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Trade Deadline Recap: Reds Make Room For Alonso, Deal Gomes to Nationals

August 1, 2011

For a team out of contention, the trading deadline can often be a means to move a veteran for prospects with the intention of creating playing time for a player waiting in the wings. The Cincinnati Reds find themselves in 4th place in the NL Central but aren’t exactly out of contention just yet. But, leading up the deadline it seemed more and more likely that the team would try to move one of their outfielders in order to free up room for Yonder Alonso to play everyday.

Alonso, 24, has been ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100 list for each of the past three seasons but his path to the Majors has largely been blocked considering his natural position is occupied by 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto. The Reds have been trying him out in left field and he has been consistently hitting Triple-A pitching well. Over the better part of the past two seasons he’s hit .296/.364/.478 with 24 HR and 112 RBI in 764 at bats. He’s not the most agile outfielder but he shouldn’t be a defensive liability in the field either. It was widely believed that he was targeted in most trade discussions by the Reds leading up to the deadline but ultimately they were able to hold onto him.

In order to make room for one of the team’s top prospects, the Reds took advantage of a still-early-developing market and traded Jonny Gomes to the Washington Nationals on July 26th in exchange for a pair of players, outfielder Bill Rhinehart and left handed pitcher Chris Manno.

Rhinehart, 26, was nearly leading the Double-A Eastern League in home runs at the time of the trade but it was his fourth year at the level. A right fielder, he’s not known to be much of a defender according to Baseball America. Manno, 22, has converted 12 of 13 save opportunities while pitching in Low-A. He’s leading the Southern League in K/9 (14.3) and opponent’s batting average (.135).

Gomes, 30, will be a free agent at the end of the season and gives the Nationals a right handed platoon partner for Laynce Nix in left field. Gomes has long been a power threat, particularly against left handed pitchers but much of his career has been of the all-or-nothing approach. In 2011 he’s batting just .211/.336/.399 with 11 HR and 74 strikeouts in 218 at bats.

The peculiar part of this deal is that leading up to the deadline it had been widely reported that the Nationals were searching for a center fielder, rather a corner outfielder. They were unable to acquire the player they had been desiring but I’m struggling to see how Gomes fits into the lineup for the remainder of the season. Roger Bernadina has played fairly well in center field since he started to receive the bulk of the playing time. He’s hit a modest .247/.312/.352 but he has stolen 16 bases and provided exceptional defense. Surprisingly he was sent down to Triple-A with Rick Ankiel moving back into center field. It would seem more prudent to continue playing Bernadina in center to see what kind of future he has and Ankiel can share time with Nix in left.

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