Consider this example #14059586 why all trade rumors must come with buckets and buckets of salt. Mat Latos’s name trickled out on the trade market in recent weeks but mostly with “it will take a lot to get him” attached and very little in the way of trade talk. The Padres went as far as to say they “weren’t shopping him” and it would “take a lot.”
One minute he’s on the Reds radar and the very next he’s a member of the Reds; as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported. Latos heads to Cincinnati in exchange for a significant package of players including slugger “first baseman” Yonder Alonso and experienced starter Edinson Volquez. Wow. The official Padres feed has the full deal below the jump.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) December 17, 2011
Mat Latos is actually quite good. Very good, in fact. Not only is he very good, he works cheap. Latos is not arbitration eligible until next off-season and he is only 24 years old, meaning he remains under the Reds control through his age 27 season. He comes off two straight seasons with high strikeout numbers (more than 23% of batters faced over the last two years) and excellent control.
Has he benefited from Petco Park? Of course he has! But his slightly-below average ground ball rate suggests he can survive moving to a noted homer dome like the Great American Ballpark. He is just as good on the road (3.26 FIP) as he is at home in the cozy Petco confines (3.06 FIP in 2011.) Latos misses bats and logs innings, posting more than 7 fWAR over the last two seasons.
The only real concern with Latos is health. The young right-hander spent time on the DL this season with shoulder inflammation and missed time last year with an oblique injury.
Latos features an exaggerated plunge which doesn’t raise any immediate red flags aside from the fact that it is unusual. People fear what they do not know but, then again, Tim Lincecum.
Yonder Alonso was a man without a country with the Reds, forever doomed to sit behind Joey Votto on the depth chart. The Reds did well to sell high on a one-dimensional player with a big league bat but not much else, though he is only one piece of the massive costs the Reds pay their new number one starter.
Edinson Volquez is a very interesting pitcher, though one coming off a terrible year. He’s a good groundball guy with a 4 fWAR season in his not too distant past. Unfortunately, his knowledge of the strikezone also appears lost in the past. Volquez turned into a walk machine and even faced a brief stint in the minor leagues this year as the Reds tried to figure out his control issues.
The Padres took in quite the haul for Mat Latos, as one might expect. In addition to the big bat of Alonso and the potential mid-rotation starter of Volquez, the Padres add a high-end relief arm in Brad Boxberger and hot catching prospect Yasmani Grandal. Grandal is a switch hitter who posted a combined .900 OPS at three different minor league levels as a 23 year-old.
A good haul for a team not going anywhere in 2012, they add to a deep system which takes some sting out of trading their best player for the second consecutive offseason. The question for the Padres remains the same: can any of these players ever reach the level of the player they shipped out? Other than Grandal, I do not think they received an elite player who comes within a sniff of Latos as he approaches his peak. Such is the life of a San Diego Padres fan. They’re like a feeder club to the rest of the league, at this point. Though their “wall of sound” prospect approach seems reminiscent of one Alex Anthopoulos, does it not?
The Reds pay a steep, steep price to compete right now in the N.L. Central. They get the rotation anchor they needed and they finally move Alonso out from behind the Votto block.
The clock is now officially ticking on the Reds. They’re unlikely to trade Brandon Phillips ahead of the 2012 season and it is T minus two years until Joey Votto hits free agency. With a quickly aging Scott Rolen on one corner and Dusty Baker tearing through arms in the dugout, the Reds are certainly in “win now” mode.