Two rather simple deals could solve Cincinnati’s two biggest problems heading into 2014. One would rid the Reds of their by-now disgruntled second baseman and his burdensome contract, as well as help replenish the farm system. The other would fill the need for a proven leadoff hitter and center fielder.
First, the club should trade Brandon Phillips to Kansas City, who has already discussed interest in the All-Star second baseman.
“Royals manager Ned Yost was interviewed by Jim Bowden on his SiriusXM radio show and confirmed that the team had discussed Phillips,” wrote Bill Ivie Jr. on bleacherreport.com.
In exchange for Phillips, the Royals would have to send some top prospects. A pitcher would be nice, but Cincinnati would certainly benefit from a couple of position players such as shortstop Raul Mondesi and an outfielder like Jorge Bonifacio or Bubba Starling.
Shipping Phillips would enable the Reds to move Billy Hamilton back to the infield, where he would need to spend spring training adjusting to second. Having been groomed as a shortstop until last year, Hamilton should have few problems handling second.
Another trade would fill the void in center field and at the top of the batting order. Cincinnati could strike a deal for David Dejesus of Tampa, who has a glut of outfielders.
The seven year veteran would give the Reds close to the kind of production they got from Shin-soo Choo last season. In a career spent mostly as a leadoff hitter, Dejesus has a .288 batting average and .362 on base percentage from the top of the order.
The Rays, who lost James Loney to free agency, have a void at first base. They could fill it with the Reds best AAA prospect, Donald Lutz. Originally a first baseman, the club moved the big man to the outfield, only because he was blocked by Joey Votto. Lutz would be an upgrade over Loney in terms of power, having slugged 22 homers with 71 runs batted in just one year ago.
The deal would also free up some room on the Reds’ payroll, since the $5 million owed to Dejesus is less than half of what Phillips will get. That additional salary room could enable Cincinnati to upgrade at left or third base, perhaps for a more potent bat in the middle of the lineup.