There’s no denying Mat Latos’ ability to be a top-end rotation starter in the National League, and the Padres took advantage of that after trading him to Cincinnati for Edinson Volquez, two top prospects and a minor leaguer on Saturday.
Latos went a misleading 9-14 for a poor hitting San Diego offense last season with a 1.18 WHIP and 185 strikeouts in 194.1 innings. He’ll bring stability to the top of the Reds’ rotation in pairing him with Jonny Cueto, but at an overly costly price.
To obtain Latos from the Padres, the Reds had to give up Volquez, along with the team’s two top prospects in power-hitting IF/OF Yonder Alonso and catching prospect Yasmani Grandal. Alonso, 24, hit .330/.398/.545 in 47 games and 88 at bats this year and was a career .299 hitter in the minor leagues. While he doesn’t have a set position, Alonso projects as a middle-of-the-order power bat and joins an offensive nucleus in San Diego led by Chase Headley and Anthony Rizzo.
Grandal, 23, is a former first round pick along with Alonso and brings a strong bat to the Padres’ catching corps. He hit .305/.401/.500 at three levels last season and should start the year in AAA Tucson with a strong chance to make the big club in short order. Grandal may have been deemed expendable from Cincinnati’s standpoint because they already have an excellent catching prospect in Devin Mesoraco. Reds GM Walt Jocketty was dealing from a strength in that respect, but it’s still a lot to give up. San Diego also received minor league reliever Brad Boxberger in the deal, and he could be a candidate to make the 25-man roster coming out of Spring Training.
Volquez went 5-7 with a 5.71 ERA in 20 starts in 2011 in a season plagued by injury and ineffectiveness, but the Padres hopes he regains some of his lost form in a low-risk acquisition.
Jocketty noted that it takes a lot to acquire a starter of Latos’ quality. “To acquire a pitcher who is ready to fit into the top of a rotation, you have to give up talent,” he said. ”When we have Cueto and Latos at the top of our rotation, I think people are going to take notice.”
People will certainly take notice, but likely at the players San Diego was able to acquire. Score a big one for Padres GM Josh Byrnes as he tries to rebuild the team.