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Acquired LHP Dan Jennings from the Marlins in exchange for RHP Andre Rienzo. [12/11]

You might remember Jennings as the other Marlin struck in the head with a baseball late in the year. Unlike Giancarlo Stanton, Jennings returned to action before the season ended and, by doing so, ensured that he wouldn't finish with a sub-1 ERA. If he makes the White Sox roster, he ought to serve as the club's second lefty, behind Zach Duke. Consider that a good thing, because Jennings fits the role. A fastball-slider pitcher with a closed landing, Jennings has somehow posted reverse splits over his first 100 big-league innings. There's no obvious reason to expect that trend to continue, so don't be alarmed if Robin Ventura asks Jennings to face more lefties than righties.—R.J. Anderson

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Acquired RHP Alfredo Simon from the Reds in exchange for INF-R Eugenio Suarez and RHP Jonathon Crawford. [12/11]

Like with the Shane Greene trade, Simon's acquisition is a test of faith for the Tigers; in short, is he as good as they think he is based on a limited sample?

Simon, 34 come May and a free agent come winter, returned to the rotation last season for the first time since 2011. Unlike in his previous tries with the Orioles, Simon found success in starting with the Reds, as he tossed 196 innings, posted a 3.44 ERA and 2.27 strikeout-to-walk rate, and earned a spot on the NL All-Star team. But because of his past and his shaky second half, it's unclear just how genuine his gains were.

This is where the faith comes into play. An optimist looks at Simon and sees a downmarket version of Rick Porcello; a pessimist sees a guy who, despite a nice, flukey run in the rotation, ought to return to the bullpen where he can eat meaningless innings. Lastly there's the Tigers, who probably fall in line closer to the optimist's perspective. In Dave Dombrowski's estimation, Simon almost surely has the body, power arsenal, and ground-ball-generating ways to fit in at the back of a rotation.

If Dombrowski and the optimists are correct, then the Tigers did get a different, older interpretation of Porcello. That might not be ideal—not when it means losing two youngsters—but it does mean the Tigers shouldn't be much worse for '15. —R.J. Anderson

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Acquired INF-R Eugenio Suarez and RHP Jonathon Crawford from the Tigers in exchange for RHP Alfredo Simon. [12/11]

The Reds trimmed more payroll by moving Simon, who would've received a raise on his $1.5 million salary from last season. In exchange, they received two young potential contributors.

You've seen Suarez before. He's the 23-year-old the Tigers used in a timeshare at shortstop with Andrew Romine last season. That's not the best way to sell a player as valuable, but the truth is Suarez should have a career in reserve thanks to a strong arm and competent defense on the left side. The outlook isn't as rosy offensively, and he struck out far too often for a player with modest power potential. Still, Suarez could probably do a decent Zack Cozart impression if the Reds asked. And if they don't, he should be a useful bench player for years to come. —R.J. Anderson

Crawford was selected in the first round by the Tigers in 2013 as a junior, after an impressive sophomore season pushed him up draft boards. As a sophomore, he was routinely 94-97 miles-per-hour, touching 98 with the fastball and a sharp, vertical slider. The velocity dropped slightly in his junior campaign, and his changeup did not take the step forward scouts had hoped for.

Shorter than his listed 6-foot-2, Crawford's stature and lack of a changeup might relegate him to the bullpen. He has stiff, deliberate mechanics, which haven't allowed the command profile to come to fruition, as Crawford is relatively athletic. Moreover, in his first full-season stint with Low-A West Michigan, his stuff continued to take a step back. The fastball velocity settled to 90-93, touching 94 mph, with some arm-side run. His slider is sharp in the mid-80s, but the changeup borders on unusable. For a first round pick and 23-year-old SEC product, the numbers were not impressive at the Low-A level. His strikeout to walk ratio was about 1.5, and looking deeper into the game logs, there was a two-month, 48-inning stretch in which he whiffed 19 batters.

In all, Crawford needs to take big strides forward in command while bringing along the changeup in order to stay out of the bullpen. —Jordan Gorosh

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Acquired RHP Mat Latos from Cincinnati Reds in exchange for RHP Anthony DeSclafani and C-R Chad Wallach [12/11]
Acquired RHP Andre Rienzo from Chicago White Sox in exchange for LHP Dan Jennings [12/11]

It’s not in the same league as say, the Matt Kemp deal, but few trades this offseason hinge on the questionable health of the central component more than the Marlins’ acquisition of Mat Latos.

