Scooter Gennett: Solid Reds Waiver Claim

Dick Williams only recently took the reins as the new general manager of the Cincinnati Reds, but already has made a couple shrewd moves. Trading starting pitcher Dan Straily to the Miami Marlins for a trio of prospects headlined by pitcher Luis Castillo was one. That January move came after the Reds had claimed Straily off the waiver wire just days before the 2016 season began. Straily wound up throwing 191.1 innings for the team that season with a 3.76 ERA, while giving up 31 home runs (tied for seventh-most in baseball). He posted a FIP (fielding independent pitching) of 4.88. While Straily still had four years of team control left, the Reds chose to trade him while they felt his value was at its peak.

The second noteworthy move made by Williams came two and a half months later. In the final week of Spring Training, the Reds claimed Scooter Gennett off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers. The now 27-year-old left-handed batter had played primarily second base for parts of the last four seasons. Over that time, he compiled a .279/.318/.420 slash line with a .738 OPS and a 99 OPS+. As a second baseman, Gennett has been below average defensively, committing 14 errors in 2016 (tied for worst in the NL in that category with former Red Brandon Phillips and second in MLB to the Rangers’ Rougned Odor). Gennett provides the Reds something they’ve been lacking in recent seasons: a bench player who has power in his bat and the versatility to play multiple positions.

Through the Cincinnati Reds’ first 37 games of 2017, Gennett has appeared in 30 of them. This includes 16 starts. He has played four defensive positions this season: second base, third base, left field, and right field. Over this period, Gennett has yet to commit an error. His slash line currently sits at .296/.324/.535, with four doubles, two triples, and three home runs in 71 at-bats. Gennett’s OPS+ for 2017 is at 120.

Perhaps most impressive is Gennett’s WAR, which is at 0.5. If he continues to produce offensively and defensively at his current level of play, he will finish 2017 with a WAR value greater than 2. To put that into perspective, the Reds only had four batters compile a WAR equal or greater than 2 in 2016: Joey Votto (4.0), Adam Duvall (3.2), Billy Hamilton (2.8), and Zack Cozart (2.0). Starting second baseman Phillips only contributed 0.8 WAR. Even more noteworthy is that all of these players were everyday starters. For bench players, the highest WAR in the 2016 season came from Hernan Iribarren, who in 45 plate appearances after his September call-up delivered a WAR of 0.2.

Also interesting is the comparison of Gennett’s 2017 performance with that of everyday second baseman Jose Peraza. Though Peraza (147) has had twice the number of plate appearances as Gennett (74), Gennett has outperformed him. Peraza currently has a WAR of 0.0, the worst number of any everyday player on the team. He is slashing .243/.279/.300, with a total of six extra-base hits and no home runs. His OPS+ is sitting at an atrocious 52.

It will be interesting to see how Gennett and Peraza play throughout the remainder of the still-young 2017 season. If Gennett continues to produce anywhere close to his current level, it will be hard to see the Reds choosing not to retain him for the next two seasons. He is arbitration-eligible two more times, meaning that Gennett’s $2.525 million salary will continue to rise each of those seasons. The Reds could also potentially sign the 27-year-old  to an extension before he hits arbitration this December to buy out his two seasons of arbitration-eligibility.

Success Now or Top Draft Pick Later?

2016 is a rebuilding year for the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are not looking to contend, and as the media so often points out, “it’s not about 2016”. Rather, it is a year in which the team is letting its young talent develop in the minors. Ideally, some of that talent will eventually join the major league roster during this season and get major league playing time. It is safe to bet that the Reds are going to continue to rebuild their major league roster and stockpile young prospects at the July trade deadline and this coming winter. Players such as Zack Cozart, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips (if he approves such a deal) could head to new clubs if they remain healthy and reasonably productive at the plate.

