In the early a.m. on Thursday, I gave Walt Jocketty a C- for his participation in the winter meetings. This was clearly before Mr. Jocketty‘s phone went nitro and things started to move.

But deadlines hold us accountable, and on this Friday morning, it’s time to revisit and re-grade Jocketty‘s short trip to San Diego.

The Reds committed Grand Theft Alfredo when they flipped Alfredo Simon, a 33-year-old who was discovered in exile after the Baltimore Orioles cut him in 2011.

Not only did Jocketty find a gem of a replacement starter for a plethora of injuries that would happen in 2014, but he turned this aged, free-agent scrapheap find for two of an organization’s top 10 prospects.

Baseball America ranked shortstop Eugenio Suarez and right-handed pitcher Jonathan Crawford as top-10 prospects for the Detroit Tigers at the beginning of this year. Crawford was No. 6, Suarez No. 8.

The Reds now avoid another arbitration contract and add two talented prospects to their minor league system. Crawford could turn into something special. In two minor league seasons—the short-season New York-Penn League and Low-A—the right-hander is 8-5 with a 2.73 ERA.

He struck out 85 batters in 123 innings pitched in Low-A and allowed only 39 earned runs.

Suarez may one day be the replacement for the offense-deprived Zack Cozart. In six minor league seasons, the right-handed slugging shortstop slashed .278/.362/.415. In 85 games with the Tigers last season—his rookie season—the 23-year-old slashed .242/.316/.336.

Cozart‘s OBP last year was .268.

Jocketty continued the budget cutting when he flipped No. 2 starter Mat Latos for right-handed starter Anthony DeSclafani and minor league catcher Chad Wallach from the Marlins.

DeSclafani was ranked as the Marlins’ No. 5 prospect by Baseball America. In three minor league seasons, DeSclafani went 26-16 with a 3.23 ERA.

He appeared in 13 games for the Marlins last season and went 2-2 with a 6.27 ERA. He gave up 23 runs in 33 innings pitched, struck out 26 and walked just five.

Michael Hurcomb of writes that Jocketty sees DeSclafani in the 2015 rotation, saying, “We think DeSclafani will fit into our rotation this year. Our scouts were very, very high on him.”

Catcher Chad Wallach is just 23 years old, and in two years of minor league experience—mainly at Low-A—he slashed .293/.392/.399. It may be a while before we see him in Cincinnati, but the Reds organization looks to have acquired a competent bat. He was a fifth-round draft pick for the Marlins in 2013.

So, what to make of all these new faces? Jocketty moved two arbitration-eligible players for four manageable contracts.

The Reds’ 2015 rotation does take a hit. As of now, it’s Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and we’ll assume DeSclafani and Tony Cingrani at the back end, but it wouldn’t surprise me if another starting pitcher was added from the wire.

You also have to think that all of this payroll shedding paves the way for the Reds to get the corner outfielder they want. Jocketty told the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s John Fay the following: “This is it for now, we’ve gotten close to where we need to be, and now we can concentrate on some of the needs we have.”

So look for more to come. While the 2015 Reds didn’t get any better, it’s promising to know the franchise can breathe. The moves in total saved about $15 million in payroll for Cincinnati (probably more because of arbitration).

I’m accepting late assignments for the holidays. After further review, Jocketty gets a solid B+ for the winter meetings this year. The 2015 product has gotten weaker—for now—but the franchise and its outlook beyond one season improved significantly.

A new era of pitchers will be breeding in the depths of Cincinnati’s minors, and names like Robert Stephenson, Ben Lively, DeSclafani, Cingrani and Nick Howard make for an exceptional contingency plan should Cueto and Leake depart.

All stats courtesy of unless noted otherwise.

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