/blogs/reds/files/2011/12/121711_cin_jockety_cc.mp3

      • paperlions - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:47 PM

        Is wanting to stay with the Reds the reason Votto has refused to even talk about a contract extension?

      • hittfamily - Dec 17, 2011 at 4:20 PM

        I am with you paperlions. This does not affect Votto in the least bit. They weren’t going to keep Alonso in AAA until he was 28 just in case Votto went unsigned. This seems like a make or break run at the Series this year and next. They were a few pieces away from being the favorites for the Central, and this probably gets them there. However, I don’t know how they can afford to pay Votto 25million, Phillips, 15 million, and Latos 10 million in 2 years.

        This is going for broke.

  3. micker716 - Dec 17, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    The more I look at this deal the more I’m loving it for the Pad’s. Latos stuff is electric, but there have always been questions about maturity and attitude. The Padres are still a long ways off from being a contender, but Byrnes looks like he might be building a team the right way as opposed to filling holes with cheap rentals – the way they’ve always done it before.

  4. mikedi33 - Dec 17, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    I think the Reds gave up more than the Phils did in trading for proven cy youngs in Lee and Doc . Of course Latos still is real cheap but seems like a huge overpay.

    • drunkenhooliganism - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:08 PM

      the salary and team control make Latos far more valuable than Halladay and Lee in a trade.

      • ame123 - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:51 PM

        Except the Phils got 1.5 years of lee for peanuts and got a below market extension for Halladay.

      • evanwins - Dec 17, 2011 at 4:27 PM

        What good is salary/team control on a player who isn’t very good, or just okay? The Phils traded Carlos Carrasco type players for their big hauls. Carrasco would have been like Latos, under team control and not very expensive. He also wouldn’t be a perennial Cy Young contender and one of the best pitchers in baseball.

        For the Phillies, the Lee and Halladay trades were their targets, and for the Phils they were EXTREMELY valuable.

        For the Reds, they think this Latos deal will be valuable for them, it remains to be seen.

        They’re 2 teams in different places who traded for different reasons. Not all that comparable.

        Lastly, I tend to look at all pitchers who come out of “pitcher-friendly” home parks with a little caution. A fly ball that doesn’t even reach the track in Petco wil be 8 rows deep in Great American. So we’ll see… Also with Heath Bell.

      • hittfamily - Dec 17, 2011 at 4:42 PM

        He was just as good on the roads. Home/Away splits are helpful to glance at.

      • drunkenhooliganism - Dec 17, 2011 at 11:17 PM

        Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball. But because of his contract he’s worthless in a trade (anybody could have signed him to that contract. They’re definitely not going to assume the contract while giving up a player now). The contract is a big factor in trade value.

  5. cintiphil - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    Matthew:

    Please define “huge haul”. You can not mean that Volquez is going to amount to a major league pitcher without devine intervention? And, what about all that potential? Who said they will be successful? I think Grandal is still going to play in the minors for the next season or two. As far as potential pitchers, who can know? The Reds made a guess at Chapman, and in no way do any of these guys have the same “potential” as Chapman. Now it appears that he may have some shoulder problems or may be relagated to the pen for some time. That is how much “potential” is worth. We know what Latos can do. I guess it is still fun to speculate.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:19 PM

      We know what Latos can do in the same way we knew what Volquez could do after 2008. That’s the trap we tend to fall into when looking at deals: all prospects are suspect, yet “established players” are treated as though they’re going to do the same thing year after year. They don’t.

      FWIW, while I’m a Latos believer and I fully expect him to be the better pitcher next year, I’d say there’s at least a 30 percent chance Volquez finishes with the superior ERA, thanks in large part to to the ballparks.

      • micker716 - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:34 PM

        Exactly. 2011 was supposed to be Latos year coming off a strong 2009 (although he faded badly at the end). It never really happened. I’m a Latos fan, but there are questions about his make-up. I tend to believe 2010 was just an aberration, partly due to overly high expectations on a young, developing pitcher and maybe overuse in ’09. Still, leaving Bud Black, Darren Balsley and Petco for the meat-grinder that is Dusty Baker and G.A.B. might not yield the positive results Red’s fans are expecting.

      • micker716 - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:34 PM

        Exactly. 2010 was supposed to be Latos year coming off a strong 2009 (although he faded badly at the end). It never really happened. I’m a Latos fan, but there are questions about his make-up. I tend to believe 2010 was just an aberration, partly due to overly high expectations on a young, developing pitcher and maybe overuse in ’09. Still, leaving Bud Black, Darren Balsley and Petco for the meat-grinder that is Dusty Baker and G.A.B. might not yield the positive results Red’s fans are expecting.