If you go by what many broadcasters and sportswriters say, the Reds will not be contenders again until 2018 at the earliest. Personally, I find it difficult to believe the Reds’ front office will not attempt to contend heading into the 2017 season. With a starting rotation of Stephenson, Reed, Bailey, Iglesias, and DeSclafani, and a lineup including Barnhart/Mesoraco, Votto, Phillips, Suarez, Peraza, Duvall, Hamilton, and Winker, the Reds could easily have a winning record. That rotation would instantly improve the black hole that the 2016 bullpen has been. Bullpen candidates could include Lamb, Moscot, Straily, Lorenzen, Adleman, Finnegan, and Cingrani. This is assuming both that all members of the rotation are healthy and that the front office doesn’t trade any of these pitchers for a bat.

What’s even more intriguing is that even after the promotion of the aforementioned four prospects, the Reds will have another group to follow shortly thereafter. This next round could include LHP Amir Garrett (AA), RHP Keury Mella (A-Adv), 2B Alex Blandino (AA), RHP Nick Travieso (AA), OF Phil Ervin (AA), and RHP Rookie Davis (AA).

Regardless of the front office’s approach to 2017 and beyond, the Reds are not attempting to win this season. That became obvious when Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman were traded in December. It became even more obvious when the Reds delayed promoting their top prospects to avoid future Super Two status. Needless to say, this makes it difficult to be a Reds fan in 2016. If the Reds are not contending, should I still root for the team to win every game it can? Or should I be okay with them losing often, as it will ultimately result in a higher draft pick in 2017? Though the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins are off to an early “lead” for the top two spots, the Milwaukee Brewers and Reds could battle for spot three or four.

This leads to a conundrum for Reds fans this year. Do I want to see the Reds be mildly competitive and end up with a pick between five and ten? Or do I want to see them tank and get the second or third draft pick?

Relief for Reds Bullpen on the way?

To say the Cincinnati Reds bullpen is weak is an understatement. Through the first 13 games of the 2016 season, the Reds’ bullpen has pitched a whopping 49.1 innings, second-most in all of baseball only to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Reds’ relievers have given up 31 earned runs this season, which results in a combined bullpen ERA of 5.66. The Texas Rangers and the Colorado Rockies are the only teams with worse bullpens.

The following screenshot from ESPN illustrates the extent of the bullpen’s woes. The only reliever to not yet give up an earned run this season is Caleb Cotham (who was one of the four players acquired by the Reds in the Aroldis Chapman trade). Along with Cotham, only Blake Wood, Dan Straily, and Tony Cingrani have ERAs under 5.00. With today’s roster move to call up Robert Stephenson to pitch tonight for the injured Alfredo Simon in the rotation, the Reds sent Jumbo Diaz to Louisville. That move came after the Reds sent down Keyvius Sampson last week.

Reds Bullpen ERAs 4.19.2016

As of right now, Cincinnati’s bullpen is comprised of one lefty (Cingrani) and four right-handers (Cotham, Wood, Ohlendorf, Hoover). It appears safe to assume that with Dan Straily’s effective start last night against the Rockies that he will continue to occupy the rotation spot vacated by righty Tim Melville. This would likely place Melville as the sixth reliever for the time being, though his results as a starter were cause for his demotion from the rotation (2 starts, 7.0 total innings, 7 ER, 2.571 WHIP).

Reinforcements for the Reds’ bullpen should be arriving within the next month. Injured starting pitchers John Lamb, Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey, and Michael Lorenzen are all expected to begin minor league rehab assignments soon. When they return by mid-May, the Reds’ front office will have some difficult decisions to make. This is in addition to top pitching prospects Stephenson and Cody Reed (who was placed on the DL today in AAA for a finger injury).

The rotation currently consists of Raisel Iglesias, Brandon Finnegan, Jon Moscot, Dan Straily, and Alfredo Simon (although Stephenson is being called up today to make a start for him due to injury). If Iglesias and Finnegan continue pitching effectively, it is hard to see the Reds removing them from their rotation. Bailey and DeSclafani are locks for the rotation when they return. That takes up four spots out of the five. The fifth spot will likely go to Stephenson, once service time considerations are no longer a concern in 2016.

