Later Latos

With Mat Latos the Reds had a 27 year old pitcher (born December 9) who started 81 games over the last 3 seasons.  Latos provided the Reds 8.6 (exceeding Jon Lester’s production) WAR for a little over $12 million during his time in Cincinnati.

Pros:  At only 27, Latos is in his prime and potentially has several quality seasons left.  He’s a power pitcher who doesn’t give up a lot of home runs.  Up until 2014, he was dependable and solid.  He had 33 wins for the Reds in those 81 starts.  He improved his physical condition when he became a Red, as he was chided on Twiter as “Fat Latos”.  Well, somewhere along the way he became a pitcher and started taking his job seriously.  In 2012, he was 15th in WAR among all MLB pitchers and in 2013 he was 27th. The Reds got ace production out of him for two seasons.

Cons:  Most recently, Latos was sidelined for 85 games in 2014.  He was shut down on September 8 with elbow inflammation. He missed spring training and the first 66 games of the regular season recovering from knee surgery he had in February. But most importantly for the Reds, Latos is going to be a free agent at the end of 2015.   The injuries could just be a temporary stumbling block or it could be a sign of things to come.

In 2013, Baseball Prospectus had this to say about Latos:

“Latos moved from the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in MLB to one of the least, and yet his numbers remained virtually unchanged. Of the 25 homers he allowed, 18 came at home. Of those, all but three came with the bases empty, thus limiting the damage. His overall numbers at GABP were slightly better than on the road. After starting out slowly for his new team, Latos dominated in the second half. He has been worked hard for someone his age, and last year he showed a curious tendency to wear down in the middle innings that hadn’t surfaced before. Assuming the workload doesn’t come back to bite him, Latos should remain at the front of a big-league rotation for the foreseeable future.”

So was the trade a good deal for the Reds or not?

My first thoughts are that the Marlins could get more for Latos next summer in a trade than they gave up to get him.  Jockety has a spotty record when it comes to dealing with pitchers.  Maybe Jockety still feels the pain from the Mark Mulder deal he made in St. Louis.  However, no one seems to miss Edison Volquez around here these days despite his 2014 revival with the Pirates (0-2 vs. Reds in 2014).  Yahoo! Sports says Volquez is seeking $20 million over 2 years.  Maybe Jockety is on to something.

In return for Latos the Reds acquired RHP Anthony DeSclafani and C-R Chad Wallach (Tim Wallach’s son).  DeSciafani is a Manziel like mIdget at 6’1 and Wallach is a light hitting 23 year old minor league A level catcher.

So lets just skip to DeSciafani.  The scary part is that you have to believe the Reds fully expect DeSclafani to compete for a rotation spot.  Otherwise, they just threw Latos away to save money.  So can DeSciafani contribute to the Reds next year? John Fay doesn’t think so but that guy is never right about anything and has more lately just become a megaphone for the Reds front office.

DeSciafani is 24 years and 7 months old today. He pitched in the majors last season for Miami, starting 5 games. The 5 walks in 33 MLB innings shows some control.  Most think he will end up as a reliever and describe him with adjectives such as, “aggressive” and “confident”.  Baseball Prospectus had him listed as Miami’s 6th best prospect.  He was originally drafted by Toronto out of the University of Florida.

Baseball Prospectus had this to say:

DeSclafani is one of those arms that consistently pitches with a high level of confidence in his stuff. He isn’t afraid to come right after and challenge hitters, avoiding spells of nibbling and trying to be too fine. When the stuff is more solid average than well above average, however, there needs to be some element of finesse to avoid working in spots that usually result in ringing contact around the yard. The right-hander ran into this during his call-up in 2014, especially when working as a starter. DeSclafani’s mentality and fastball-slider combo likely slot him into a relief role over the long run, where his heater can play up a tick in short bursts and his aggressive approach fits with getting two or three concentrated outs before handing the ball over to someone else. There is a chance that the 24-year-old can tone things down a bit and get enough out of the changeup to hang as a starter on a second-division team for the early portion of his career. The righty should be in line to log major-league time in 2015, in all likelihood consistently coming out of Miami’s bullpen at some point in the season.

If this is all you get for a top 30 starting pitcher, it must have been completely motivated by the almighty dollar.  That scares that daylights out me.  The Reds are in such a financial boondoggle that they have to just give Latos away?  Why not trade him at the deadline last season, or give him a chance at a comeback and trade him in 2015 if the wheels fall off again?  What am I missing?  Maybe Latos’ health is a bigger deal than we believe.

Don’t even look here.  That Matt Kemp deal will make you sick to be a Reds fan.

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