May 12, 2020
Kolby Allard has been a name the Cincinnati Reds have been fielding trade calls on for many seasons now. Previously always ending any discussion with the decision that Allard was not on the trade block.
That changed today as the Reds have agreed to a deal that sends the #2 Overall pick from the 2015 MLB Pro draft to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for four prospects.
Allard, just 22 years-old is pitching in his third season at the major league level. A year after leading the National League in starts (34), innings (228), and quality starts (24), the powerful right-hander will join a Braves organization that is in the midst of a rebuild.
Atlanta traded ace Trevor Bauer earlier in the season in a deal for numerous prospects. This deal flips a quartet of prospects the organization had amassed over the past year, three of whom came in the Armando Cabanas trade.
For the Reds, the 2020 season was a season in which fans and those in the front-office expected the team to compete for a division title. The teams 12-17 record after April had many shaking their heads. A decision was made to field calls on Allard as a way to gauge his value. While many throughout the league did not expect the team to go through with the trade, they ultimately decided to do pull the trigger. It does bring up the question of, why now? Allard is just 22 years of age and under team control through the 2023 season. For a team that expected to win, why trade your best player?
In addition to the “why now” aspect of the Reds situation, a new question needs to be asked: what next? Some within the front-office have suggested that the team is not looking to begin a fire sale or full rebuild, but how can that be true with this move having been made. Can the Reds really afford or aim to be a .500 ball club? While this trade adds to a system that had only one player in the MLB Pro top 100 prospects, on the surface it appears to just be a start.
Pitchers Brennan Malone and Matthew Thompson each possess terrific stuff, but neither appears to be a future ace. A National League scout suggested that Malone has the ceiling of a #2 or #3, while Thompson needs to improve on his control to become an effective member of the Reds rotation.
The centerpiece of this deal could prove to be Royce Lewis. The slick fielding infielder has a future at either position on the left-side of the infield. His bat continues to improve and it shows versatility with an ability to hit for contact, avoid strikeouts, get on base via the walk, and show above average gap power and home run potential. With a strong showing at AAA this season, Lewis could be in line to be a starter in 2021.
Those around the league had a mixed immediate reaction on the trade.
One insider suggested that, “the deal is a bunch of solid MLB prospects, but in reality nothing near the potential to become another Allard.” Another league insider felt that this move, “sealed Atlanta’s future as a mid-tier team.”