With a rotation of Iglesias-Finnegan-Bailey-DeSclafani-Stephenson, that results in a whole handful of potential new faces for the bullpen. Lamb, Lorenzen, Moscot, Straily, and Simon could all potentially end up in that role. If Cody Reed makes his major league debut this season, yet another member of the rotation could be bumped to the bullpen. Within the next month, one of the worst bullpens in MLB could become one of the strongest. Of course, all of this assumes that the pitchers remain healthy or return to health and that the current starters continue pitching effectively in their roles. Yet even with a setback or two along the way, the Reds’ bullpen should soon receive a major facelift.

 

Reaction to the Reds’ rebuild

Todd Frazier was dealt away by the Cincinnati Reds yesterday, the first Red to be shipped to a new team this winter. He won’t be the last. Reports coming from Ken Rosenthal on Twitter tonight are saying that the Reds and Nationals have a trade agreement in place to send second baseman Brandon Phillips east. Brandon Phillips himself posted a tweet at 9:09 P.M. that said the following:

513 to 202 ✈️

202 is the area code for Washington DC. Phillips has a no-trade clause due to his ten-five rights, so he would have to accept a trade. However, it’s hard to imagine him not going to the Nationals, given that they are expected to be a contender in 2016 and the Reds’ roster is in reconstruction. Even more tempting for Phillips is the ability to play once again for newly-hired Nationals manager Dusty Baker. Brandon Phillips may be comfortable in Cincinnati, but the 34-year-old has yet to appear in a World Series. Given his age, one would imagine that Phillips would like the chance to win a ring before the end of his playing career.

The fan reaction on social media after the Todd Frazier trade yesterday and these Brandon Phillips rumors tonight has been largely negative. Yes, trades are disappointing, especially when they involve players who have become fan-favorites. There were no players on the Reds’ 2015 team more fan-friendly than those two. However, the Reds must continue to look forward toward the future.

2017 or 2018 is the earliest the Reds are likely to have a chance to contend in the NL Central again. Frazier and Phillips will both be free agents in their thirties after the 2017 season. If Frazier continues to play like he did in 2014 and the first half of 2015, his next contract will likely be over $75 million. Paying him that kind of money beginning at age 32 would be like repeating the Brandon Phillips 2012 contract extension all over again. While the Phillips contract is not unreasonable, the Reds are a mid-market team financially and also have Joey Votto and Homer Bailey under contract for substantial salaries. There is only so much money to go around.

Baseball is a business. Rebuilding is a part of that business, especially for small and mid-market teams. The Atlanta Braves are going through the exact same thing the Reds are going through right now. I’m sure their fans weren’t happy to see players like Andrelton Simmons, Craig Kimbrel, Justin Upton, or Jason Heyward traded away the last two seasons.

Keeping a player such as Brandon Phillips on the roster for the next two seasons will only block playing time for the young, future players of the franchise. Jose Peraza will be able to play regularly at second base at the major league level in 2016 to prepare for future seasons. Eugenio Suarez will likely move over to third base.

Depending on the return for Phillips and whether or not Jay Bruce gets traded this winter, the 2016 lineup may look something like this:

  1. Peraza (2B)
  2. Suarez (3B)
  3. Votto (1B)
  4. Mesoraco (C)
  5. Bruce (RF)
  6. Duvall ??? (LF)
  7. Cozart (SS)
  8. Pitcher
  9. Hamilton (CF)

The lineup may not look exciting, but if everyone remains healthy and Mesoraco and Cozart hit like they have demonstrated they are able to, the Reds might score some runs this year. Yes, the Reds may struggle with lower attendance at Great American Ball Park next year. When the Reds begin winning again though, the fans will be back. Just ask the Astros.