So first some good news if you’re a fan of the Fishes.

Wait, I thought you said good news.

I did. As far as five-year veterans on the mound go, this is not a horrific injury history, which is generally the best sign of a not horrific injury future. And within the category of injuries, most of these are the kind you would want to have. A lot of them are either bumps and bruises or non-recurring injuries to non-scary parts of the body. The shoulder never came up after the minors. The elbow was never an issue until 2013. And while it became an issue a lot after that, there are even degrees of elbow injuries, and these didn’t appear all that scary. You’ll take surgery for bone spurs better than you’ll take a lot of other ones.

He pitched okay last year after the late start and before the elbow led to a premature end. He was never lit up, lasted at least five innings in every start and was hardly the reason for the Reds’ struggles.

But in a year, he went from a model of perfect health even through the bumps and bruises—he had 31+ starts every year from 2010-2013—to the question mark he is today.

His velocity was down. Way down. From 93.9 mph on his four-seamer in 2013 to 91.8 in 2014. He started throwing his slider—the pitch that launched a Wall Street Journal feature just a year before—much less. He replaced a lot of its usage with a splitter, which became his go-to pitch to right-handers when looking for a strikeout.

His strikeout rate, already dropping in the healthy years for San Diego and then Cincinnati, plummeted. From 9.2, 8.6, 8.0, 8.0 per 9 to 6.5 in 2014.

And then there’s the most distressing fact of all if you’re using the “when healthy” performance: In a market where second-tier spenders are willing to get creative to bring in starting pitching that they don’t have to pay nine figures for, the Reds were willing to give up his final year at $7.25 million (and the option to give a qualifying offer if he has a 2010-13 Mat Latos season) for a rather uninspiring package. That’s a data point in itself.

Surgery for bone chips removal followed by a flexor mass strain followed by a bone bruise might not be Tommy John surgery, but to the team that knew him best, that might have been enough damage to Latos’ moneymaker to think past performance is just the past.

His arrival on the Miami roster created somewhat of a full house in the Miami rotation, but not at the expense of anything where even a small bounceback from 2014 for Latos wouldn’t be an improvement. He’ll join Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi, Jarred Cosart and some combination of Brad Hand, Tom Koehler and Dan Haren’s ghost, with that position to be replaced by Jose Fernandez when he gets the green light.

With the acquisition of Andre Rienzo from the White Sox for Dan Jennings, it turned into a little bit more of a traffic jam. There will be depth if Fernandez takes longer than expected, Latos is a no-go or a host of other things that can quickly knock an eight-man unit down a few mans. They could also trade one of the spot 5-6-7-8 candidates if the value of just getting a starter to eat innings rises thanks to some spring training injuries on a bad team.

It’s hard to picture Rienzo being much more than just depth on this team, either. He’s shown nothing in two stints with the White Sox, with bad home run and walk rates and, perhaps worse, improvement in neither of those categories even as he started throwing more of his cutter. They gave up a pretty decent lefty reliever with his own walk problems, but it’s hard to see the logic in even giving up that. Either they value the starting pitching depth that much on a team that already has it, or somebody found something fixable that the White Sox missed.

Either way, the Marlins rotation should be in pretty good shape for 2014. They should improve from finishing 12th in the National League in ERA. While much of the back end is pretty interchangeable, a good and healthy Latos is a big upgrade over that group, and has the potential to attract a good haul at the deadline if they’re out of contention. A bad Latos didn’t cost them that much.

DeSclafani probably wouldn’t have cracked this rotation and may do so on the Reds, who are now without Latos and Alfredo Simon, with Mike Leake rumored to be expendable as well. He wasn’t nearly as bad as his 6.27 ERA last year would have you think, but there isn’t much to get excited about there. If the Reds do piece together a starting rotation again, he may find success in the bullpen at some point in what still should be six more full years of team control. —Zachary Levine

Salary and pitch data from Cot’s MLB Contracts and Brooks Baseball, respectively.

