Dick Williams has focused one eye on the present and another on the future of the Cincinnati Reds.
That has made the trade deadline a challenging time for the Reds’ president of baseball operations, but he made a move late Monday night that will give the Reds an easier time next spring when they have to choose three starting outfielders.
The trade of outfielder Adam Duvall to the Atlanta Braves for right-handed pitchers Lucas Sims and Matt Wisler and outfielder Preston Tucker paves the way for the Reds to start Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker in the corner outfield positions in 2019.
Duvall, Schebler and Winker, who’s out for the season with a shoulder injury, played in a rotation with center fielder Billy Hamilton most of this season.
“When we looked at next year, we saw Winker and Schebler really emerging as corner outfielders who are going to have a lot of success in the major leagues,” Williams said. “This year, we’ve been rotating everybody pretty evenly out there and getting them playing time. It was working, but we were seeing Winker and Schebler really establish themselves as corner guys, and when we look at the projections on salaries in the offseason and everything in the arbitration process, it began to make us think about how we’re going to allocate our resources moving forward.
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“We see this as a club that is competing with some of the best teams right now, and we recognize there are some shortcomings that need to be addressed. We want to make as many resources available to address those needs next year. This, in a sense, freed up some money to invest in other parts of the team. It also brought us back three players that have a chance to help us.”
The Reds acquired Duvall, 29, on July 30, 2015, in a trade that sent Mike Leake to the San Francisco Giants. Duvall signed a one-year deal for $645,000 for this season and will be arbitration eligible next season. In four seasons with the Reds, he hit .235 with 84 home runs and was an all-star in 2016. This year, he was hitting .205 with 15 home runs and 61 RBIs.
Tucker, 28, was scheduled to join the Reds on Tuesday in Detroit as they started a two-game series against the Tigers. He was a seventh-round pick by the Houston Astros in 2012. He hit .256 in 62 games with the Braves this season and also appeared in 15 games for Triple-A Gwinnett.
Sims, 24, and Wisler, 25, will be assigned to a roster Wednesday when they are expected to report.
The 21st overall pick in the first round in 2012, Sims was Atlanta’s 18th-ranked prospect in 2017, according to MLB.com, but did not make the top 30 this year.
Sims made his big-league debut in 2016 and was 3-6 with a 5.62 ERA in 14 appearances and 10 starts. He was 4-3 with a 2.84 ERA in 14 starts this season at Triple-A and had a 7.84 ERA in six appearances with the Braves.
Wisler is from Bryan, Ohio. The San Diego Padres drafted him in the seventh round in 2011. He made his big-league debut with the Braves in 2015. This year, he was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in seven games.
At 48-58, the Reds are 13½ games back in the National League Central Division, but their record since June 10 (26-15) is one of the best in baseball.
“The team has been playing very well,” Williams said. “We’re pleased with the performance we’ve seen in the middle of the summer. We have been trying to keep an eye on next year, but also this year is important. The winning vibe and winning culture that have been present recently is something we’ve been looking for a while. We’re pleased to have found it. We don’t want to do anything to disrupt it. At the same time, it’s very important to continue to have a focus on the future, so we’re trying to do the best of both worlds: keep a winning team in a good place but at the same time keep looking down the road and begin to plan for the future.”