LOS ANGELES — Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo could be back in the Reds rotation by the end of August, Reds manager David Bell said Friday, but will the Reds be able to stay in the playoff hunt until then?
As Tuesday’s trade deadline looms, the trade market has started to loosen up, with the Dodgers getting veteran Lance Lynn on Friday and the White Sox sending Lucas Giolito to Anaheim two days before. We’ve also seen the reliever market intensify with Kendall Graveman going to the Astros and David Robertson heading to Miami.
Well, needing both starters and relievers, they’ve not made any deals yet.
“If there’s something we can do, I want to make sure we’re leaving no stone unturned,” Reds general manager Nick Krall said Friday afternoon. “But at the same time … I want to make sure that we’re building this for sustainability, not just for a one-year playoff run.”
Despite having four rookies as part of their everyday position players and a pair of rookies in the rotation, the team still has enough prospects to make a competitive bid for any of the top pitchers on the market.
Teams know the Reds need pitching and know they have prospects. While prices are coming down, Krall has yet to make a move.
“For us, it’s really hard to give up players that we feel are going to be here long-term when you’re trying to build a sustainable roster,” Krall said.
That includes the team’s top trade chip, Noelvi Marte, who hit his second homer in Triple A on Friday and is hitting .325/.379/.542 with 11 extra-base hits in 21 games since being promoted. Also at Triple A are right-handers Connor Phillips and Lyon Richardson. Phillips has a 2.38 ERA in his first five starts in Louisville, while Richardson made his Triple-A debut Friday and struck out five in three innings. Richardson is on an innings limit after 2021 Tommy John surgery.
The Reds have players that teams covet further down, including shortstop Edwin Arroyo, who was acquired along with Marte last year for Luis Castillo, and second baseman Cam Collier, a first-round pick a year ago. There’s also Chase Petty, whom the Reds acquired for Sonny Gray ahead of the 2021 season.
In short, the Reds have depth in their system and have players who could bring immediate help. And the help the Reds need is exactly that, immediate.
Trading pitching can be tricky — look no further than the Reds’ deadline deals a year ago. Castillo helped the Mariners reach the playoff for the first time in more than 20 years after the Reds sent him west. The Twins are the other side of the coin, dealing for an immediate need and in the end Tyler Mahle will have made just nine starts for the Twins before reaching free agency after this season and missing most of this year after undergoing elbow surgery. Both position players the Reds received from the Twins, Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, have become regulars for the Reds, while lefty Steve Hajjar was part of a package that landed Will Benson, another regular.
Greene, who last pitched on June 17, threw live batting practice in Arizona on Friday, pitching between 96 and 99 mph and throwing all his pitches, Bell said. He’s scheduled to throw two innings for the Reds’ Arizona Complex League on Tuesday and then, if all goes well, head to Louisville for a start there next Saturday.
Lodolo, who last appeared in a game for the Reds on May 6, threw a side session Friday and his ETA has been pumped up to the end of August. He and Greene, who were expected to be the strength of the Reds this season, should both be pitching for the Bats in August.
Tejay Antone, who last pitched in the big leagues in 2021 before undergoing his second Tommy John surgery, has made one appearance in Arizona and is expected to go to Louisville next week. Casey Legumina and Vladimir Gutiérrez both threw scoreless innings in Arizona on Friday. Legumina is expected to go to Louisville this week, while Gutierrez will stay in Arizona for a little longer.
That’s two starters and three relievers who could join the team by September. Richardson could join the bullpen by the end of the season, as could Phillips.
None of those players listed, though, are sure things to return and none have significant track records in the big leagues.
Nothing really has changed over the last couple of weeks. The Reds are still in the playoff hunt. They still need pitching, both in the rotation and in the bullpen.
“Guys coming back is definitely going to help this team,” Krall said. “I don’t think we need to sit, though.”
(Photo of Elly De La Cruz and TJ Friedl leaping in celebration of the Reds’ win over the Dodgers on Friday: Kiyoshi Mio / USA Today)