To pull off a major trade in Major League Baseball, you need to be creative. The San Diego Padres covet third baseman Eugenio Suarez of the Reds, but he is a young, controllable player. Perhaps the Padres can get creative by taking on Homer Bailey in a deal as well. Let’s explore the idea.
The smoke from the 2019 MLB hot stove is in full gear with rumors running amok across all of baseball.
With that being said, there is plenty of ways to acquire talent. You can sign free agents, you can select players through the Rule 5 draft, or acquire them in a trade.
Another way to acquire someone is by trade while relieving the other team of significant dollars tied into a bad contract.
These kinds of financial albatrosses can motivate teams to take less for the desired asset than normal, due to a need in shedding payroll. Or a team may take directives from ownership to make a move. This buying of a bad asset to incentivize the other team to part with the real prize is more common than you might think.
An example of this recently across MLB would be the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks in mid-2015 having to unload the contract of RHP Bronson Arroyo to the Atlanta Braves for a middling utility player in Phil Gosselin.
It was rumored that Diamondbacks ownership had given, at that point current GM Dave Stewart, the directive to shed payroll if at all possible after the international signings of OF Yasmany Tomas and RHP Yoan Lopez. This led Stewart to unload Bronson Arroyo, who was still coming back from Tommy John surgery the previous season and was at least four to six weeks from making it back to a major league mound. Arroyo was owed $9,500,000 for the 2015 season and had a $11,000,000 team option for 2016 or a $4,500,000 buyout obligation. To make this minimum $14 million debt disappear, the Diamondbacks went to the extent of adding in 2014 first round draft pick Touki Toussaint.
The 16th overall player of the 2014 first-year player draft was tossed in to make a bad contract vanish. This caused strange looks to veer towards Arizona the rest of the season. Flash forward to 2018, and Arroyo is out of baseball and Toussaint is a promising young pitcher for the Braves who contributed to the first division title for Atlanta since 2013. They essentially purchased the rights to Toussaint, the first rounder the previous year, by taking on Arroyo’s contract.
With this as an example, I propose that the Padres examine the situation in Cincinnati.
The Reds have a very attractive piece in third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who is young (27), under team control thru 2025, and for a reasonable sum. That is an incredibly valuable combination of variables. The cost would be a large treasure trove of cost-controlled talent/prospects heading to Cincinnati. The amount of talent needed to be traded would make “HOT TALENT LAVA” fans cringe. And it should, because that’s how you acquire all-star caliber talent in the prime of their careers.
Now one way to possibly lessen the pain of this acquisition would be to seek to rid the Reds of a certain financial albatross they might have hanging around their rotation by the name of Homer Bailey.
Once a promising young, right-handed pitcher who they planned to build around and lead the rotation for the foreseeable future, injuries have beset him and robbed him of much of the talent he displayed earlier on in his career. Before injuries set in, he and the team were able to come to terms on a sizeable extension to keep him at the front of the rotation moving forward.
At the beginning of spring training in 2014, he signed a six-year $105,000,000 contract.
What’s currently left on that deal is a 2019 salary of $23,000,000 and a 2020 buyout of $5,000,000. Not an insurmountable amount, but to a team like the Reds, the savings between ridding themselves of Bailey’s deal and the contract of Suarez could allow them to reallocate those financial savings towards some desperately needed pitching, while at the same time acquiring some talented prospects from the Padres, and opening up a position for star minor league third baseman prospect Nick Senzel.
This might be part of the pitch for A.J. and the rest of the Padres front office.
Somebody hurry, get Reds’ GM Nick Krall on the phone. We have got the hot stove cooking and we don’t want it to burn.