Fake trade: James Shields to Cincinnati for Yonder Alonso

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(The following is not a done deal or even a valid rumor and should not be treated as such.)

Reds acquire RHP James Shields and RHP Kyle Farnsworth from the Rays for first baseman Yonder Alonso and catcher Yasmani Grandal.

Courtesy of Yahoo’s Tim Brown comes the rumor that the Reds have started shopping top prospect Yonder Alonso in their hunt for a closer or a No. 2 starter. He lists Tampa Bay as one of the teams that GM Walt Jocketty has talked to.

The Rays have six major league starters. Neither Wade Davis nor Jeff Niemann is worth Alonso alone, while Matt Moore, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and Shields all appear to be too valuable to trade straight up for Alonso. That’s where Grandal comes in. The 2010 first-round pick is one of the game’s top five catching prospects, but he has an even better young catcher ahead of him in Devin Mesoraco. The Reds still aren’t going to be in any hurry to give him up, but it would make some sense to part with both of their blocked youngsters for a big-time starter like Shields.

Why it works for the Rays: Moore could very well turn into one of the AL’s best starters next year, giving Tampa Bay one of the game’s top rotations even without Shields in the fold. Alonso immediately steps into the vacancy at first base left by Casey Kotchman’s departure. He probably won’t turn into an All-Star at such a loaded position, but he shouldn’t be too far off with his strong bat. Grandal isn’t quite ready yet, but he’ll likely be ready to overtake John Jaso in 2013.

I have the Rays giving up Farnsworth, too. While he was an excellent closer last season, it’s hardly a given that he’ll keep it up and the Rays should be able to replace him easily in a deep relief market.

Why it works for the Reds: It’s painful giving up 12 years of Alonso and Grandal for three of Shields and one of Farnsworth, but they don’t have a lot of use for either youngster right now and it’d be quite a blow to trade one of the game’s best players in Votto to make room for Alonso. The trade certainly has the potential to make the Reds a whole lot better if Shields and Farnsworth come close to duplicating their 2011 success. Also, the money isn’t bad at all. The Reds would get their ace and their closer for a combined $10.8 million in 2012, which should still leave them with some financial flexibility going forward. Shields’ contract is also reasonable beyond that: there are team options worth $9 million-$10 million for 2013 and $12 million-$14 million in 2014.

Why it won’t happen: One factor the Reds would have to be awfully nervous about: while Shields and Farnsworth combined for a 2.70 ERA in 307 innings last season, they came in at 4.74 in 268 innings during 2010. The Reds might want to hold out for Shields for Alonso straight up.

Betts: Baseball didn’t do good job with response to Floyd

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Mookie Betts wasn’t moved by Major League Baseball’s response in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody, and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ newest star has a goal of getting the Black community to love baseball as much as he does.

MLB released a statement nine days after the death of Floyd, the Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes on May 25. MLB was the last of the major pro sports leagues that either responded to Floyd’s death or condemned racism.

“I think baseball did not do a good job with that, but voices were heard,” Betts said Monday on a video conference call with reporters. “That’s the main thing, that we get our voices heard to make some changes. I know it’s not all going to be at one time, but a little change here, a change there, we’ll eventually get to where we need to be.”

Betts said his goal of bringing baseball into Black communities is “more of a personal thing.”

The percentage of Blacks in big league baseball remains low and some think the sport has an image problem because it’s too boring.

Betts, the 2018 AL Most Valuable Player with Boston, is one of the game’s biggest stars, but his national profile lags behind that of other sports stars who juggle multiple high-profile endorsements.

“Obviously, MLB can help,” Betts said, “but I think it’s on us, as in the Black players, and kind of make baseball cool because I think that’s where the disconnect is. Us, as Black people, don’t think it’s that much fun so we have to find a way to make it fun for the Black community and get more guys here.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the team held a video conference call to discuss issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and social injustice.

“Guys asked questions, guys gave thoughts and opinions, and it was very well received,” said Roberts, the son of a Japanese mother and Black father. “I just don’t want us to lose the traction, the momentum, the conversations that we’ve had over the last month. That’s something that any person of color I think would agree with me, that it just can’t be a footnote.”

Roberts said he’d like to see more Blacks hired throughout baseball.

“To have people that look like you around you, sharing space, having those conversations daily certainly will move the needle ahead,” he said. “That’s my goal.”

NOTES: The Dodgers added right-handers A.J. Ramos and Clayton Beeter to their 60-man player pool. Ramos missed last season and part of 2018 due to labrum surgery. Before getting hurt in 2018, the 33-year-old was 2-2 with a 6.41 ERA and 22 strikeouts for the Mets. Beeter was taken 66th overall in this year’s amateur draft. The 21-year-old out of Texas Tech made four college starts this season, allowing five runs over 21 innings with 33 strikeouts and four walks.

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