Johnny Cueto

John Fay on Hot Stove Show: Don't expect Johnny Cueto or Mat Latos to be traded this winter

November 07, 2014 - 2:09 am
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John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, in an interview on WEEI's Hot Stove Show, said that while he can imagine a scenario in which Reds starters Johnny Cueto and/or Mat Latos are dealt prior to the July 31 trade deadline in 2015, he does not expect either pitcher to be dealt this coming offseason. "I don't see either one getting traded, Johnny Cueto because he's coming off such a good year. I think the Reds think their best chance to win is with him. In Mat Latos' case, he's had three separate injuries that put him on the disabled list last year, so I don't think the market for him is as great as it once was," said Fay. "Now if the Reds struggle out of the gate, and they decide to sell around the trade deadline, you could see one or both of them go, but my guess is that you'll see them start the season with both of them. "I think you've got to look at the mindset of the owner," added Fay. "They have the All-Star Game next year. He thinks this is a big chance  to sell some season tickets and to make a run, and they think their best chance is with those guys." Cueto went 20-9 with a 2.25 ERA in 243 2/3 innings in 2014. He will be pitching under a $10 million team option in 2015, after which he'll be eligible for free agency. Latos was limited to just 16 starts with a host of injuries, going 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA, but that snapped a string of four straight years of 30-plus starts for the 26-year-old, who has a 3.27 ERA over the last five years. Latos, like Cueto, will be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season. Fay said that he can see the Reds making a deal involving another member of their 2014 rotation, with an eye towards improving the team's offense, with left field (and an elevated on-base percentage) a focus of Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty. "I think the need is a left fielder. They were 13th in on-base percentage in the National League last year after being third the year before. A lot of that had to do with Joey Votto being out and the loss of Shin-Soo Choo," said Fay. "From what Walt Jocketty said, they see the need for an on-base guy. Aoki might fit what they do. They might go after a free-agent like Michael Morse. I don't think they can afford all four [starting pitchers] long-term. "I think there's a better chance that one of the lesser guys would be traded, with Alfredo Simon or Mike Leake, where the Reds try to make a deal to help the offense. The offense wasn't good enough last year," he continued. "The situation in left field, their best hitting prospect is maybe one year away, so I don't see them locking up a guy for three or four years for left field. Their payroll is probably to the brink of where they have to sell off just to try to make the budget work. I think they want to improve the team, but I don't think they're going to tear it up and make any huge moves in the offseason. I could be wrong but that's the feeling I get." Fay said that he believes that the Reds will have enough money available to sign one of either Cueto or Latos to a long-term deal, but not both. "It's just a matter of who they choose," said Fay. Fay suggested that he thinks the Reds will struggle to keep closer Aroldis Chapman, the 26-year-old who averaged a mind-blowing 17.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2014, over the long haul. "He's a free agent after '16. I just don't see them keeping him, but the owner really likes him. He brings an electricity to the end of the game and the fans really like him. If you're talking just from a Moneyball perspective, they're going to pay a closer a lot of money. He's eligible for arbitration the next two years and I don't think he's going to break the bank there. But signing him long-term could be very difficult," said Fay. "He's one of the most dominant closers in baseball. Can I team like the Reds afford that? I think they can. They probably at some point should have put him in the rotation, but that ship has kind of sailed. My guess is they trade him next offseason or he ends up walking as a free agent after '16."

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