Todd Frazier: A Red no longer

The trade of Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox was not exactly unexpected for many Reds fans. It has been reported throughout this offseason that the Reds are open to trading anybody on their roster for the right return. After a disastrous 2015 season during which the team lost 98 games and finished in last place in the National League Central division, 36 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals, it was evident that changes needed to be made.

After the Aroldis Chapman to the Dodgers trade fell through early last week at the Winter Meetings due to the uncovering of domestic violence allegations against the closer, the Reds needed to look elsewhere to improve their team for future seasons. Two-time All-Star and 2015 Home Run Derby champion Todd Frazier was the other top trade chip at the Reds’ disposal. The third baseman is under contract through 2016 for $7.5 million and arbitration-eligible for a final time in 2017 before becoming a free agent prior to his age-32 season.

Prior to the 2015 All-Star break, Frazier compiled a slash line of .284/.337/.585, with 25 home runs. His post All-Star break/Home Run Derby numbers were much less inspiring: .220/.274/.390 and only ten additional homers. The right-handed batter’s career numbers are .257/.321/.463 with 108 home runs over 633 games. Over his five years in the majors, Frazier has been a 15.3 Wins Above Replacement player, with 14.5 of those coming since 2012 and 9.3 since 2014.

Among third basemen, Todd Frazier tied for ninth place in terms of WAR in 2015 with 4.0. The leader was American League MVP Josh Donaldson with 8.8. Frazier was tied for fourth (with Matt Carpenter and Jung Ho Kang) in the National League, behind Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, and Matt Duffy. In 2014, Frazier was tied for fourth among major league third basemen with Josh Harrison, each earning 5.3 WAR.

Todd Frazier was the only non-rookie/non-prospect player involved in the seven-player, three-team deal. The White Sox were the recipients of Frazier and shipped prospects Frankie Montas (pitcher), Micah Johnson (second baseman), and Trayce Thompson (outfielder) to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers then sent the Reds the following trio of prospects: Jose Peraza (second baseman), Brandon Dixon (second/third baseman) , and Scott Schebler (outfielder).

The reaction among baseball writers and fans today largely seems to label the Reds as being on the “losing” end of the trade. Lance McAlister of Cincinnati radio station WLW compiled some of these reactions.

While I will not write much here about the prospects acquired today by the Reds, Jose Peraza is the name being mentioned most frequently as the headliner of the Reds’ return. Peraza is just 21 years of age and has now been traded twice this year, the first time being in July from the Braves to the Dodgers in the blockbuster deal with the Marlins. The Venezuelan right-handed batter slashed a combined .293/.316/.378 with his two AAA teams in 2015. Peraza stole 33 bases, but hit just four home runs. His overall career minor league numbers include a line of .302/.342/.387, with 210 stolen bases and nine home runs over five seasons. An MLB.com article by Andrew Simon has the following words from Reds president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty about Peraza:

“Peraza was a guy that we had focused on and identified as a guy we thought could be a second baseman or a shortstop for us for a number of years…He’s young, he’s had a lot of success at a young age, hits, an above-average runner, and a solid defensive guy. He does a lot of things well, and we’ve had guys watch him quite a bit, both with the Dodgers last year and with the Braves last year and years before, and they had excellent reports on him.”

This is a trade that will likely take at least the next five years to fully analyze and determine the “winner” of. While Frazier’s contributions to the White Sox will be complete by the end 2017, the other six players in the deal are controlled through at least the 2021 season. While trading a hometown favorite player such as Frazier is painful for Cincinnati fans, even more painful is the inability of the Reds to contend in the N.L. Central and reach the playoffs. The trade return for the Reds may seem questionably light for two years of Todd Frazier, but Walt Jocketty has demonstrated in the past his ability to make trades that work out well for the Reds. Recently these have included trading Johnny Cueto for three left-handed pitching prospects, Mat Latos for Anthony DeSclafani and a prospect, Alfredo Simon for Eugenio Suarez and a prospect, and two pitching prospects for Jonathan Broxton. While Peraza certainly lacks power and does not take many walks, he does hit for average and is a major threat on the basepaths. It will be interesting to see where he slots into the lineup and how he performs at the major league level in 2016. Part of that will hinge on whether or not the Reds trade current second baseman Brandon Phillips.

