9:52pm: The Reds announced the deal.
9:16pm: José Acuna and Hector Rodriguez are headed back to the Reds, Feinsand reports (Twitter link).
9:10pm: The Reds will receive two minor league players in return, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (on Twitter).
9:05pm: The Mets are acquiring outfielder Tyler Naquin in a deal with the Reds, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). He’ll come alongside minor league southpaw Phillip Diehlwhom Robert Murray of FanSided (on Twitter) previously reported was being acquired.
Naquin had been one of the most obvious trade candidates around the league. The 31-year-old is set to reach free agency at the end of the season, so there was little reason for the last-place Reds not to look to move him for future value. He’ll head to Queens as the second left-handed beats the Mets have added in as many weeks. New York picked up first baseman/designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach in a deal with the Pirates last Friday.
A former first-round pick of Cleveland, Naquin had an excellent rookie season back in 2016. His offensive productivity was up-and-down for the rest of his time there, but he’s settled in as a solid platoon bat over the past two years . Naquin signed a minor league deal with Cincinnati over the 2020-21 offseason, and he cracked the Opening Day roster last year. That paved for the way for a season and a half as a Red, in which he posted a .262/.324/.462 line through 655 plate appearances.
That overall offensive productivity is a hair above average, but Naquin has been quite good when holding the platoon advantage. He’s popped 23 homers in 542 plate appearances against right-handed pitching over the past couple seasons, compiling a .278/.338/.503 mark against righties. That power has translated outside of the Reds hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park, and the Mets figure to leverage him as a platoon player down the stretch.
The Mets have one of the game’s best outfields, with a trio of Mark Canha, Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte manning the grass. Canha and Marte will continue to pick up the lion’s share of playing time in the corners, but Naquin complements those veteran right-handed bats. He’ll also supplement a DH group that also includes Vogelbach and Dominic Smith from the left side, as well as the righty-swinging JD Davis.
Naquin’s acquisition seemingly increases the likelihood at least of Smith or Davis gets dealt before next Tuesday’s deadline. The Mets have been on the hunt for offensive help for weeks, largely due to dissatisfaction with Smith’s and Davis’ performance this season. Adding a pair of DH/bench bats to an already full outfield and with superstar Pete Alonso at first base further clutters that group. Each of Smith and Davis has minor league options remaining, and the Mets have already optioned Smith this year. That’s a possibility if the club simply wants to stockpile as much depth as possible, but it also stands to reason they’d be open to trade opportunities.
The Mets will seemingly add a few million dollars to the payroll, as there’s no indication cash considerations are changing hands. Naquin is playing this season on a $4.025MM salary, around $1.525MM of which is still to be paid. The Mets luxury tax figure is narrowly above the $290MM threshold, in the estimate of Jason Martinez of Roster Resource. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, a team that exceeds $290MM (the fourth and highest tier of CBT penalization) is taxed at an 80% rate for every dollar spent.
In addition to Naquin, the Mets add some non-roster bullpen depth. Diehl, who was outrighted off the Reds 40-man roster in May, won’t immediately occupy a spot on New York’s 40-man. He’s spent the bulk of the season with the Reds top affiliate in Louisville, working to a 4.24 ERA through 23 1/3 innings. The 27-year-old has an excellent 30.6% strikeout rate against a decent 8.2% walk percentage, although his fly-ball oriented approach has made him fairly home run prone.
New York’s left-handed relief depth is thin, with Joely Rodriguez and recent waiver claim Sam Clay the only two bullpen southpaws on the 40-man roster. Clay has been hit hard in four appearances with Triple-A Syracuse and has yet to appear in an MLB game as a Met. Rodríguez, acquired from the Yankees shortly beowns a 5.93 ERA across 27 1/3 innings on the year. He’s striking out batters and inducing grounders at a decent clip, but he’s also walked a massive 16.3% of batters faced. Left-handed relief helps figures to continue to be a target for the Mets over the next few days even with Diehl bolstering the organizational depth.
More to come.