The oft-rumored trade between the Reds and Dodgers finally went down Friday afternoon, and the immediate national conversation was about what this six-player deal meant for the team in Los Angeles. Were the Dodgers freeing up space to make a run at Bryce Harper? Was A.J. Pollock now on the radar? Would they make a deal for J.T. Realmuto?
Let’s look at the other team, though. What exactly are the Reds doing here?
This is a franchise that’s lost at least 94 games each of the past four seasons, including 95 in 2018. I’ll admit, my first thought was this: Does the front office honestly think that adding Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood and Matt Kemp — and jettisoning Homer Bailey’s 6.09 ERA — will be the difference between 95 losses in 2018 and a playoff push in 2019?
Remember, the Reds play in a rather loaded division, relatively speaking. The Brewers and Cubs both reached the 95-win mark and made the postseason in 2018, and they’re not going to be worse in 2019. The Cardinals have added Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller to a club that won 88 games last season.
It’s not unreasonable to think the minimum number of wins that gets a team into October contention in the NL Central will be 92. Are those three guys enough to take the Reds from 67 wins to 92 wins? No, probably not (we’ll re-visit this in a moment).
But that’s not the only equation the Reds were trying to solve with this deal.