CINCINNATI — Reds general manager Nick Krall spent more of the offseason talking to Dodgers president Andrew Friedman than to his own wife, he said Friday. He hopes that time paid off.
The two clubs, one coming off back-to-back National League pennants and the other four straight 90-loss seasons, agreed Friday afternooon to a blockbuster trade.
The Reds traded struggling right-hander Homer Bailey and highly-regarded prospects Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray to LA, in exchange for three former All-Stars: left-hander Alex Wood and outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, along with utility man Kyle Farmer and cash. For the Reds, it could be a chance to move beyond the four-season slog of rebuilding and into a better future.
“It’s a very complex deal that took a lot of work,” said Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams. “Nick (Krall) deserves particular mention for his work on behalf of the Reds on this one. He was dealing with the Dodgers as our point man and did an outstanding job wrestling that very complex transaction to the ground.”
First and foremost, this trade helped the Reds resolve their elephant in the room which was what to do with Bailey and the $23 million owed him this season.
After signing a six-year, $105 million contract in 2014, Bailey made only eight starts over the next two seasons and went 1-14 with a 6.09 ERA last year. He owns two career no-hitters and was the Reds’ first-round draft choice in 2004, but the writing was on the wall after he was removed from the rotation last season and didn’t pitch after September 5.
The acquisition of Tanner Roark from the Washington Nationals and now Wood gives the Reds and first-year pitching coach Derek Johnson two legitimate starters to anchor the rotation now that Bailey and Matt Harvey are gone.
Wood was an NL All-Star in 2017 and finished ninth in Cy Young Award voting after going 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA in 27 appearances. Last season, he went 9-7 with a 3.68 ERA in 27 starts and six relief appearances.
“We weren’t going to do a deal without getting a starting pitcher back,” said Williams. “And the bonus is that he’s left-handed.”
Puig and Kemp, who both are free agents after this season, will be reunited with Reds pitching coach Turner Ward who spent the past three seasons in LA.
“I’ve been around all those guys for the past three years,” Ward said. “Puig’s going to bring some excitement to the club that the Cincinnati fans really are going to appreciate. I just got off the phone with him. He’s so pumped, fired up about coming.”
Puig, 28, hit .267 last season with 23 homers and 63 RBIs. He could be Billy Hamilton’s replacement in center field but also could end up in a corner spot since the Reds have potential centerfielders in Scott Schebler, Phillip Ervin and top prospect Nick Senzel.
“We’ll get to spring training and let the coaches sort that out,” Williams said. “We feel good about having multiple guys who have the ability to play in center field.”
Along with Puig, Kemp brings an impact bat to the Reds and an upgrade defensively. He’s a three-time All-Star including last season and a two-time Gold Glove Award winner who will fit into a corner outfield spot. Kemp hit .290 this season with 25 doubles, 21 homers and 85 RBI.
“You’re looking at a team that offensively can do a lot of damage,” Ward said of the Reds. “It just looks like a lineup that can be a force.”
Farmer, 28, made 59 appearances for the Dodgers, including 26 games at third base, four games at catcher and two games at first base.
“He provides us with very important catching depth,” Williams said.
The Dodgers reportedly are looking to clear payroll for Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto or others. Several reports on Friday said the Dodgers planned to release Bailey, who is no longer the Reds’ problem.
Williams made it a point during a conference call on Friday to say that the Reds are not done improving the club and that pitching will continue to be the focus.
“We still have resources to make this team better, both in prospect capital and financial wherewithal,” Williams said. “We intend to continue to work throughout this offseason to improve the club, anywhere on the diamond.”