Reds deepen staff with two trades

Reds deepen staff with two trades

CINCINNATI -- First-year Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky has been one of baseball's busiest wheelers and dealers all season.

So you just knew Monday's trade deadline would not come and go without playoff-contending Cincinnati making more alterations.

Hoping to bolster the bullpen, Krivsky swung two separate deals on Monday morning. Pitcher Kyle Lohse was acquired from the Twins for Minor League pitcher Zach Ward shortly after veteran reliever Rheal Cormier came over from the Phillies in exchange for pitcher Justin Germano.

Leaders of the National League Wild Card race, the Reds were looking to better position themselves for the season's final two months. Cincinnati was also in second place, 3 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central standings.

It wasn't clear how many other would-be deals Krivsky sought to make before the non-waivers trade deadline expired at 4 p.m. ET. In recent days, it was speculated that the Reds might add another starting pitcher and some bench help.

"I'm happy with the guys we got," Krivsky said. "If we didn't make a deal for someone else, either we weren't interested or the price wasn't right."

Lohse has historically been a starter but the Reds' immediate plan was to use him out of the bullpen.

"He's pitched much better out of the 'pen this year," Krivsky said. "I talked to him earlier today. He understands the situation. His job is to just get people out when [Reds manager Jerry Narron] calls him in."

In 22 games this season, including eight starts, Lohse was 2-5 with a 7.07 ERA for Minnesota. He has a lifetime 51-57 record and 4.88 ERA. The 27-year-old was accepting of his role on a new club, but made clear his preference to start.

"If that's the role they see me in, that's fine," Lohse said. "We'll go with it. Ultimately, I'm not going to make a big fuss about it. I'd like to start again. That's where I see me fitting in. But I'm not going to demand anything of course. I'm going to try and fit in and help the team win."

If a change of scenery can help anyone, a new zip code should definitely be to Lohse's benefit. The right-hander was a promising pitching prospect when he was called up to the Twins in 2001. Lohse won 13 games in 2002 and had 14 wins in 2003.

"It really looked like he was going to turn a corner and be one of the better pitchers in the American League," said Narron, who saw Lohse as a manager and coach in the AL. "The arm is there to do it. I know a lot of people in baseball like him."

Lohse dropped to 9-13 with a 5.37 ERA in 2004 and 9-13 record with a 4.18 ERA in 2005. In an infamous moment late last season, he injured a finger on his pitching hand during a clubhouse blowup after being removed early from a poor start. The incident included the usually mild-mannered pitcher damaging Twins manager Ron Gardenhire's office door with a bat.

With an 8.92 ERA as a starter this season, Lohse was often at odds with Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson and was demoted to Triple-A in May. Even though the Twins had rotation depth issues at times this season, the club refused to use Lohse as a starter again after it brought him back up in June.

"I just wanted to help the team out the best that I could," Lohse said. "Here in Minnesota, I thought it would be better served to be in the starting rotation, but the powers that be decided that wasn't the place for me. I know I got off to a rough start, but things kind of worked out on a downward turn. I'm looking forward to moving on."

Lohse is the latest former Twin to join the Reds along, with Eric Milton, Eddie Guardado and Juan Castro. Pitcher Joe Mays was designated for assignment this month in an acquisition that backfired. Krivsky was a former assistant GM to Terry Ryan in Minnesota and this is the second trade they've swung this year.

"Lohse is coming here knowing a lot of guys [from the Twins], he's going to have a comfort zone," Krivsky said. "So, I got to think that's going to put him at ease right away."

If the new beginning benefits Lohse, he, too, could benefit the Reds. He has a four-pitch repertoire, including a low-to-mid-90s fastball, and three seasons of postseason experience. He could end up starting a game on Saturday, depending on how Brandon Claussen's rehab outing with Triple-A Louisville goes Monday night.

"Lohse is a guy that can start for us, pitch long for us, maybe even pitch one inning," Narron said. "It's big for us to have an experienced guy that's pitched down the stretch with a team that's been contending."

Since he's third-year arbitration eligible, the Reds can hold the rights to Lohse for next season. A two-time arbitration hearing winner making $3.95 million this season, he won both cases against Krivsky -- then Minnesota's main negotiator.

A 15-season big-league veteran, Cormier was 2-2 in 43 appearances with the Phillies this year and had a 1.59 ERA that led all National League relievers.

"We don't have to just use him against one left-hander then get him out of there," Narron said. "It's big to be able to use that guy against right-handers and left-handers."

A 10-5 player (at least 10 years experience, the last five with one club), Cormier had the right to refuse the trade. After negotiating Sunday night, he waived his no-trade provision and signed a one-year contract extension for 2007, with a club option for 2008. Terms were not revealed but Cormier is making $2.5 million this season.

"I'm coming to a team that's in the middle of it," Cormier said. "Hopefully, I'm just a piece of the puzzle that will help them get there."

Besides his time Philadelphia from 2001-06, Cormier pitched for St. Louis, Boston and Montreal. But this has been one of the best seasons of the 39-year-old's career.

"I'm throwing the same stuff out there," Cormier said. "I haven't made any adjustments. I changed a couple of things with mechanics over the winter and it seems I've been having a little bit more success. Most of the time, you make your own luck. I go to the mound and try to keep the ball down and get ground balls and it's worked for me."

To make room for Cormier on the roster, the Reds optioned outfielder Brandon Watson to Triple-A Louisville. A move to make room for Lohse will be announced Tuesday.

Monday's additions were the latest in Krivsky's near-complete overhaul of the Reds' bullpen. Guardado was acquired from Seattle on July 6 and made the closer. An eight-player deal brought relievers Bill Bray and Gary Majewski, shortstop Royce Clayton and two prospects from Washington on July 13 for Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez and Ryan Wagner.

So far, those trades have had mixed results. Guardado, once deposed as the Mariners' closer, has been rejuvenated and is 6-for-6 in save chances for Cincinnati. Bray has had mostly good outings while Majewski has struggled. The bullpen has been boosted overall. It has a 3.50 ERA since the All-Star break after it was 4.60 in the first half.

"I feel real good about it," Narron said. "I would've loved to have had this bullpen at the start of the season."

Going to Minnesota, Ward was the Reds' 13th-best prospect according to Baseball America. The 22-year-old, Cincinnati's 2005 third-round draft pick, was 7-0 with a 2.29 ERA in 20 games with Class A Dayton. Germano, who lost a spot start for the Reds on Saturday at Milwaukee, was 8-6 with a 3.69 ERA in 19 games for Triple-A Louisville.

The Reds took on payroll in making the trades. Krivsky praised CEO Bob Castellini and the club ownership.

"They stepped up," Krivsky said. "They're putting a stamp on some of the statements they made when they took over the club that if this club is in contention, they would ante up. And by these two acquisitions, they definitely have."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.