The biggest move was the acquisition of third baseman Scott Rolen in a four-player trade that sent third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and pitchers Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart to the Blue Jays.
Just before the deal, the Reds dealt utility infielder/outfielder Jerry Hairston Jr. to the Yankees in exchange for Minor League catcher Chase Weems, who was assigned to Class A Dayton.
"It seemed like things were quiet the last two days," said Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, who was Rolen's former boss when both were with the Cardinals. "They just picked up more today."
Rolen, 34, was batting .320 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs in 88 games with the Blue Jays. He is a five-time All-Star, a seven-time Gold Glove Award winner and appeared in two World Series with the Cardinals in 2004 and '06. The Jasper, Ind., native had to waive his no-trade clause before the deal could be finalized.
The Reds received an undisclosed sum of cash in the trade that will offset some of Rolen's salary. He was making $11 million this season and is due to make $11 million in 2010.
"Ownership was definitely on board with this one," said Jocketty, who added he hoped to retain Rolen when his contract is up after the 2010 season. "They felt it was very important to try and get the deal done. It's a big contract but we're getting some relief from it. It's still a big commitment from ownership to take this on. We feel it's the right thing to do. It's another indication that we're trying to go in the right direction with this organization."
Perhaps, but Jocketty paid a big price in giving up two young pitchers for Rolen. Roenicke, a reliever that had a 2.70 ERA over 11 games in the Majors, had been one of the prized prospects in the organization and the hardest thrower that often topped out at 98-99 mph. Stewart was a 2008 third-round Draft pick that had reached Triple-A Louisville recently. He was 4-1 this season with a 1.67 ERA in 23 games, including 14 starts at Class-A Sarasota, Double-A Carolina and Louisville.
"It was kind of the stumbling block. We finally gave in and decided to give up the pitching," Jocketty said. "There are a lot of things Scott will provide this club that we felt was lacking -- leadership on the field with position players. I had a lot of experience with him obviously in St. Louis. I think he brings a lot to our club."
In Encarnacion, the club gave up on a player that had first reached the Majors in 2005 and was long considered to be part of the future. However, the 26-year-old never seemed to fulfill the promise, offensively or defensively. While missing 58 games this season with a wrist fracture, he batted just .209 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 43 games.
Although he worked hard to improve in the field, Encarnacion was still prone to making errors with bad throws. A poor throw on a double play ball on Thursday vs. the Padres led to a four-run inning in a loss.
"Sometimes a change of scenery might be good for you," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I think it's a great opportunity for Edwin. And we're just as happy to get Scott Rolen. A Gold Glove third baseman, an RBI producer, we're excited to see him play. It's going to help our team, out outlook, our attitude. I hate giving up Roenicke. But you have to give up something to get something."
The move was still an outside-the-box trade for the Reds, a team that entered Friday with a 45-56 record while being 9 1/2 games out of first place in the National League Central race.
"How can you not want a guy like that? It would be hard for us to find a better third baseman in the game defensively. ... That tells me this organization isn't remotely close to quitting."
-- Reds right-hander Bronson Arroyo, on Scott Rolen
"We made ourselves better -- that's how I look at it," Jocketty said. "We made ourselves better for this year and next year. That's what I said all along we're trying to do."
Rolen was with the Blue Jays in Oakland when the trade went down. He was making arrangements to be in Cincinnati by Saturday and was not available for comment.
"How can you not want a guy like that?" Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo said. "It would be hard for us to find a better third baseman in the game defensively. Obviously, pitching against him -- he's not a guy I want to see at the plate with men on second and third and two outs. That tells me this organization isn't remotely close to quitting."
The Reds made an effort to get younger this season and had Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips form the core of their lineup. The club lacked veterans in the clubhouse and it created a leadership void.
"He's a guy who's been there," Baker said. "A lot of guys haven't been there. He's been to a World Series. He's been on pennant contenders almost annually. He knows what it takes. You want those guys around. He'll not only be able to tell guys how it's done, but show them, too."
Hairston was batting .254 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs this season. He can play second base, shortstop, third base and all three outfield positions.
The 33-year-old Hairston revitalized his career with the Reds after he was signed to a Minor League contract before the 2008 season. He wound up batting a career-high .326 and was re-signed to a one-year, $ 2 million contract this past offseason.
"Anything can happen," Hairston said. "I'll never forget what they did for me in reviving my career. Guys like Walt Jocketty, Wayne Krivsky, Dusty Baker -- those guys gave me a chance and opportunity to get back into the game. I'll never forget Cincinnati and how they treated me and my family. I know they're begging for a winner here and this team has really been hit by injuries and it's a young team as well. I really believe that the Reds are definitely on the fast track."
Just because the Trade Deadline has come and gone, it doesn't mean the Reds are necessarily done dealing. Trades can still be made until Aug. 31, as long as the players clear waivers, which is a much harder process.
The club has players like starting pitchers Aaron Harang (owed $12.5 million in 2010) and Arroyo ($11 million in 2010) and closer Francisco Cordero ($25 million owed through 2011) that could be moved if the right deal is found.
"I don't know if there will be a lot done or not," Jocketty said.