Todd Frazier may now be a member of the Chicago White Sox, but Reds fans will always have this memory.

 

 

A Case for Trading Brandon Phillips

The Cincinnati Reds were a losing baseball team in 2014. Things went downhill even further in 2015, to the point where they ended up with the 29th worst record in all of baseball. The team is currently in what it is referring to as a reboot or rebuilding phase. Three National League Central teams finished 2015 having won 97 or more games and all ended up in the playoffs. The Milwaukee Brewers and the Reds finished 32 and 36 games out of first place, respectively.

The Reds’ chances of contending in 2016 are about as likely as that of the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper sitting next to teammate Jonathan Papelbon on a team flight next season. Even if Homer Bailey, Zack Cozart, and Devin Mesoraco all return healthy and productive (and the rest of the team stays healthy), it is difficult to see Cincinnati Reds going from being a 64-win team to one that wins over 90 games.

Going into the 2015 offseason, it was obvious that the Reds needed to make trades to bring in younger talent. Closer Aroldis Chapman appeared to be one of their most significant trade chips, as well as the most urgent, given the fact that he only has one year of team control left prior to entering free agency. Trading him prior to Opening Day 2016 would allow an acquiring team to not only receive a full year of control, but also give them the ability to make a qualifying offer to Chapman following the season. Given the fact that MLB is now investigating the domestic violence claims against him, he is not getting traded any time soon. The Reds’ other significant trade chip, third baseman Todd Frazier, is still available and being discussed by multiple teams.

Jay Bruce is perhaps the next most likely candidate to be traded, but the 28-year-old right fielder is coming off a pair of seasons in which he put together a .222/.288/.406 slash line, with 44 home runs and 294 strikeouts. By comparison, over the 2012 and 2013 seasons, he hit .257/.328/.495, with 64 home runs and 340 strikeouts. Bruce is owed $12.5 million next year and has a $13 million team option for 2017. Unless the Reds receive an overwhelming trade offer for Bruce, it may be in their best interest to retain him until at least the trade deadline in July in an effort to improve his trade value.

That leaves Brandon Phillips. The 34-year-old second baseman is under contract for the next two seasons, for a total of $27 million dollars. The four-time Gold Glove winner compiled his best overall season in 2015 since 2011, albeit without the power. Slashing .294/.328/.395, with 12 home runs and 23 stolen bases, Phillips showed his versatility by hitting anywhere in the lineup. Fangraphs ranks Brandon Phillips as tied for the fifth best defensive second baseman for 2015 based on Defensive Runs Saved. His five runs saved were only second in the National League to the Marlins’ Dee Gordon, who saved thirteen runs. Since 2011, Phillips ranks third, behind Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia.

So why trade a player like Brandon Phillips after he just had such a productive season? First, he is not likely to be around the next time the Reds are in contention for a playoff spot. His next contract will begin with his age-36 season. The fact that Phillips posted the quality numbers he did in 2015 is likely largely due to the fact that he remained healthy the entire season. He suffered a thumb injury in 2014 and reported after the 2013 season that he was seeing a hand specialist. In other words, Brandon Phillips’ value is likely to only decline from this point. A trade is made even more difficult due to Phillips having ten-five rights. Because he has ten years of major league service time that includes five years with the same team, Phillips has to approve any trade he is involved in.

