CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 28: Yonder Alonso #23 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a game-tying home run during the game against the Washington Nationals on August 28, 2011 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds defeated the Nationals 5-4 in 14 innings. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
The Rays are the logical trade suitor for one of the hottest hitting prospects in baseball.
I understand what your first reaction might be: who is Yonder Alonso?
Yonder Alonso is the Reds second coming of 2010 MVP Joey Votto. He's among the best hitting prospects in all of major league baseball and swung to the tune of .330/.398/.545 in 98 plate appearances with the Reds at the end of last season. Considering the Rays have almost no depth at first base, Alonso is a hot commodity.
To add fuel to the fire: Alonso is only 24 and has one year left on his $4.5 mil rookie contract before three years of arbitration - potentially keeping him with his team until 2018. Votto has two years left on his 3 year, $38 mil contract and at age 28 has already reached his prime. Advantage Alonso.
The Reds are in need of pitching, and the Rays have about 7 or 8 major league pitchers on the 40-man roster. Tampa Bay is likely to trade at least one this off season, so they are ready to meet Cincinnati's needs. And the spark to this powder keg? According to Yahoo's Tim Brown, Alonso is available if Cincinnati can land a No. 2 starter, naming Tampa Bay, Oakland, Toronto and Cleveland as suitors.
The Reds are likely demanding James Shields from Tampa Bay, but the Rays would be more likely to trade Wade David or Jeff Niemann and want to hold on to their ace. Either way, a trade is very possible if Alonso is truly available. Toronto and Cleveland have depth at first and likely aren't desperate enough to shed top-tier arms for the young cuban, but Oakland could use as much help as they can get. The Reds could make a push for Trevor Cahill (who could be the younger Roy Halladay) or the oft-trade-rumored Gio Gonzalez, but neither are officially on the trading block.
This makes Tampa Bay the logical solution. A heap of young talented pitching and a gaping hole at first base, the Rays also love young and salary controllable players. It's a match made in heaven. The final step could be for Rays VP Andrew Friedman to close the door before Billy Beane and Oakland dump everything on the table to make their own push for Alonso.