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Reds give up the farm to pry Latos from Padres

Associated Press / December 18, 2011
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The price tag for Mat Latos was daunting. The Reds were willing to pay it.

The Reds addressed their biggest offseason need yesterday, acquiring the righthanded starter from San Diego for a package of four players that includes two top prospects.

Cincinnati gave up infielder Yonder Alonso and catcher Yasmani Grandal - both first-round picks - along with starting pitcher Edinson Volquez to get the 24-year-old Latos, who initially will move into the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Johnny Cueto. Latos went 9-14 with a 3.47 ERA last season, finishing among the NL leaders in ERA and strikeouts.

The Reds also sent righthanded minor league reliever Brad Boxberger to San Diego.

The trade surprised Latos, who said the Padres had indicated to him that he wouldn’t be going anywhere.

“A little bit of shock and a little bit of excitement,’’ Latos said, describing his reaction. “Shock because literally I wake up and I’m traded. Excitement because I’m excited to join a club that’s got a lot of talent and a lot of potential. I’m excited for new scenery.’’

The Reds wanted him so badly that they were willing to give up a lot.

“To acquire a pitcher who is ready to fit into the top of a rotation, you have to give up talent,’’ general manager Walt Jocketty said.

Latos joins a rotation that includes Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, and Homer Bailey. The rotation was a problem last season, with Cueto opening the season on the disabled list and Arroyo struggling with mononucleosis that he contracted during spring training.

Heading into the offseason, the Reds needed to get another top starter and a closer to replace departed Francisco Cordero. They think they’ve filled their first need.

“When we have Cueto and Latos at the top of our rotation, I think people are going to take notice,’’ Jocketty said.

Latos tied a major league record by allowing two or fewer runs in 15 consecutive starts in 2010. Last season, he held righthanded batters to a .204 average and made 20 quality starts, tied for most on the Padres, who like their pitching depth.

“Mat, with all his success, I think grew up in a hurry in the big leagues and is probably going to do very well in Cincinnati,’’ Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said. “We do have a good group of pitchers. We have a very good group in Double A coming up behind him. It was a tough trade to make, but we have a huge chunk of talent we have put into the system the last couple of years and ultimately I think that’s our best path to success.’’

Rollins staying put

Jimmy Rollins is bringing his swagger back to the Phillies. The three-time All-Star shortstop agreed to a 3-year, $33 million contract, which includes a vesting option for a fourth year. The agreement is pending a physical. “Gotta deal with me for 3 (4) more years!’’ Rollins wrote on Twitter. He also thanked former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins, who tweeted congratulations to Rollins and the Phillies. Rollins, the 2007 NL MVP, has spent his entire career with the Phillies after being selected in the second round of the 1996 draft, and was a free agent for the first time. Rollins, who turned 33 last month, sought at least a five-year deal. The Phillies didn’t want to go that long, and were able to reach an agreement after the market for Rollins lessened. He hit .268 with 16 homers, 63 RBIs, and 30 steals last season . . . The Giants reached a one-year deal with backup catcher Eli Whiteside after declining to offer him a contract Monday, avoiding arbitration and making him a free agent. Pending a physical, Whiteside will receive $600,000 if he is on the major league roster and $175,000 if in the minors.

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