There have been numerous reports that the Cincinnati Reds are interested in acquiring recently DFA'd third baseman Bill Hall.
When the Brewers designated Bill for assignment last Wednesday, I thought they were going to have to eat the remainder of his salary. I guess I never thought that we could actually get someone to take his contract, let alone get somebody decent in return.
Reports are that the Reds are considering parting with either Bronson Arroyo, or Aaron Harang, in order to acquire Hall. Both Harang and Arroyo have already cleared waivers, so a trade involving either of them would work.
Both Arroyo and Harang's contracts are up in 2010, although both have options that come with expensive buyouts. Arroyo is on the hook for $11 million next season and Harang is due $12.5 million. Arroyo's 2011 team option is for $11 million, with a $2 million buyout, although that option could increase to $13 million based on his innings pitched. Harang's option is for $12.75, but immediately jumps to $14 million if he is traded. Harang's option also becomes mutual if he is traded, and it comes with a $2.5 million buyout.
The Brewers are on the hook right now for Bill Hall's 2009 contract ($8.4 million) and his 2010 buyout ($.5 million). That means that the Brewers will have to fork out a total of $8.9 million to Hall in 2009 even though he won't be playing for them.
So what would a trade for either Harang or Arroyo mean?
The more attractive of the two pitchers is Harang. He has a K/BB ratio this season that is 3.5/1. Although his last two years in Cincinnati have been disappointing, he has been an unlucky pitcher. His BABIP is second to worst in MLB (only trails Manny Parra). He also suffers from the Great American Ballpark's small design. Before those two bad seasons, Harang posted three consecquetive seasons with ERA's in the threes. In two of those seasons, he struck out over 200 batters.
A trade straight up for Hall would put the Brewers on the hook for an additional $1 million this season and another $6.1 million next season. A pitcher of Harang's quality is clearly worth a one year deal at $6 million. Keep in mind that the Brewers signed Braden Looper to a one year/$6 million deal last offseason. Something tells me that Harang would pitch a lot better than Looper has this season.
The other option would be Bronson Arroyo. This seems a little more likely for the Reds to do. After three solid seasons in Cincinnati, Arroyo's strikeouts have considerably declined this season. During the three years prior, Arroyo averaged 7 K/9. This season, although his walks have remained low (3.1 BB/9), his strikeouts have fallen to just 5 K/9. Arroyo would look just as attractive to the Brewers as Harang had his strikeouts not completely fallen off this season. He still is a solid pitcher that pitches in a very hitter friendly park.
Arroyo was recently in the news when he predicted that his name would be on a steroid list in the future. He took an enhancer that was not illegal, although Arroyo thinks that it may have been tainted with steroids. He has since stopped using the drug.
An Arroyo-Hall trade would put the Brewers again on the hook for an additional $1 million this season. In 2010, again assuming both options are declined, the Brewers would have an addition $2.1 million next season, or $4.1 if he reaches he innings pitched bonus. Again a contract that small seems like quite the bargain for Arroyo.
A trade straight up for either of these players seems like it would be a dream for the Brewers. I honestly figured the Brewers wouldn't get any return on Hall, let alone some solid starting pitching. Harang,or Arroyo, would instantly be plugged in the two spot, behind Yovani Gallardo, in the Brewers rotation. They would pitch for next season and would greatly help cure the 2009 pitching woes.
Sure Bill Hall has killed the Reds in the past, but he is not the same hitter he was a couple of years ago. It is unwise to acquire a player based solely on performance against your team. The Brewers signed Jeff Suppan and cited his success in Miller Park as a reason. I think they would like to have that one back.
I don't know what the Reds are thinking in this trade. Although a little pricey, Arroyo and Harang's contracts are not that bad. It seems odd that they couldn't find value for trading these two. It is important to note that Walt Jocketty did just acquire Scott Rolen to play third base. I don't know where Hall would play, but you can't put this trade past Jocketty. Like the Rolen trade, this seems to make no sense. Hopefully Doug Melvin is able to swing a deal before Jocketty is able to realize it.