Reds Send Kearns, Lopez To Nats In Blockbuster

I was fairly baffled by this trade.  How in the world does swapping out Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez for Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, Royce Clayton, and Brendan Harris make the Reds a better team this year?  (Ryan Wagner and Daryl Thompson were also swapped in the deal).  Let’s analyze.

Lopez is a below average defensive shortstop.  He’s probably amongst the five worst defensive shortstops in the game, as indicated by The Fielding Bible.  The Reds are ranked just 12th in the league in defensive efficiency this year.  Still, Royce Clayton is no defensive whiz at this point – he’s probably only a shade better than Lopez.  So unless Krivsky has some fielding metrics that say otherwise, the gains on defense are minimal.  And if both players keep hitting like they have been this year, the Reds lose a full win on offense.

As for the bullpen additions, I’m less impressed after I look more closely.  Majewski is a 26 year-old reliever who does not miss bats (career K rate of 5.3 per nine).  He’s also generous with the free passes.  While he may have squeezed into the list of the ten best setup men last year, he’s not the most reliable option.  23 year-old southpaw Bray is more potential than results thus far, and he hasn’t shown much ability to shut down left-handed hitters. He’s got good stuff, but he’s still just a reliever. 

Brendan Harris is a good little player; maybe he’ll be starting at second base for the Reds next year if Brandon Phillips moves over to shortstop.  Righty starter Daryl Thompson is just 20, and adds needed depth to the Reds’ farm system.  Still, neither has been making anyone’s top prospect list.

I tried to defend Wayne Krivsky a bit at first, but this trade just looks bad.  The more I dig in, the less I like the players he acquired.  And if the Reds – 1.5 games out of the wild card – don’t make the playoffs by a couple of wins, this trade is the reason.

For the Nats, Kearns would not be a bad option at all in center field.  He’s got good range and a good arm.  His power potential remains huge, and though RFK will dampen his stats.  Great American Ballpark inflates right-handed home runs by about 15% while RFK deflates them by over 20%.  This could cost him 5-6 homers annually.

Lopez is seeing his power numbers slip this season as he continues to pound the ball into the ground more than half the time he makes contact.  The steals don’t add much value.  Strip it down and mostly you’re left with one asset: the ability to draw a walk in 10-12% of his plate appearances.  That’s a good thing, but it doesn’t outweigh the negatives.  The idea of unloading Lopez made sense, but the execution was poor.

Go over to the Hardball Times to see Aaron Gleeman’s excellent take on the deal.

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