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One good trade just leads to another for the Reds

NATIONAL LEAGUE PREVIEW : KEY PLAYER

March 30, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

Josh Hamilton played for the Reds for one season, but he could leave quite a legacy in Cincinnati, as the central figure in two of the best deals of this decade. Hamilton languished for years in the Rays' system, sabotaging his career with substance abuse, limited to 23 games above Class A, and yet the Reds acquired him in the Rule 5 draft before last season.

He was a feel-good story. He hit .292, with 19 home runs in 90 games, and he shared his saga of personal failure and rehabilitation with anyone who asked. But baseball is a business, and the Reds needed pitching, so they traded Hamilton to the Rangers for Edinson Volquez.

The Reds have a decent rotation, with Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo and Josh Fogg in front of rookie Johnny Cueto. But they can make a run at the Cubs if Volquez can harness his ace stuff. The Rangers rushed him, then shuttled him between the majors and minors, but he posted a 2.70 ERA this spring, with four walks and 26 strikeouts in 20 innings.

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