How the 7-Player Cincinnati Trade Impacts the Pursuit of Bryce Harper

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals
(Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)

The Los Angeles Dodgers have completed a deal which saw Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Kyle Farmer and Alex Wood sent to the Cincinnati Reds.

It’s not only a hugely impactful move in relation to their roster depth, but is extremely consequential in terms of their payroll.

The Dodgers are sending about $42 million of guaranteed money to the Reds while taking on about $28 million in new obligations.

The Dodgers are also expected to trim about $16 million in terms of the luxury tax, so this could very well be setting up a big acquisition in the near future.

Puig, Kemp, and Wood are all good players, but this is a money-saving endeavor that also gets the Dodgers two intriguing prospects in Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray.

Depth is a good problem to have, but this move certainly opens up some opportunities for players on the current roster to have a bit more of a defined role.

The rotation was inevitably going to leave a capable person on the outside looking in, just because there were so many viable options.

Wood is the guy who has been moved, so now a rotation consisting of Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler, Kenta Maeda, and Rich Hill to start the year appears a safe prediction as of now.

The outfield was similarly crowded, and moving Kemp and Puig is going to open up more opportunities for other guys.

The Dodgers outfield as of now looks like it’s going to consist of Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor, Kike Hernandez, Alex Verdugo, and Andrew Toles, in some shape or form.

Taylor and Hernandez are the right-handed hitters in that group, while the other guys in are left-handed hitters.

Both Taylor and Hernandez can play second base as well, so they’re both going to see time in the infield along with any outfield duties.

With Max Muncy the left-handed hitting option at first base, Bellinger is probably going to be primarily playing the outfield next season.

Pederson can remain the lefty-hitter in left field when the team faces right-handed pitchers, while a right-handed hitter like Taylor can get starts in left against lefty pitchers.

Taylor and Hernandez would both get starts at second base against righty pitchers when guys like Bellinger and Pederson got starts in the outfield in those situations.

Verdugo and Toles are also going to get more opportunities as a result of two fewer outfielders that they would have had to compete for playing time with.

The potential addition of Bryce Harper to that group would give the team an elite left-handed hitter to pencil into the lineup in right field every day.

Pederson, Bellinger, and Harper would then presumably be the starting outfield against right-handed starting pitchers.

The configuration of the outfield against lefty pitchers would be a bit more complicated, though, because if Taylor and Hernandez join Harper in the outfield, it would leave an opening at second base.

Brian Dozier is a free agent, and he was the guy who typically got starts at second base at the end of last season when both Taylor and Hernandez were in the outfield.

If Hernandez or Taylor plays second base against a righty, that could open up an opportunity in either left or center field for a guy who can hit well against lefties.

Harper would certainly fit into this lineup now that two of their right field options last season, Puig and Kemp, are no longer on the roster.

Clearing all that salary seems like it could be an obvious sign that they’re preparing to make a big offer to try to lure Harper.

It’d be hard to argue that the Dodgers wouldn’t be the presumptive favorites to once again represent the NL in the World Series next season if they’re able to acquire Harper.


18 thoughts on “How the 7-Player Cincinnati Trade Impacts the Pursuit of Bryce Harper

  1. I have a strong feeling Pederson’s gonna be the next to go in whatever deal comes the Dodgers’ way. With an outfield as stacked as the one the Dodgers currently have, really want to make sure the main three you regularly trot out there are capable of hitting both righties AND lefties on a fairly consistent basis. As for Dozier, I’d hand him a qualifying offer and tell him to take it or leave it. He’s already begun his decline as an MLB player a year or so back and probably knows it by now, too.

  2. Bellinger will be an every day player next year. And Muncy will get a shot every day as well. Kiki will get second and Pederson and Taylor will platoon in left. It’s Harper or Verdugo in right. If we sign Harper they’ll trade Verdugo.

  3. Not sure what current data says but a few years ago less than a third of ML pitchers were left handed. That’s a lot of right handed pitchers. Does it follow that a team should counter that with a higher percentage of LH hitters?

    As long as Taylor and Hernandez are here, they will each get a lot of at bats. Muncy hit LH pitching well last year. Pederson didn’t. Verdugo did hit against lhp in the minors but he didn’t show much in 19 ML PA’s in ‘18. And then there is Toles. If Harper comes, who goes? If it’s Pedserson that’s another 2.3 oWAR out the door. That’s ok if we replace it. The idea of Harper, Bellinger and Verdugo in the outfield every day is one that intrigues me. He’ll put Muncy on the field at the same time and I’ll bet we clobber most left handers in this league.

    Bellinger is currently listed as starting CFer. I sure hope they intend him to play every day. He didn’t fare well against left handers this year but in 2 years, 383 PA’s, he’s OPS’d .782. I say leave him in there so he can learn to hit them. We’ve platooned a few positions for a couple of years now. Was it by design or out of necessity? I hope it’s not who we are because every minor league outfielder wants to be an every day player. We did hear possible grumblings from a few who left. Can someone tell me if we are platooning in the minor leagues?

    Am I the only one who thinks Harper should be moved from right field if he comes here? Is he as bad as he looked this past year?

    1. Regarding your first point, it follows that a team should counter with a higher percentage of LH hitters plus Yasiel Puig.
      Regarding your last point, if the outfield consists of Harper, Bellinger, Verdugo and the manager is playing Harper anywhere but left field, he is a bad manager. If, seeing the other two that he is playing with, Harper makes it clear he wants to play right, he shouldn’t be on the team in the first place.

