The Cincinnati Reds sent four players to San Diego today in exchange for pitcher Mat Latos. Yonder Alonso and Edinson Volquez were included in the deal along with two minor leaguers. The addition of Latos gives the Reds a nice one, two punch in the starting rotation. The 24 year-old Latos joins 26 year-old Johnny Cueto at the top of the Cincinnati rotation.
Cueto had a breakout season for the Reds in 2011, going 9-5 with a 2.31 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. But Cueto was limited to only 24 starts due to injury. Latos went 9-14 for San Diego despite some impressive SABRmetric numbers. In 31 starts for the Padres Latos posted a 3.16 FIP, a 3.2 WAR, and a 1.18 WHIP. Mike Leake, Bronson Arroyo, and Homer Bailey will round out the Cincy rotation.
Latos is a big addition to any staff. But the Reds gave up quite a bit to get the big right-hander. Did Cincinnati overpay? Yonder Alonso may be the key to the deal. If he can live up to his can’t-miss prospect status Alonso will make Padres G.M. Josh Byrnes look like a genius. But right now it looks like the Padres have added another DH type who will compete with Kyle Blanks for playing time in LF. Jesus Guzman played well enough at 1B in his rookie season to hang onto the job and Anthony Rizzo is tabbed as the 1B of the future. So there’s a bit of a logjam there.
Volquez figures to fit into the 4 or 5 spot in the San Diego rotation. He has been a bit of a disappointment since a promising rookie campaign in 2008. San Diego also received a pair of minor leaguers that could be close to major league ready. Brad Boxberger has put up Nintendo-like strikeout numbers in the minors and could be in San Diego sooner rather than later. Yasmani Grandal is a catcher and like Alonso, is from Cuba. Grandal was chosen 12th overall by Cincinnati in the 2010 draft.
Bottom line: I think Latos is one of the best young pitchers in the league. The Reds made a nice addition to their staff and Latos could be an ace for years to come. The Padres did get a pretty good haul in return. The glut of 1B suggests that Alonso or someone else could still be dealt. Volquez is a serviceable starter and the prospects look pretty good, especially Boxberger.