      • spudchukar - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:47 PM

        Latos will suffer pitching in the Great American Phonebooth, but he seems to have the make-up to hang around for a while. But the Reds still have holes. The Rolen/Francisco 3B duo could easily flop. Cozart must show he is the real deal. Stubbs ended up benched at the end of ’11, and left field is still up for grabs.

        The Reds have starting pitching depth, and should be healthier than last year, but Arroyo, Bailey, Leake, Woods and Chapman all have issues, and that is worrysome. But they have their ace, and that should alleviate some pressure. Is Heisey the answer in left?

      • paperlions - Dec 17, 2011 at 8:55 PM

        Number of career starts in which Latos has thrown at least 110 pitches: 4

        That number should double by the end of April.

  6. pisano - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    The bottom line is the Padres will trade anyone rather than pay them a big contract.

    • paperlions - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:40 PM

      This is so obviously true, not sure how anyone could disagree. The ownership has made it clear that their goal is to make as much money as possible. Winning doesn’t appear to be anywhere on the priority list. The Padre owners have pocketed more money than any other team, even the Yankees.

    • rohlo - Dec 17, 2011 at 7:37 PM

      when you are rebuilding trading him for quality 2 top 50 prospects is good! latos struggled badly in a pitcher park end of 2010 and half of 2011…

  7. metalhead65 - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    wow! well at least it did not involve any ex-cards and they get rid of volquez who will never amount to anything in the majors let alone athe staff ace they made him out to be when they gave up a mvp to get him. I hate giving up boxberger at a time when they need a closer and he showed flashes of being that guy in the minors and in the fall league. so he basicly gave up the farm for a huy they can control for 4 years. hopefully he will be as good as cuteo or they really got hosed,

  8. kinggeorge96 - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    He’s only pitched 2 1/3 innings since 2009? How’d he get all those wins then??

  9. spudchukar - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    If all pans out for San Diego, then they may have the advantage in this deal. But the Reds did not hurt their team with this move. Whether Alonso can handle 1B is questionable, and he is blocked by Votto anyway.

    Can Volquez regain his 2008 form? Hard to say. He certainly couldn’t put it together last year. So that is a gamble. The Reds must believe he cannot, or else they certainly wouldn’t have made this deal. Grandal was blocked by Mesoraco, and they still have Hannigan who is no slouch. So he was expendable.

    Boxberger must also not be as highly regarded as advertised. He was a first-round pick, and after he struggled his inaugural year, he bounced back nicely in 2011. If he could replace Bell then the Reds are going to have some explainin’ to do, especially if Cordero goes elsewhere. But if he falters, which the Reds must believe, then all they did was eradicate numerous problems for a future Cy Young candidate.

    The Padres already have Street as their closer, which is a move that is hard to comprehend. Rizzo, was a fizzle last year in his call-up opportunity. Still a small sample size, but 142 ABs isn’t just a cup of coffee, and he was awful with a .141 average, and 1 HR. The notion that Alonso can handle an outfield position is fantasy. So I figure the Pads aren’t done dealing. Hudson will probably go, along with one of their setup guys and either Alonso or Rizzo.

  10. droopyyydog1 - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    You win in the major leagues not the minors. If they aren’t helping you win in Cincy then find a way for them to help you. Latos provides a #1 starter to go in front of Cueto, Bailey, Leake and Wood so right there its a better situation than Volquez. As for the position players you have Votto at 1st and Mesoraco so where are these guys going to play ? They were going to get traded away anyway and as anyone can attest, minor league pitching isn’t the majors so no one knows if these guys will even make it in the majors.

    The only thing that pisses me off is we now have nothing to show for Josh Hamilton. Don’t get me wrong Jay Bruce has a lot of upside and looks like he may finally be growing into a major league hitter but I would rather have Hamilton.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:44 PM

