Now that this trade has been announced, and the more I think about it, the more I like it. The Reds had several needs going into the off-season and finding a catcher was a huge priority. Getting Hernandez for essentially $4mil in '09 (John Fay said $3.5mil, but his math is wrong -- see my post from yesterday for an explanation) fits the bill.
Hernandez is better than the free agent catchers available and one of the best veteran catchers on the trade market. For example, I like him way better than Gerald Laird, who can't hit righties and really should be a platoon player. There were some other younger guys (like Miguel Montero) mentioned in this space as possible trades, but I really like the idea of a one-year commitment to a veteran with Hanigan as the back-up. If Hernandez has a big year, the Reds have a '10 option for $8.5mil. I would still like to see the Reds take Skelton in the Rule 5 draft and send Hanigan to the minors, but that seems much less likely now that catcher is no longer a high priority.
Losing Freel will have no impact on this team, and the two prospects are not "borderline top-10" as John Fay reported. They are not even in the Reds' top 15. And the Reds aren't that deep with prospects. The depth they do have, however, is at 3B and middle infield, so losing Turner and Waring won't matter at all.
Losing Dunn and Jr. saved the Reds about $25mil off of last year's payroll. They essentially spent $4mil of the savings on a big need. I like it. Now, if we could get them to spend another $5mil on Juan Rivera and $10mil on the Big Unit, we'd be set. It doesn't sound like the Reds are even in the mix for the Unit, so I would like to see them sign Rivera and then take Igawa (or Lofgren?) in the Rule 5 draft. If you know of a good left-handed starter (Mulder?) out there, post it as a comment and I will do a follow-up.
Mike Mussina, Hall of Famer
3 weeks ago