Jim Bowden may no longer be a boy genius, but that's hard to tell from the eight-player fleecing he put on his old mates, the Reds, today.
His Nats traded relief pitchers Gary Majewski and Bill Bray, shortstop Royce Clayton, utility man Brendan Harris, and prospect Daryl Thompson for right fielder Austin Kearns, shortstop Felipe Lopez, and reliever Ryan Wagner.
I cannot see how this trade helps the Reds now or in the future. I can't possibly see what they think they got out of the trade. Ostensibly it's middle relief help, but I'm not that impressed with what Majewski or Bray can do for them this year.
Clayton-for-Lopez is a severe downgrade. Majewski is an undistinguished middle reliever, with an OK ERA but with a WHIP, strikeouts to walk ratio, and a strikeouts per nine innings that are poor at best. Harris is a replacement level player.
The rest of the trade looks like they are trading for the future: Bray could be a future closer but has had such a short and uneven minor-league career (4.40 ERA and 1.36 WHIP but a 10.53K/9IP). But the Reds want him more as a middle reliever now than a closer latercuriouser and curiouser. Thompson is young but spent two undistinguished years in Single-A Savannah, and has a 6.75 ERA at the start of his third Single-A season, this time one step down in Short-Season Vermont. He looks like a guy who may never make it out of the lower minors.
Meanwhile, the Nats get a new right fielder who may be just slightly better than middle of the pack in OPS (.844, 10th out of the 17 RFs who qualify), but is a tremendous upgrade over their putative starter, Jose Guillen.
They get a shortstop who is ten years younger than Clayton, and is markedly better.
And they get a project in Ryan Wagner, who has a 6.34 ERA in Triple-A, but has at least had some major-league experience and is just 23. Wagner started strong in his first major-league tryout (1.66 and 25 K in 21.2 IP in 2003) but got worse each year in Cincinnati. A change of scene might help, and given his age and his former strikeout ability (until his second trial in Cincy).
Actually, the trade looks worse the more I look at it. At best the Reds cut salary. Lopez is making $1.7 M more than Clayton, and Kearns is making $1.85 M. But even so, that's not a lot of money, and the Reds are supposedly trying to make the postseason, not cut salary.
But perhaps Bowden put it best, "Philosophically, we believe that when you have a chance to trade a middle reliever for an everyday player, that's helpful," even though he cites injuries, not overall value, as the reason for this. I, frankly, don't have a lot of respect for the once highly vaunted Bowden, but even a broken clock is right twice a day, and it doesn't hurt to have an organization like the Reds to make trades with instead of for.