COMMENTARY| When considering Tyler Cloyd and Jonathan Pettibone are in a Philadelphia Phillies rotation that no longer has the masterful Roy Halladay in it, it's easy to see why former major leaguers toiling in the minor leagues might seem like attractive targets right now for the Phillies. Names like Chien Mien Wang, Jeremy Bonderman or Chris Young offer a glimmer of hope, provided such weary-armed hurlers have a little something left in the tank, but shouldn't Phillies fans expect more for their aging team's gasp at another playoff run?
Obviously, Cincinnati Reds organizational depth fodder like Armando Galarraga isn't an upgrade over a Jair Jurrjens or a Tim Stauffer, but wouldn't a hard-nosed, hard-hitting up-and-comer like Mike Leake seem like an upgrade over a John Lannan or even a Kyle Kendrick should the latter come crashing back to earth? Leake is no Halladay disguised in Reds clothing, but he is accustomed to pitching in a homer-happy park and he does have some intriguing upside, in addition to experience that includes 85 career starts.
Undoubtedly, the Reds would love to keep Leake to return to the rotation in 2014 when longtime Reds starter Bronson Arroyo will most likely be pitching elsewhere, but with the emergence of Tony Cingrani, the likelihood that the Aroldis Chapman starter debate resumes in 2014 and the emergence of younger arms rising through the Reds farm system, Leake is the best, most expendable trade bait the Reds might be willing to offer.
Arroyo would be the ideal trade piece if the deferred money of his contract ending this year weren't effectively a no-trade clause that would force the Reds to pay about $10 million upfront in addition to his 2013 salary should the Reds trade him. So unless the Phillies are willing to dive even deeper into the pockets of their already deep big market britches to acquire Arroyo, Leake might be the best starter the Phillies can grab right now, if the Reds are willing to trade him
As far as the Reds are concerned, they recently acquired organizational depth at third base and the corner outfield positions by adding Joe Mather to their minor league reserve after a deal to acquire Mark Teahen from the Arizona Diamondbacks fell through.
But given the Reds biggest need remains a right-handed hitting power hitter who can start in left field in the big leagues, organizational depth won't be enough.
Nor will the current crop of platoon players the Reds so far have seemed content with running out into left field since Ryan Ludwick was lost to the team for most of the season on opening day. Rookie Donald Lutz has upside as enormous as the player himself and Derrick Robinson has availed himself well when able, but the Reds need a right-handed power hitter. Xavier Paul is a solid left-handed bat off the bench and Chris Heisey is a versatile fourth outfielder, but the Reds really need a consistent bat with thump and can get just that in the personage of Delmon Young, should the Phillies be willing to part with him.
Young's brother Dmitri has long been a favorite of Reds Country since his playing days with the Reds. Dmitri is even appearing at the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum this weekend as part of a signature series event at Great American Ball Park.
Why not add brother Delmon to the Reds family now?
Of course, the Phillies could always try to wait it out and let other teams put their starting pitchers on the trade table as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches at the end of July or they could try to add an upgrade with upside now in Leake, who is definitely not the second-coming of Doc Halladay but certainly a proven big league starter with a couple more years of salary arbitration eligibility remaining.
As for the Reds, Leake appears to be the odd man out of the Reds rotation this year. Plus, trading Leake will be a $3 million salary dump. Adding Young to the middle of the order might just be the same kind of catalyst that the Reds found last year in Ludwick...and at a fraction of the cost ($750,000).
Robb Hoff has worked as a freelance researcher for ESPN's production and news departments for the past five years. You can read his articles about the 2012 Reds season here.
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