Ken Rosenthal first reported this afternoon that the Reds have acquired right-handed starter Mat Latos from the Padres. In return, the Padres received Edinson Volquez, Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger, and Yasmani Grandal. Latos went 9-14 last season with San Diego, but had a 3.47 ERA. In 2010, he finished eighth in the Cy Young Award voting, going 14-10 with a 2.92 ERA as he carried the Padres into contention again. Volquez, after his magical 17-6 season in 2008, has gotten worse and worse, while also not being able to pitch a full season. Yonder Alonso may be the centerpiece of this deal, however. The 24 year-old Cuban first baseman was rated as the 73rd best prospect in baseball by Baseball America before this season. Boxberger and Gandal are both former first-round picks by the Reds in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
It seems like the Reds made a desperate move here by trading away so much for a big question mark in Latos. They will be counting on him to not be the 2011 Mat Latos, but to be the Mat Latos we all saw burst onto the scene in 2010, having a fantastic season for the Padres. This trade got me thinking. The Mets are also looking to deal a young pitcher in Jonathon Niese. However, they’re only looking to deal the young lefty if they get a huge return, which before this trade, seemed unlikely.
Now Niese’s value is rising. The Padres jacked up the price of quality young pitching to the point where now, the Mets might be able to get a deal that will blow them away.
I’ve been saying all along that there is no way Jonathon Niese should be traded. Here is a Tweet that will basically sum up my argument:
I went on, asking how expensive Niese could possibly end up being. If he is signed to a Matt Moore-type deal now, he will be so inexpensive for the Mets and will be able to be kept around for a long time.
There is no reason to trade a guy who has the potential to be a really good number two someday. He is one of the first successful Met pitching prospects in the last decade, so why are the Mets, who need young pitching more than ever as a young, rebuilding organization, looking to trade Niese? It doesn’t make sense unless they get a huge return for Niese, like the one the Padres got today for Latos.
Also, the deal couldn’t just be any favorable trade, it would have to be one where the Mets get hitting in return. The farm system is very, very weak on hitting right now, with the exception of Wilmer Flores. They need one or two top positional prospects very badly, or they are going to have nine Jayson Bays out there in a couple of years.
Niese could be traded, but neither I, no anyone in the front office, will agree with a trade unless it is very similar, if not better, than the trade made today by the San Diego Padres.