LATOS TO REDS TALK

The already-busy hot stove season got a big jolt on Saturday when a trade was made between San Diego and Cincinnati where both sides took some chances. The Padres shipped 24-year old RHP Mat Latos to the Reds for a four-player package of RHP Edinson Volquez and three minor leaguers. The three farmhands are the focus of intrigue in this deal.

Latos has been solid, if not durable, in his brief major league career. This is a potential number one starter, no doubt, after two-plus years in the bigs. Volquez has been mercurial over his seven full and partial seasons in The Show. His breakout year was 2008 when the Dominican went 17-6 with workhorse numbers that indicated a bright future.

Since that stellar year, Volquez has gone 13-12 over 41 starts. The star power quickly faded, due to injury (Tommy John surgery) and a brutal walk rate (5.4/9IP in 2011). Still, there is enough in the toolbox to think that Volquez can be a frontline starting pitcher, especially in a move to Petco Park (and away from Great American Ballpark). But this deal wasn’t a one-for-one swap of starting pitchers.

The Reds needed front-of-the-rotation pitching and they had an excess at certain positions. They dealt from strength to land Latos, who may or may not be the answer to their search for an ace. They gave up a 1B blocked by Joey Votto, a C blocked by two solid prospects, and bullpen arm Brad Boxberger.

This will be a trade to follow for years to come.

San Diego went from upstart division runner-up in 2010 to rebuild mode in a few easy steps. Gone are 1B Adrian Gonzalez, Opening Day 2010 starter and innings workhorse Jon Garland and closer Heath Bell, among others. What they have now is youth, and lots of it. Some of the youth acquired in this trade (1B Yonder Alonso, C Yasmani Grandal) collides with youth and talent already in place (1B Anthony Rizzo who came over in the trade for Gonzalez and incumbent C options Nick Hundley and John Baker).

So let’s see how it goes.

There are so many variables in this trade, with so many of the priciples involved still so early in their careers, that the deal has generated a ton of reaction. For the record, I see the Reds getting the better of it short-term, and the Padres holding the cards to make it a landslide for them long-term.

What they do with those cards remains to be seen.

Padres GM Josh Byrnes is a bright mind. I believe he has a vision for what he wants to build in his spacious ballpark. I absolutely can’t believe at this point that every elite pitcher on the market doesn’t want to sign with San Diego, but that’s another story. Nevertheless, I’m thinking Byrnes has a plan to take advantage of the wide-open spaces his park features and pitching will be at the top of the list. Just a guess.

Here are some links to the incredible buzz this trade has generated:

FanGraphs – Padres perspective
FanGraphs – Reds Get Ace
BleacherReport.com
Cincinnati.com – Reds Get Latos At Steep Cost
Friarhood.com Reaction
MLBTradeRumors.com roundup of reaction

HOTSTOVEHEAT on TWITTER