The latest Reds trade rumor is Ryan Freel (and probably a prospect) going to Baltimore for catcher Ramon Hernandez (and probably some cash toward his salary). This is basically an exchange of two bad contracts. The Reds don't need Freel, and he's owed $4mil in '09. Heck, they could re-sign C-Pat for less. The Orioles don't need Hernandez, as they have the best prospect in baseball, Matt Wieters, ready to take over at catcher.
Hernandez is owed $8mil for '09 and there is a club option at $8.5 mil for '10, with a $1mil buyout. So he's owed at least $9mil on his contract.
Freel and Hernandez both peaked in '06, struggled with injuries in '07, and started out slowly in '08. The difference is Hernandez had a good second half, hitting .272 with 11 hr's in the last 4 months of the season. Freel never caught stride in '08. Hernandez final '08 line was .257/.308/.406 with 15 hr's and 65 rbi's. Compared to his '06 (.275/.343/.479 w/ 23 hr's and 91 rbi's) not great but, like I said, he did have a solid second half and his slow start was very likely due to injury recovery.
Of course, the final analysis of this deal would have to come after a prospect is named and we know how much money comes back, but this seems like a low-risk deal to me. Hernandez is a solid backstop with a decent bat and some power, and we desparately need a catcher. He may not be among the top 10 catchers, but he's close if he can duplicate his pre-injury '06 season. After subtracting Freel's $4mil, this only costs the Reds an addtional $5mil at the most and seems worth the risk.
Freel is completely replaceable (Norris Hopper?) and won't be missed accept by my wife and the Newport police department.
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