Marc Lancaster reports in the Post that all indications are that Rich Aurilia will probably resign with the Reds before the end of the weekend. But Aurilia, who I believe is foremost looking for a starting assignment, is hesitant to sign due to concerns over playing time with the Reds in 2006.
Like it or not, the process will end by Sunday’s Major League Baseball deadline for free agents offered salary arbitration by their former clubs to re-sign. Indications are Aurilia will do so, but his agent, Barry Axelrod, said the veteran infielder isn’t completely sold on what the Reds are offering – in contract terms and playing time.
“We think they’re undervaluing his services – or, undervaluing what we thought was a pretty solid performance last year,” Axelrod said Friday evening. “We still have a little concern about how this all works with (Tony) Womack being there. They have told us that Richie wouldn’t be impacted by Womack’s presence, but I’m not sure how he wouldn’t be. Tony plays second base, and with (Felipe) Lopez playing short and (Edwin) Encarnacion at third, the more likely position for Richie to have been playing was second. With Womack there, it would seem like that would at least impact some time.”
Axelrod said Aurilia has spoken with Reds manager Jerry Narron about how playing time might be divvied up, and all parties involved understand that Aurilia will not be penciled in as the everyday second baseman if he signs. He probably would get the majority of playing time at the position, but also could see some time on the left side of the infield as Narron works Womack and Ryan Freel into the lineup at second.
Imagine that, the Womack acquisition is affecting other signings now. I know it has us all scratching our heads our heads, too. I know if I was Aurilia, there is no way I’d sign back with Cincinnati. It is pretty obvious he was looking for a fulltime starting position for next season, preferably with a contender. So the Reds tell Rich that he will not be penciled in as the everyday second baseman if he signs, but that his playing time won’t be impacted by Womack’s presence. I know that if I was Aurilia, I’d tell the Reds that they have some issues they need to address, move on, and wait around a bit longer to see how the Tejada situation pans out.
From the Reds perspective, why would they resign him unless they planned to start him at 2B with plans to deal either Freel and/or an OF for more pitching? Aurilia is going eat up a chunk of the change we freed up dealing Casey, that was supposed to be spent on pitching. So if signing him does not directly lead to a deal for a pitcher, it makes no sense for this team.
Where is this team heading? Let’s hope that someone shows us some kind of direction when the new ownership arrives in two weeks.