BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Yu Darvish wait continues, amid more speculation as to how much was bid and who the team with the high bid may be.  Toronto is still seen as the favorite, though the winning bid is now speculated to exceed the $51,111,111.11 record posting bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka.

There have been a number of starting pitching names thrown around as trade possibilities, and once Darvish joins C. J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle in the “taken” category; the trade market is likely to heat up.

Yesterday, a trade was completed.  San Diego sent right-hander Mat Latos to Cincinnati for starting pitcher Edinson Volquez and three of the Reds’ top six minor league prospects - first baseman Yonder Alonso, right-handed pitcher Brad Boxberger and catcher Yasmani Crandal.  This is a blockbuster deal.

Latos is 24 and was just 9-14 last season for the woeful Padres, but his ERA was 3.47, his WHIP was 1.18, and his opponents’ batting average was .233.  He will be under team control contractually for four more years.  Reds’ GM Walt Jocketty believes he received a top of the rotation starter in Latos, and paid dearly to get him.

The 28 year-old Volquez arrived in the majors with Texas and was the key player in the trade in which the Rangers obtained Josh Hamilton.  He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010, and a slow recovery led to a 5-7 record with a 5.71 ERA in 2011.  However, he was very strong over the final months of the season after a mid-season tune-up in AAA.

Alonso, the number two ranked prospect in the Reds’ system, is expected to become an impact bat, and is perhaps the biggest piece to the puzzle San Diego received in this deal.  He was blocked at the major league level by Reds’ first baseman Joey Votto, an All-Star and former MVP.  The switch-hitting Crandal is also a very good prospect; but like Alonso, he was blocked by number one Reds’ prospect Devin Mesoraco, as well as Ryan Hanigan at the big league level.

The Reds may or may not have a true top of the rotation starter in Latos, but for sure they sent a monster haul to the Padres to make the deal.  General managers of clubs with pitchers such as Matt Garza and John Danks certainly took note.  If this trade defines the price to play poker in the game of trading for a starting pitcher, the Rangers have no business trading for a starting pitcher.  Pitchers like Garza and Danks are only marginally better than what the Rangers already have in the fold.  If the Rangers do shell out a prospect package akin to the one San Diego received for Latos, Texas needs to receive a significantly better pitcher than Danks or Garza in return.

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