It was reported earlier this month that the Reds and the Arizona Diamondbacks had discussed a trade that would swap Phillips for second baseman Aaron Hill. While nothing has developed with that rumor, a new report was released tonight that linked Phillips to the Washington Nationals. On paper, a trade to the Nationals would seem to make more sense than one to the Diamondbacks, given Washington’s hiring of former Reds’ manager Dusty Baker. If the Reds can work out a trade and persuade Brandon Phillips to agree to it, I am all for it.

The Rise and Fall of Mat Latos

The San Diego Padres selected right-handed pitcher Mat Latos in the eleventh round of the 2006 draft. He ultimately did not sign with the team until almost a year later, days before the draft of 2007. Drafted after his senior year of high school, Latos had the talent of a first-round pick, but lacked the maturity. This led to a disagreement between the Padres and its newly drafted player over the signing bonus. The Florida resident ended up pitching a year for Broward Community College before finally agreeing to a $1.25 million deal.

Latos rose quickly through the Padres’ minor league system and made his major league debut in July 2009, just over two years after signing with the team. He was 21 years old at the time and had never pitched above the AA level. Latos’ results over his ten starts that season were less than spectacular; over 50.2 innings, he had a 4.62 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 39:23. Latos began the following season in the Padres’ rotation and turned things around, despite a terrible month of April during which he gave up 14 runs over 20.1 innings. He finished 2010 with an ERA of 2.92 and 189 strikeouts over 184.2 innings. The right-hander’s strikeout total, ERA, K:BB ratio (3.78), and WHIP (1.083) all remain career-bests for him. He ultimately finished eighth in voting for the National League Cy Young Award. Latos produced solid numbers again in 2011, albeit with an ERA of 3.47.

Mat Latos’ success throughout his first two full major league seasons did not go unnoticed by other teams. It was in December 2011 that the then 24-year-old starting pitcher was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in a blockbuster deal that sent starter Edinson Volquez and three prospects to San Diego. The Reds’ general manager, Walt Jocketty, was quoted as saying of Latos, ‘He’s definitely a top-of-the rotation guy who will slot in well behind Cueto and, in time, will develop into a No. 1 starter.’

Jocketty’s assessment of Latos quickly proved to be accurate. During his first two seasons with Cincinnati, Latos made a total of 65 regular season starts, pitching 420 innings to a 3.32 ERA and a 1.186 WHIP. For a pitcher who made his home starts in hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park, he only gave up 0.8 home runs per nine innings.

The right-hander’s two 2012 NLDS postseason outings brought mixed results. In game one against the Giants in San Francisco, scheduled starter Johnny Cueto lasted just a third of an inning before leaving the game due to back spasms. (He would not pitch again in the series, and was later put on the disabled list and replaced on the roster by pitcher Mike Leake.) Reliever Sam LeCure was brought in and pitched 1.2 scoreless innings. Mat Latos then entered during the third inning and allowed just one solo home run over the four innings he pitched. This excellent relief appearance by Latos not only saved the game for the Reds (they won 5-2), but also saved the bullpen from being overused during the series opener.

Latos’ second postseason appearance was just as memorable, but for the wrong reasons. Starting game five at home, the Reds were tied with the Giants in the series 2-2. The winner-moves-on, loser-goes-home game went smoothly through the first four innings for both teams’ starting pitchers, as Mat Latos and Matt Cain exchanged zeroes in the run column. Then the top of the fifth inning occurred and Latos’ outing rapidly unraveled. A single, triple, groundout, E6, walk, single, and Buster Posey grand slam later and the Reds were down 6-0. Latos’ day was over, and in just a matter of innings, so would be the Reds’ season. Long-time baseball writer Hal McCoy reflected on Mat Latos and his issues with immaturity in his newspaper column the following weekend, writing the following: “Latos is still a bit immature in that he lets things he cannot control bother him on the mound. Johnny Cueto used to be the same way, but he overcame it. Now Latos must grow up a bit and accept adversity and pitch around it. If you lose concentration pitching to Buster Posey, you are going to pay heavily — like giving up a grand slam at the worst time of the entire season.”