      You could say you have Latos to show for Hamilton

    • metalhead65 - Dec 17, 2011 at 11:02 PM

      we will never know if the reds minor league talent will ever help them win in cincy since dusty is so dead set against playing them. granted cozart did not play that long before he got hurt but he showed enough before the injury he should be the answer at at short. did not stop dusty from not playing him the next game after his multi hit debut in favor of a washed up ex-card in renteria. that is why I keep bashing them for signing these “veterans”. dusty will play them over the younger talent every time. you want a better example I will give you Heisey in left. after watching gomes suck for a year and a half they finally get rid of him and go with the mighty fred lewis instead of seeing what Heisey can do. he called it platooning but it was lewis 4 out if every 5 games. who else does not play a guy who hits 3 homers in agame the next day?now comes the part where you give me you invented stats that says Heisey can’t hit when facing a lefty when it is over 70 degrees on a cloudy day. guess what? I actually watch the games and think the guy can play if given a oppertunity to play everyday something dusty seems determined not to. there was no excuse not to play him everday for a month after getting rid of gomes and the reds 10 games out. that way you find out if the guy can play or not. they certainly where not winning with lewis and gomes so what harm could have come from that? I was hoping he would be dealt to a team that would actually play him. plus why is it ok to play the strikeout machine that is stubbs everyday but not a guy who put up similar numbers in less at bats?

      • droopyyydog1 - Dec 18, 2011 at 4:36 PM

        I agree whole heartedly, Dusty is the worst manager you can have for a young team. I love Heissey and would like to see him get some at bats at the top of the order. As for Stubbs the Reds need to take the same approach the Sox did with Elsbury and bat him lower in the line up until he gets comfortable.

        This is the make or break year for the Reds. With Puljols gone the division is winnable which is why I think Jocketty went all in with this trade.

  11. brewcitybummer - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Latos going from the best pitcher’s park in baseball to at least one of the top 5 hitter’s parks in baseball. Reds fans have to be at least a little concerned about this don’t they? My opinion about park effects is that they go beyond what you can measure, with places like Petco allowing pitchers to take more risks and use more of the strike zone

    • sfs1 - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:51 PM

      Latos strikes enough guys out and gets enough ground balls while not giving away tons of walks, which mitigates the worry a bit. His home/road splits don’t show any marked difference between when he pitches at Petco vs. elsewhere.

    • brucewaynewins - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:56 PM

      Stadium ERA W L SV SVO GP GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
      GABP 2.57 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 7.0 4 2 2 0 1 5 .167

  12. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    I’s say the trade is big on potential for the Pods, but none of these guys are sure things. On this very blog, someone recently quipped that Jocketty had better trade Alonso before other teams figure out that he has no position. Volquez was so bad he was shipped to the minors for a big chunk of the season, then a catcher with half a season of AA, and a relief prospect. That to land a legit Ace with several years of team control. I suppose we can judge it more accurately in a couple of years, but pitching is both expensive and in short supply.

    Now I wonder what Beane is thinking he should get for Gio

  13. salbutara - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    The Reds made the correct move. This is why they have accumulated all these assets over the past 3 years. Time to go all in w/ a 2 year window (Votto) and a weakened NL Central Division. Regardless of how this pans out, this was the right call. Good job to Walt and the Reds!!!

    • vanmorrissey - Dec 17, 2011 at 7:01 PM

      Yep. What good are all the prospects if you don’t have room for them, you deal them to get stronger which is what the Reds have done. All trades have risk involved but that’s the way it goes.

  14. nlucas550 - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Cincinnati makes a creative trade; Cubs deny Fielder rumors, and the ugly stepchildren of the National League Central division.

    http://dailygrindsports.wordpress.com/

    • spudchukar - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:49 PM

      That would be World Champion National League Central Division.

  15. johnnyb1976 - Dec 17, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    I’m ok with the deal. Yonder was always ticketed for another team, Volquez has been anything but good the last couple of seasons, Grandal could be the best chip in this whole deal. On paper it looks like the Pads got the better end but if Latos wins 17-20 games with the reds and they win a division and possibly more I don’t think anyone in reds country will miss Yonder’s bat

  16. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 17, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    re: Latos and his maturity issues…he should fit right in with Cincy and the NL Central. That has to be the chippiest division in baseball

  17. icanspeel - Dec 17, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    Latos should help the Reds since most of his losses were because the Padres couldn’t score. It’s basically a move saying the Reds are playing for today and the Padres are playing for the future (when aren’t they?)

  18. lostsok - Dec 17, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    Great move by the Pads, which as a Dodger fan I hate. Bad news for Yonder, though. That’ll cost him 10-15 HRs a year, easy.

  19. crisisjunky - Dec 18, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    Latos will likely get more wins with more offense, but all players in this deal are assigned to player’s purgatory except Volquez who’s situation is probably to far gone to matter. Maybe pitching in The Pet Palace will help Volquez feel less discomfitted, but Boxberger is likely the big winner here, perhaps eventually in Adam’s or even Bell’s role by next year.

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