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Latos has to gain two fantasy ^^ for this move to the cavernous Marlin's park, and I think he is a Floridian too, is he not ?
He was born in Virginia, but went to high school in Broward County, FL, and then Broward College (JuCo) before the Padres signed him as a draft-and-follow.
Initially, the Simon for Suarez & Crawford trade depressed me. Detroit gave up their best trading chips for that!? Then, I read about the Cespedes/Porcello trade and realized they desparately needed another starter. Now, I'm in the optimist camp. I'm hoping Simon's second half return to pumpkin was because he is not used to pitching 190 innings. I'm hoping he'll be better adapted this year, IF his health holds out - for one more year.

I remain depressed about this trade. They did need another pitcher but not this one. At his age, that return to pumpkin second half is far more likely age and return to talent level than any real development. Now to be fair Jeff Jones is a master at turning starting pitchers around (Scherzer, Fister, Porcello and Sanchez all exceeded their previous expectations under his tutelage) but this is the oldest and least talented pitcher he's been asked to work his magic. Porcello, on the other hand, is a young player rushed to the major leagues early just now overcoming that handicap and reaching his potential, HIS second have slump is attributable to fatigue, and easily reversed. Porcello is a top half of the rotation starter forced to the back half by three CY-young winners, and a fourth who could have had one if he had been healthy, whereas Simon is a long reliever who needed a short term hot streak to look like a back end starter. They would have been better off taking a flier on Masterson, who has ace history that Jones could help him recover, or going with the in house options.

While I hate this failed attempt to plug the hole, I don't hate the deal that made the hole, as it solves the lineup and outfield problem. It even makes the previous deal I did hate more palatable because a Gose/Davis platoon in CF is less of an automatic out that Gose everyday and it's more palatable with a great hitter on the other corner instead of relying on AAAA player Tyler Collins or future bust Stephen Moya. Plugging that hole was a victory, though I am worried about the corresponding hole in the lineup might make that victory pyrrhic, and the Simon deal does nothing to make that hole any better.
Am I the only one that thinks the Reds got a better return for Simon than Latos?

DeSclafani sounds more like a middle-relief guy and Wallach is a catcher with bloodlines (who wasn't rated particularly high in their farm system). It sounds more like the kind of return the Dodgers should have gotten for Dee Gordon instead of what the Reds got for Latos.

As a Reds' fan, I can't say that I am particularly giddy about what they got in return in these two deals. Yes, I know they got some salary relief here; but using that extra cash for an expensive extension for Cueto doesn't particularly excite me either given his injury history. This is a team with multiple holes to fill and none have been filled yet (although Suarez might help at SS - he can't possibly be worse than Cozart was last year).

This isn't quite as strange as the moves the A's have made this offseason...but still, I'm not exactly enamored with the direction this team is heading in.
funny you should say that (haul from Simon better than Latos), because on the Tiger rumor boards, between the time after the rumor of a pitcher coming from the Reds and the time he was named, there was a lot of hope that it would be Cueto, or "at least Latos" or "anybody but Simon". I agree Cueto was an irrational hope, but I would have been very happy with Latos. That said, I understand an underachieving first round pitcher and a future utility player wasn't likely to get anything more than what we got.
Sounds like neither side (from a Fans' perspective) is too thrilled. I vote both Cincy and Detroit fans protest the deal and make them reverse it :)
The return for Latos is a complete head scratcher to me too. They gave up a guy with a career FIP better than either Jon Lester or James Shields for a bullpen prospect and a non-prospect. Unless his elbow issue is worse than we're lead to believe (a real possibility), this is just a straight salary dump.
It does appear like a salary dump, but it's also possible the reds don't care about FIP. It's pretty clear the Tigers don't either.
Reds fans are happy about the Simon trade for many reasons. One, they had nothing invested in him as a waiver wire pick up. Two, he's 34 and will be lucky to be a 4/5 starter for Detroit. Three, Reds fans are happy to have *anyone* potentially unseat the offensively inoffensive Zack Cozart at SS, who must have incriminating photos of Walt Jocketty. And four, that ugly story from last spring was....ugly.

The Latos return was very underwhelming, although Keith Law and Lindbergh both floated the bad makeup rumor out there. (That's the first I've heard of it.) More importantly, perhaps his elbow is not intact as the Reds desired. He pitched fine last year, but his velocity was around 90 on fastballs in his last few starts. Seems like the Reds got a middle reliever and backup catcher/future DH for Latos, so still disappointing.