On Monday, Jon Morosi reported that the Cincinnati Reds are holding up the trade deadline action, refusing to deal any of their tradable assets until after the All Star break:
Why no major pitching trades yet? The Reds, who control some of biggest chips, prefer not to make moves until after All-Star Game.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 6, 2015
That's frustrating for those of us who want to see a lot of action at the deadline, as clubs wait to see where the Reds' dominoes fall before moving on to their backup options (which also include another Reds starter, Mike Leake). The Reds shouldn't be concerned about that, of course. They should be much more concerned about their players and about maximizing their return. And this delay threatens that return. It's a ridiculous bit of theater, and one that leaves them potentially vulnerable if something happens to one of their all-stars in the interim.
From a public relations standpoint, it's not hard to see where the Reds are coming from, of course. They have two players in the game already in Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman, and Johnny Cueto is a candidate for the last All Star spot the fans will be voting on through Friday. Yesterday, with an 11 strikeout shutout, Cueto asserted himself as the best choice for the spot. Trading Chapman, Cueto, or both would presumably cost the Reds a shot at marketing these great players all weekend, and selling a bunch of jerseys.
That said, given the nature of pitchers and potential injuries, the Reds are running a risk here. Cueto, for instance, has a recent history of shoulder problems that kept him out for much of 2013. Chapman has been relatively healthy over the last few years (except for the freak line drive that required facial reconstructive surgery last year), but pitchers are generally pretty fragile.
For an illustration, the Reds only need to look to division rivals Milwaukee, who just saw one of their best trade assets, Matt Garza, hit the DL with shoulder tendonitis. At this point, Garza would have to be off the DL the day he was eligible and make two quick quality starts to demonstrate his effectiveness in order for the Brewers to get anything of value for him. And even then, maybe not. It's more likely that the Brewers will just hold him and move him either this offseason or in a year at the next trade deadline.
Now, while Garza is desirable, he's not completely analogous to Johnny Cueto. Cueto is far better, for instance, and figures to bring back a much bigger return. He also is a free agent after the season that the Reds have no chance to sign. While they'd certainly receive draft pick compensation after he signed elsewhere, the value of that pick should be nowhere near the value of the prospects they pick up. If the Reds failed to trade Cueto because he got hurt in his next couple starts, that would be a major disaster for these reloading Reds and to run that risk for a short term P.R. bump and a few extra jersey sales feels almost negligent.
Gather ye Pete Rosebuds while ye may, Reds. For tomorrow is promised to no pitcher.