The recent signing of Jonathan Broxton seems to have shed some light on the Reds' intentions for the 2013 season. Not only does it look as though Broxton will be taking over the closer's role, but all signs point to Aroldis Chapman joining the starting rotation.
With Chapman assuming a new role outside of the bullpen, Cincinnati is left with a gaping hole in its relief corps. It's a hole that the Reds must fill before next season.
So why should the Reds trade for a reliever rather than sign one from the field of free agents?
Simple. Why overpay when you have the assets to acquire the help you need via trade. The best free-agent reliever still available is Rafael Soriano, who already opted out of a huge payday with the Yankees in order to test the market.
Kyuji Fujikawa will be testing the U.S. market after a long career in Japan. The 32-year-old has potential. But, can that potential and his 1.32 ERA (for the Hanshin Tigers in 2012) translate to Major League Baseball?
Then there is Joakim Soria. He is another free agent that is closer material. But, the fact that he sat out all of 2012 injured could hamper his ability to gain a closer role. He may have to settle for a setup role. Soria will probably request a similar contract to that which Ryan Madson just signed. With the signing of Broxton to such a large deal, the Reds can't afford that large of a risk with no guarantees.
The point I am making here is that free-agent help is not going to be cost effective to fill this need. So why not look to trade? They have the bodies to do so.
Who would be potential trade candidates that could bring solid relief help in return?
Lets start with Mike Leake. He is going to be the odd-man out. If the Reds believe that Tony Cingrani is the real deal then he becomes Bronson Arroyo's replacement once his contract is up. Cingrani also becomes your sixth starter in 2013.
Leake actually holds some very good value. Don't forget about his 2011 performance (12-9 with 3.86 ERA and 1.17 WHIP), the fact that he is only 25 years old and is a former first-round draft pick.
Everybody's favorite man, Drew Stubbs, will most likely find himself on the trade block this offseason. Will it be for outfield help or for relief help? Look at it this way. Stubbs is only going to bring you someone of equal value in the outfield unless you pair him with significant other talent. But, his "potential" talent could net you a top-of-the-line reliever.
Chris Heisey. Yes, I said it. Many readers will balk at the thought, but the truth is that Heisey and Stubbs are very similar. Don't believe me? Check out the stats.
Bet you didn't know that Drew Stubbs' -0.2 WAR in 2012 was actually better than Chris Heisey, who produced a -0.3 WAR. Both maintain the same 0.25 BB/K ratio. It's time to move on, and someone will throw in a pretty good reliever for Heisey and a minor leaguer.
So I guess you're probably asking who the Reds should go after in a trade? Well, lets leave that up to Walt Jocketty (or the fans to speculate).
I would recommend some potential trading partners, though. There are teams out there that could benefit from players like Leake, Subbs and Heisey. The Oakland A's (Ryan Cook and/or Grant Balfour) come to mind, as do the Kansas City Royals (Tim Collins and/or Greg Holland). Both teams are full of young and talented relievers and could be a great swap for Mike Leake and/or an outfielder that can cover a lot of ground.
The teams with needs are there. Now it's up to the scouts and brain trust to find the talent on those teams that can benefit the Reds.
You can follow Josh Ramsey on Twitter @JRamCincy