The Darvish and Latos sweepstakes

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in ,

Well, the bidding is over and the Nippon Ham Fighters totally ignored my advice. They waited until the last possible moment to announce they were accepting the Rangers' $51.7 million posting bid for Yu Darvish. Now the fun begins.

You see, Darvish likes to portray himself as a sort of iconoclast. From getting caught engaging in underage smoking and gambling, to outspoken comments, he tries to cultivate an image as someone who bucks the system. Though I'm not sure how marrying and then divorcing an actress and pinup model fits into his rebel persona. That sounds more Beckhamish to me, and he's nobody's rebel.

Darvish has been an outspoken critic of the posting system. He says it's unfair to players, and I have to agree, I'm not a fan of it either. There's been some rumblings that, the higher the winning bid, the less likely Darvish would sign with the MLB team that ponied up the cash. He would view his stance as a condemnation of the system and a refusal to play the powers-that-be's little game. Of course, that's why he hired superagent Arn Tellem, right? Let's face it - Tellem didn't get where he is by tilting at windmills. My guess is that he'll knock some sense into Darvish and we'll see him in Ranger blue next year. I also believe that Darvish's favourite colour is green.

Now I'd like to turn my attention to the newly-minted Reds pitching ace, Mat Latos. It's commonly accepted wisdom that if you have the chance to trade for proven performance in exchange for prospects, you make the trade. Exactly how much proven performance Latos brings is up for debate, but the prospect status of Yonder Alsono, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger is beyond dispute.

The general consensus is that the Reds gave up too much in this trade. But that consensus is also predicated on several factors, none of which is a slam-dunk certainty. For example:

  1. The Reds will lose Joey Votto to free agency, and they just traded away his ready-made replacement.
  2. Alonso will be happy sitting on the bench waiting for Votto to depart, because the Reds have tried (and failed) to find another place for him.
  3. Yasmani Grandal will be a better catcher than Devin Mesoraco, and the Reds just traded him away.
  4. Brad Boxberger will develop into a shutdown major league closer, and the Reds never gave him a chance.
I look at this trade, as many small-to-mid market teams and fans do, in terms of control. In other words, is four years of Mat Latos worth trading away four years of Alonso and six years of Grandal? I don't know, but I'm certainly not going to evaluate it on the basis of "four years of Latos being a head case vs. four all-star seasons from Alonso and six years of Grandal being the next Pudge Rodriguez" like the naysayers have decided will happen. The reason these players are called prospects is because we don't know what will happen with their careers. Alonso might develop into the next Joey Votto, then again, he might not. Grandal might be the better catcher, but maybe Mesoraco is. We don't know what their future career holds, but we have a better idea of what Latos is likely to do, and the future looks pretty damn bright for him.

As a side note, I don't count Edinson Volquez in this trade because, frankly, I'm glad to see the back of him. Likewise, I don't count Boxberger because, if projecting a ballplayer's potential is a fool's errand, then the phrase "closer prospect" is downright farcical. The hand-wringing over his inclusion in the trade smacks of lingering regret over Trevor Hoffman's exposure in the 1993(!) expansion draft.

People have all but written off the Reds chances of retaining Joey Votto once he becomes a free agent, but I'm not so sure. The only team I really fear getting their hands on Votto is his hometown Blue Jays, suddenly resurgent and seemingly keeping their powder dry for a run at Votto in two years. However, I do worry that signing Votto to a big contract significantly reduces the chances of keeping Latos four years hence, unless the Reds can lock him up to a Cleveland Indians/Tampa Bay Rays-style below market contract. However, if at the end of 2015 the Reds have no Votto, no Latos, no real hardware to speak of and only a handful of compensatory draft picks, then what will we think of the trade?

(By the way, yes, I am collecting the 2011 Lineage set)

Comments (4)

    Outstanding article! I like your Latos standpoint. Written with much intelligence and a non-biased point of view. I have discussed this topic with many Reds fans. I am on the fence, I feel we gave up way too much prospect talent, and yes, Vottos backup. Latos is a solid pitcher, but is arguably unproven as well. Time will tell. It would appear we (reds) are signing Sean Marshall for Travis Wood. Another trade that many question the rationality of... Are the Reds making a go at the 2012 championship? It would appear so, I have never seen Cincinnati freely trade off its farm system. This is not our usual habits...I will be in the stands for this one.

    ...In addition...Is tilting at a windmill an Australian idiom? For being lazy? in a few years Jay Bruce may be able to bat cleanup, and in Cincy, there is no shortage of farm team talent. I live in Dayton about a mile from the Dayton Dragons. They have a first baseman Dominic D'anna that is putting up numbers, who knows what the Louisville Bats have in store. I think 2012 season will set the tone for the winter meetings of 2012. In Cincinnati, the feeling is 'get it done in 2012 or get a new game plan'

    I think you're right about Darvish. His favorite color is green as in the green on US currency.

    "Tilting at windmills" comes from Don Quixote - a memorable scene where the title character thought he was fighting dragons, when in fact they were just windmills. It's a saying for someone who does foolish, pointless things.

    Arn Tellem isn't going to go into negociations with the Rangers if he didn't think there was a chance at making a deal. He's not going to waste his time.

    And thanks for the kind words!