The end of the 2013 season is where Latos’ health issues began to arrive. Given number-one starter Johnny Cueto’s multiple trips to the disabled list throughout that season, the Reds had initially planned to start Mat Latos in the Wildcard Game against the Pirates. That plan changed when it was announced in the last days of September that Latos had bone chips in his elbow. He ended up having them removed in October via surgery. Then in mid-February at the start of Spring Training, Latos injured his knee while throwing. This resulted in a torn meniscus which required surgery as well. In April, it was announced that he had a flexor mass strain in his elbow. Mat Latos would not make his season debut until June 14. He would pitch well for the Reds the remainder of the season, posting numbers similar to those he delivered during his previous four seasons. Perhaps the most notable difference was the decline in his number of strikeouts per nine innings; 6.5 marked the lowest it had been in his career. Nevertheless, Latos had posted a 3.25 ERA over his sixteen starts. He was still seen as a potential ace and would soon be on the move again.

It was on the final day of the December 2014 Winter Meetings that a trade was announced that sent Mat Latos to the Miami Marlins in exchange for rookie starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani and a minor league catcher. It was reported after his trade from the Padres that Latos publicly criticized the Padres’ management, saying that they lied to him about his future with their organization. His pattern of bashing former teams would soon continue, as a February 2015 interview by reporter Ken Rosenthal would show. Rather than making remarks about management, this time Latos spoke about the state of the Reds’ clubhouse. Though no players were mentioned by name (though he did specifically mention “a closer”), he criticized a lack of leadership. It was with this interview that Latos had now burned bridges with both of his first two teams. His immaturity was still present.

The 2015 season was Latos’ final season before becoming a free agent. While with Cincinnati, many predicted that his next contract would easily be nine digits. That figure was soon erased as Latos struggled throughout the entire year. Perhaps there was no sign more indicative of how his season would go than his first start as a Marlin against the Braves. Playing at home in game two of the season, Latos gave up seven earned runs in just two-thirds of an inning. His ERA, which then sat at 94.50, would not go below five until May 10. That only lasted for one start; it would not return under five until July 5. He spent time on the 15-day disabled list for left knee inflammation for several weeks from late-May to mid-June. Latos was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of July in a multi-team blockbuster that also involved the Atlanta Braves. Overall, he posted a 4.48 ERA with the Marlins.

Things did not get any better back on the west coast for Latos. Over six games (five starts), he posted an ERA of 6.66 over 24.1 innings of work. After an early September start, Latos again continued his trend of making public criticisms against his team, this time against the manager for pulling him out of the game too soon. (A game in which Latos gave up eight hits and four runs over four innings.) He was designated for assignment on September 17 and released on September 25.

However, Mat Latos’ season was not yet over. On September 28, with just seven days remaining in the regular season, the Los Angeles Angeles became Latos’ fifth team of his career and third of the season. He was signed for the major league minimum- around $19,600 for one week- as the Dodgers were responsible for the rest of his salary. Latos was signed to improve a weakened bullpen in a push to win a postseason spot. He appeared in two games. In the first, he pitched two scoreless innings. In the second, he gave up two solo home runs over 1.2 innings. Latos’ final combined 2015 numbers resulted in a 4.95 ERA and a 1.307 WHIP, career worsts. He averaged more strikeouts per nine innings (7.7) than in 2014 (6.5), but these numbers are still below his averages from 2010-13.

Latos is now a free agent for the second time in his career (the first being the three days between Los Angeles teams at the end of September). Rather than signing a nine-figure contract, MLB Trade Rumors is predicting that he will sign a one-year deal to rebuild value. Given that he just turned 28 years old, he is still young enough to turn things around. If Latos can pitch at a level in 2016 like he did from 2010-14, and stay healthy, he should be able to sign a substantial contract next winter. Personally, I could see him receiving a payday similar to what Jeff Samardzija just signed with the Giants, something in the range of five years and $90 million.