Part of rebuilding is knowing when you next expect to compete. The Reds have been stockpiling talent this year and a quick look at their top prospects lists shows 9 of the top 15 in High A or lower. Only 2 are in AAA. In other words, their next competitive window is a good 3 years away.
That said, it makes no sense to hold onto a high value contract or a reliever who will be gone by then. It does, however, make sense to add upside at the AA level.
So, in this iteration, Moose finally comes to Anaheim. It seems like he’s been destined to come here forever.
Moose is done. He can’t hit, was never great with the glove, and has always been allergic to taking walks. He comes with an $18 million salary for next season along with a $4 million buyout of an option for the following year. So, he costs $22 million, or $1 million more than Thor. And he’s almost certainly DFA’d the second he gets here.
Graham Ashcraft, however, is a solid talent. A 25 year old pitcher who is 15% better than league average and is cost controlled for five additional years is exactly what the Angels need. He’s a perfect Thor replacement. Better, younger, cheaper.
Tejay Antone is a guy we’ve mocked in trades here in the past. He’s a good bullpen arm who had Tommy John surgery last August. As there’s no need for him this year, he can continue to rehab and be a full year and a half post surgery by Opening Day. Antone will be arbitration eligible after 2023, right when the Tepera and Loup contracts fall off the books.
Spencer Steer is the piece the Reds might not part with. He’s a guy who can play second, short, or third but is best at one of the bases. A three year starter at Oregon, the knock on him when he was drafted was the lack of power. He’s added some through the minors and still has options. Given our third baseman made of glass and overall lack of infield depth, I’m sure he’d be with the big club in 2023 and we’d have him for six full seasons.
While I’d greatly prefer Steer (and did a mock trade for him while he was a Twins farmhand), if the Reds balked at Steer I’d also consider Levi Stoudt to create some more pitching depth. Yes, he profiles as a back end guy but I’m tired of paying millions for over the hill back end guys. I’d rather get a pile of guys like Stoudt, Tucker Davidson, Davis Daniel, Janson Junk, and others and save money. And with young guys there’s always a chance of improvement.
In exchange, the Angels ship out both their first and second round picks from the 2021 draft. This gives the Reds two electric fastballs upon which to dream and some more arms in what is an infield heavy system. They might be starters, they might be bullpen studs, but they could be held in the minors for another couple of years while the Reds figure it out.
Considering Thor and Bradley combined to make $27 million last year, this trade saves roughly $4 million for other needs. It might also allow the Angels to get a band aid at shortstop or second base rather than block 2022 first round pick Neto with a mega contract at shortstop.
All in all, better starting pitching, better bullpen, and $4 million less than Thor and Bradley took home. And either a solid infielder or back end rotation depth. After 2023, this deal actually frees up a lot of money while adding multiple pieces.
Love it? Hate it? Somewhere in between.