  4. At this moment I think Muncy, and Freese will platoon at first, I don’t have a clue at second, there was a cirvelli to the dodgers rumor floating around yesterday, but I think They are going to sign a cheap veteran like Wieters, trade verdugo and a package for kluber, trade Hill for prospects, and to offset klubers salary. one of the other GMs today anonymously, told a reported he would be shocked if the Dodgers didn’t get kluber. Then sign Harper. I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do it’s just the way I see things going.

    1. Assuming they don’t include him in a trade, I think they would like to see Muncy play most of the games at first, even some of the games against left handers. Freese will get his share of starts between some at first and some at third when JT needs a few days off. In the meanwhile, he’s a valuable pinch hitter. Really happy we have him.

  5. Early in the off season I thought Muncy would be moved so the team could move belly back to first. Now with the Puig/Kemp trade Muncy needs to be at first, because Cody needs to be the center fielder. I think all the fans are excited to have Freese back.

  6. Well you know how I feel about Bellinger in center. I think if he focuses on that position he could easily add 1 to his dWAR total. Verdugo, with his 94 mph strike throwing fastball and good speed is a natural choice for right field…. unless of course he is moved. Muncy at first feels like a no brainer to me. So does the AL. I’d rather see him go than Verdugo. Cleveland likely would prefer Verdugo.

    Kluber, Kelly and Harper, along with that veteran catcher choice, does make us better. I think. Hopefully it shakes out something like that. That trade to the Reds was like the first half of a football game. The second half is yet to come. I am anxious to see it.

    1. Petriello tweeted that he couldn’t understand the rumors of our interest in Castellanos since he is a logical AL player. Then he realized that Detroit might not want to trade him in the division and so the Indians and Dodgers might try an end-around as part of a Kluber deal. Just one more morsel on which to chew.

  7. I have had a couple of days to digest the trade, take emotion out of my thoughts and finally come to some sort of a conclusion about the entire situation. I have also been reading most of the pundits posts and story’s and a few things seem to be clearing up. I personally knew Matt Kemp would probably not be in a Dodger uni this year. They have been trying to trade him since day one. His comeback season raised his value some, but not enough to over shadow his pay. I knew that Wood was a redundant piece of the puzzle. They have two younger lefty’s with more team control who basically can do what he did if not do it better, Urias and Ferguson. Farmer, well Kyle is one of those players who’s versatility actually played against him on the Dodgers. If he was an outstanding defensive catcher, he would have made the team because he has a plus bat. We come to Yasiel. Possibly the most enigmatic and talented player to don a Dodger uniform in years. His meteoric arrival was something to see. That first year he was hitting over .400 on the first pitch. Although he was a little rough around the edges and tended to not have great fundamental skills, he excited the fan base. Especially after he doubled a guy off first to end a game. Excitement was his name. Then came the downward trends, some injury’s and what seemed to be a real attitude problem and some really immature behavior. It looked for sure like he was gone after the 2016 season. But they could not make a deal and he stayed. over the next 2 seasons he was more consistent than before, he matured into a reliable player. He still tried to show off his arm whenever he could and sometimes his base running was suspect. But he was still spectacular in RF, and as exciting to watch as ever. Fans loved watching his interaction with Turner Ward, the bat licking and he general playfulness. Now he is a Red. Reunited with Ward, who texted that he had just talked with Puig and he was excited to get started. As fans, we look at the trade and the first thing that comes to mind is that they are clearing payroll so that Harper can be signed. We also have learned through social media that Puig was a lot more loved by Dodger fans than anyone thought. over 75% of the posts were oh no posts. They traded Puig? OH NO> I started reading about all the rumors and stories and most said Harper is a lock. Well, the tune has changed. Most of the stories now say that the Dodgers are working on a Kluber trade first and foremost. It is on the front burner. Who goes? Well it would seem the prime candidate is Verdugo and maybe one of the new kids. The stories are also now surfacing that Harper is not on the front burner, but that they want a RH hitter instead. That is one reason you are hearing about Castellano’s. Probably because he might be a lot more gettable than Haniger. Also rising in speculation is that they might sign Pollock. Many roads to travel. Me, I am not going to judge this deal now, too emotionally tied to the players that left. I will wait and see what the team looks like headed into spring training. What I do know pretty much for certain is that there will be no announcement on any of this until after Christmas….might even be after the new year. But changes are a comin! Merry Christmas to all of you and may your presents wear Dodger blue.

    1. Not a peep huh? Apparently you haven’t looked at our current depth chart at He’s #1 in right field. I think it’s safe to say that will change.

      I have no emotional connection to any of those guys that left. I really liked Puig’s athletic talent, but his look at me antics rubbed me the wrong way. In the end I feel he is a glaring example of unrealized potential. He should be a 4-5 WAR player every year until he’s 32 and he isn’t because, in my opinion, he lacks the discipline needed. I look forward to what may be next.

  8. In the next couple of weeks we’re going to get to see how good Andrew really is, lots of work left to do.

  9. BTW I love Toles, don’t think he gets a fair shake. Hope he gets to play, in at least a platoon role, or gets traded somewhere he can play.

    1. I agree Keith. One has to wonder what he could do over a full year. He probably won’t get that chance here.

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