With the July 31 MLB trade deadline just a month-and-a-half away, some Cincinnati Reds players are starting to find themselves involved in trade rumors.

Some of the rumors might have substance, but others are exactly what they are called—rumors. Fans love to discuss potential deals that their favorite teams may be involved in, but it’s up to the front offices to come up with deals that they feel are fair for their clubs.

Unfortunately for the Reds, injuries are hitting the team hard for the second year in a row. Every team has to deal with injuries, but not many have had to deal with the amount of key injuries that this club has suffered over the past two seasons. As a result of the injuries, the team has again put itself in a big hole.

Now, the front office must decide what to do with valuable trade chips like Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman. Parting ways with players of that caliber might be tough for a team to do, but it may benefit the organization in the future.

Cincinnati is showing signs of life as of late. The team is playing well, despite a number of injuries to players such as Zack Cozart (knee) and Marlon Byrd (wrist). That makes trade-deadline decisions that much tougher. Eventually, a decision must be made.

Below is a breakdown of some of the current rumors floating around.


RHP Johnny Cueto

With their chances of re-signing Cueto after the season slim, it seems like the Reds will be in position to trade their ace at some point before the deadline.

If Cincinnati does indeed decide to trade the All-Star pitcher, it will have plenty of suitors to choose from.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted that members from the San Francisco Giants organization were in attendance for Cueto’s last start against the Chicago Cubs, and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reported that the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers all had scouts at the game as well.

Cueto, 29, is one of the best pitchers in the game. Obviously, he should be able to get the team a nice return in a trade. However, his value will be limited, given that he is signed only through the rest of the season.

The right-hander is making just $10 million this season. For a pitcher of his caliber, that is an absolute steal. But that salary is going to jump up next season after he signs a monster contract this wintera contract the Reds will not be able to afford. All of the teams reportedly scouting Cueto have been known to make big deals and would all be able to afford him with no problem.

That makes each of those teams an attractive trade partner to the Reds.

Cincinnati finds itself facing an interesting dilemma: It can trade Cueto for a decent return package, or it can hold on to its ace and get a draft pick when he leaves in free agency. Given the fact that teams won’t be willing to deal away their top prospects for maybe just a half-season’s worth of Cueto, taking the draft pick may not be a bad move for the Reds.

Again, should the Reds decide to deal Cueto, there will be plenty of teams interested. There are just nine teams in all of Major League Baseball that are not within five games of a playoff spot. With Cueto’s team-friendly contract, there aren’t many playoff contenders that wouldn’t be interested in his services.

The only problem is that the longer the Reds wait to make a trade, the less they will get for him. Knowing that and the possibility that he could get hurt, the team needs to be actively looking to deal the pitcher right now.


RHP Mike Leake

Cueto and Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels are going to be the most coveted starting pitchers on the market, but Leake isn’t going to be far behind.

The 27-year-old Leake has proved himself to be a consistent and reliable pitcher since debuting in 2010. The right-hander gives his team quality innings, and he doesn’t get hurt. Those are both things that teams want to see in a pitcher.

Rosenthal noted that Giants scouts were on hand to see Leake’s latest outing, and George A. King III of the New York Post reported that the Yankees had a scout in attendance as well.

The athletic pitcher may be better suited for the National League, given his stuff and ability to swing the bat (.227 career batting average). However, he wouldn’t have a problem pitching in the American League, as his 3.83 career interleague ERA (in 18 starts) shows.

Leake’s 2015 salary is comparable to Cueto’s at $9.775 million. That shows how much of a bargain Cueto is, but it also means that no contending team would have much of a problem taking on Leake’s contract for the remainder of the season. For a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher a team can rely on, Leake’s contract is reasonable.

Like Cueto, Leake is in the final year of his contract. That will limit his trade value as well.

Should the Reds decide to hold on to Leake and see what happens after the season, things could get interesting. Leake would be more affordable than Cueto, although CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the club never approached the former first-round draft pick about an extension last offseason. That could mean that the team doesn’t view Leake as a part of its future.

There’s no doubt that the Reds have plenty of young arms that they see as the future. Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and Robert Stephenson are all promising young pitchers who are much cheaper than Cueto and Leake. If those young arms continue to impress in the coming weeks, it could convince the front office to deal both of its veteran pitchers with expiring contracts.


All stats are via MLB.com.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com