July 13, 2006


Nationals acquire Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez and Ryan Wagner as part of eight-player deal with Cincinnati (MLB, 07/13/2006)

The Washington Nationals today acquired outfielder Austin Kearns, shortstop Felipe Lopez and right-handed pitcher Ryan Wagner from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for right-handed pitcher Gary Majewski, left-handed pitcher Bill Bray, infielder Brendan Harris, shortstop Royce Clayton and right-handed pitcher Daryl Thompson. Nationals Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden made the announcement.

Kearns, Lopez and Wagner are former first-round selections-none of whom is older than 26 years-old. [...]

Lopez, 26, was batting .268 with 14 doubles, nine home runs, 30 RBI and a career-high 23 stolen bases in 85 games for the Reds at the time of the trade. Lopez is currently on pace to establish career highs in walks, stolen bases and runs scored. Currently tied for fourth in the NL in stolen bases, Lopez's 47 walks pace all NL shortstops, and his nine home runs are tied for 2nd among NL shortstops behind only Khalil Greene (12).

A career .259 hitter (477-for-1843) with 93 doubles, 17 triples, 54 home runs, 216 RBI and 56 stolen bases in 505 career games, Lopez is coming off his finest offensive season. Last season, at the age of 25, Lopez hit .291 with 34 doubles, five triples, 23 home runs, 85 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 148 games. For his efforts, Lopez earned his first Silver Slugger award, given annually to the league's top offensive shortstop. He also earned a spot on his first NL All-Star team.

Majewski and Bray are serviceable enough middle relievers and conceivable closers, but all of those Nationals together aren't worth either Lopez or Kearns.

Reds pay steep price to improve bullpen (Ken Rosenthal, 7/13/06, FOXSports.com)

"We paid a steep price, there's no question," Krivsky told FOXSports.com. "It speaks to how hard it is to get quality relief pitching in this market. You've got to give up good players."

Krivsky certainly did that; Kearns and Lopez are both 26, while reliever Ryan Wagner, the third player sent to the Nationals, is 24. [...]

Upon learning of the deal, one rival general manager was dumbfounded.

"On the surface, the Nationals made a great trade," the GM said.

The GM went on to explain, "Relief pitchers are risky. Their performance is risky. One year, they're great; the next year, they're mediocre. They're the hardest players to evaluate. Position players are the easiest. And the Nationals got two premium position players in their 20s."

Kearns is enjoying a long-awaited breakout season, batting .274 with 16 homers and 50 RBIs. Lopez was an All-Star last season, though his offense has dipped this season and Clayton is a better defender at shortstop.

Krivsky said that the right-handed Majewski, 26, and left-handed Bray, 23, will be setup men along with righty Todd Coffey for closer Eddie Guardado, whom Krivsky acquired from the Mariners last week. Majewski is in his second season. Bray, the Nationals' first-round pick in the 2004 draft, is a rookie.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 13, 2006 4:00 PM

Bowden was famous for making one-sided trades like this when he was in Cincinnati. He was particularly effective in getting value out of throw-ins so don't be surprised if Ryan Wagner turns out to be effective as well.

Posted by: jeff at July 13, 2006 4:35 PM

It does look puzzling, doesn't it? Lopez is a better shortstop than Clayton, Wagner is at least as good a pitching prospect as Bray, Kearns as a serviceable major league outfielder is more valuable than Majewski as a serviceable middle reliever, and the other two guys are scrubs - Harris rarely gets on the field and Thompson is a C prospect who hasn't played this year due to injuries.

Looks like this is clearing the decks for a Soriano trade, eh?

Posted by: pj at July 13, 2006 4:55 PM

The Reds need relievers. The bullpen is killing them. Brandon Phillips will move from second to short. Sorry to see Kearns go but Freel can fill in in about every spot except 1 and 2. I imagine he will see more right field play. Probably some play at second also.

Posted by: Pilgrim at July 13, 2006 5:47 PM

Soriano wants to stay and this starts making them good enough next year for it to be worth keeping him. Lopez, Nick Johnson, Zimmerman, Soriano, Kearns is a decent nucleus. If they can trade Guillen and Hernandez for a Centerfielder they've got a nice lineup.

Posted by: oj at July 13, 2006 5:49 PM

Wagner seems uncoachable and guys on the team disliked him.

Posted by: oj at July 13, 2006 5:51 PM

Lopez is a pretty bad fielder, but is Philips a defensive upgrade? Freel is hurt, isn't he, and a very limited guy. Nice to see what Denorfia can do and maybe promote Jay Bruce aggressively enough to see if he can be ready by the end of '07.

I like Majewski but he's had arm problems too.

Just hard to believe two middle relievers is the best you can get for either Lopez or Kearns. You'd think the Red Sox would have offered more.

Posted by: oj at July 13, 2006 6:11 PM