The Reds pulled a shocking move today, trading closer Raisel Iglesias to the Angels in exchange for Noe Ramirez and a player to be named later. On the surface, it feels like a straight salary dump, as Iglesias was set to make $9.125 million in 2021. Iglesias was an elite reliever in 2020, posting a 2.74 ERA, supported by a 2.50 xERA and stellar StatCast numbers.
There are really two ways that this trade could make some sense from the Reds’ perspective. The first is financial, while the second revolves around the mystery of the player to be named later.
It’s been widely known the Reds are trying to cut payroll, and have been reportedly trying to trade Sonny Gray in recent days. If the money saved from trading Iglesias allows them to keep Gray while still acquiring a shortstop, this trade could make some sense. Gray, a starting pitcher that will likely make 30+ starts, has a lot more value to the Reds than Iglesias would. Reds President of Baseball Operations Nick Krall seemed to indicate this trade was about financial flexibility.
Krall said multiple times that dealing Iglesias helps "reallocate resources" for using $ on different things — SS, rotation, bullpen depth, but said no free agent signings are imminent.— Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) December 7, 2020
The return doesn’t make a ton of sense from the Reds’ perspective, but it’s possible the return is better than expected. First, the known quantity is Noe Ramirez, a reliever with a career 4.18 ERA (106 ERA+) and 4.51 FIP. Those numbers don’t exactly inspire a ton of confidence, and a quick look at his StatCast page doesn’t paint a much more optimistic picture.
Still, Ramirez brings an above-average curveball spin rate, something the Reds have valued recently. Ramirez is under control for three more seasons, and Iglesias will be a free agent after 2021, so the added control does hold some value.
The mystery in this trade lies in the player to be named later. While they are often insignificant pieces, players to be named later can sometimes be significant. Perhaps this player is a legitimate prospect that could make the return worth it from the Reds’ perspective.
For the Reds’ bullpen, they are left without a proven closer, though not without options. Lucas Sims, Amir Garrett, Michael Lorenzen, and others could be candidates. Additionally, they could acquire another pitcher to fill the closer role, and the free agent market is headlined by former Cleveland closer Brad Hand. It remains to be seen how the rest of the Reds’ offseason will play out, but for now, this trade will be seen as a big mystery.