(If you haven’t read Matt Klinker’s Spotlight Player post, go do that now. Then come back and read this post.)

As the Reds continue to search for a right-handed hitting outfielder, it appears that Rocco Baldelli may be an option for the Reds after all:

As the Cincinnati Reds continue to look to add a right-handed hitting outfielder, free agent Rocco Baldelli just became that much more appealing, according to MLB.com. Cincinnati has had its eye on Baldelli for a while now, but with Wednesday’s news that Baldelli’s illness is much more treatable and non-progresive than originially diagnnosed, the Reds appear to be increasing their interest in the former Tampa Bay outfielder

Reds GM Walt Jocketty told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Wednesday: “I haven’t talked to his agent [since the report came out]. But if it’s not as critical as it was thought to be, that changes the way we see him. I’m sure it changes it for a lot of clubs.”

Baldelli’s agent has already spoken with numerous teams, including the Rays, this offseason, though it can be assumed that Baldelli will now have more leverage in negotiations since his health is no longer a serious question mark.

Baldelli is just one option Cincinnati is exploring in its pursuit of a right-handed hitting outfielder. The Reds have had discussions with the agent for Juan Rivera. The Reds are also believed to be exploring the possibility of negotiating with Pat Burrell.

Is there any rational reason, by the way, that the Reds are insisting on a right-handed hitting outfielder? Should they be limiting themselves to that particular market?

27 Responses

  1. KY Chip

    Looks like Rivera will soon be out of the Reds’ FA picture. Angels are reportedly close to resigning him.

    Baldelli or Burrell may be the only options left to add a good RH stick in LF.

  2. preach

    Lefty, righty….at this point I don’t care as long as the guy can mash a ball and won’t be a total embarassment in the field.

    I don’t get why Rocco’s health is no longer a concern just because something he has is treatable? Sure, it’s better than something you can’t control, but according to the medical authorities I have read, this is still something pretty serious which may very well substantially limit his playing time. He still seems to be no more that a fourth outfielder regardless of who he signs with. Perhaps we could do something in a rotation with Dickerson and Hopper, but that seems pretty risky. I always liked Baldelli and when he first came up I thought he was going to be a superstar and perhaps he still has that ability, but for a club that is in need of dependable starting outfielders, this sure seems questionable.

  3. bweav44

    Looks like Juan Rivera’s going to resign with the Angels…..crap.

    I’m with you Preach, Baldelli’s still really risky. I’ll be shocked if he plays 80 games next year.

  4. Mark in CC

    I think they have announced that they are looking for a righthander because they don’t want to hear about Adam Dunn. We all agree with them.

    Yo Adrian, bring on Rocco.

  5. Y-City Jim

    I agree with preach. It is simply an assumption that Baldelli’s health is no longer an issue. Just because it is treatable doesn’t mean he is cured, and it doesn’t mean that he won’t suffer from after effects. He sounds like a good story for an episode of “House.”

    I also agree that the Reds are exhibiting tunnel vision with this obsession that it has to be a RH bat. The numbers show they had trouble hitting righthanders last year way more than lefthanders. How about focusing on finding somebody who can just hit? While they are at it how about focusing on how they are going to get the rest of the line-up to show more patience at the plate and actually get on base more often?

    Some will argue that the RH bat is needed to split up the LH bats. Why worry about how to split up the LH bats when they don’t even knows what the batting order will be? Right now the order would consist of three LH bats and four RH bats. Maybe that extra bat should be LHed so we split the RHed bats.

  6. KY Chip

    From John Fay at the Enquirer:

    “The Reds quest for a right-handed-hitting outfielder is now centered on Jerry Hairston Jr., Rocco Baldelli and Willy Taveras.

    Walt Jocketty hadn’t gotten official word that the Reds were out of the Juan Rivera sweepstakes. But he had heard the report that Rivera had signed a three-year deal with the Angels.

    “His agent told me they had a three-year deal out there,” Jocketty said. “I told him we probably wouldn’t go three. So that makes sense.”

    Jocketty made talked to agent for Jerry Hairston Jr. and Rocco Baldelli (it’s the same guy).

    “Just briefly,” Jocketty said. “He was in and out of meetings.”

    The Reds have an offer out to Hairston. They remain interested in Baldelli. A new report on Baldelli’s mysterious ailment came out Wednesday. It makes him a much more attractive option for the Reds. He could play center or left. He’s a middle-of-the-order bat when healthy.

    The Reds also are believed to have an offer out to Taveras, who they see as solution to the leadoff/center field spot.

    I thought there was a good chance that the Reds would sign Rivera. But I can see why they were hesitant to offer a three-year deal.”

    —–

    So, offers to Taveras and Hairston, perhaps taking a look at Baldelli, too. Sounds like Burrell is out of the price range of what the Reds are willing to offer. I also found curious there’s been no further mention of Wigginton as a possibility for LF. And I’m still not sold that a change in his meds will make Rocco into an everyday starter.

    Whatever the case, there’s no one in that list who is going to contribute on a daily basis. Which leads me to the following question:

    How far away is Drew Stubbs, anyway?

  7. Dan

    Milton Bradley please!!

    Jonny Gomes if we must go cheaper!!

    But NOT Willy Taveras!!!! Please!! Speed alone does not make someone a good baseball player.

    The Reds need, above all else, an injection of OBP to this lineup. Even “the good ones” (Bruce, Phillips) are OBP challenged. That is a serious problem as OBP leads to runs more than any other stat!!

    If we sign Taveras, then Walt doesn’t get that. (Plus the guy doesn’t even look like he’s trying to hit the ball out of the infield. Ugh. This isn’t 1968 anymore, Willy!)

    Come on, Walt, surprise me…

  8. Kevin

    The Reds have a really bad habit of taking fourth outfielder/utility guys for everyday starters (Keppinger, Freel, Hopper)…but honestly, Taveras as our solution for an everyday leadoff hitter? How is it ANY different from the Patterson experiment? I know that’s been said before…but I swear we can do better than that. Baldelli might be a worthwhile risk if he comes cheap enough, but I don’t think he will. A large market team can afford him at several million/year and have him benched most the year, but I don’t think we can. We’re halfway through December and the only move is Freel for Hernandez….Sigh…

    I guess this is maybe good because maybe we aren’t going to mortgage our future to go 81-81 in 2009, but I wish they had just said that in the first place instead of that stupid letter and then Jocketty not being able to pull anything together. I probably spoke to soon though.

  9. Y-City Jim

    If the Reds can’t do better than these guys they are looking at currently, they might as well run Keppinger out there into LF if Gonzalez actually comes back and plays.

  10. brublejr

    I don’t think the RH bat is that important, just one that can fit between Votto and Bruce. That throws out all of those guys. I can live with Baldelli signing to platoon with Dickerson against LHP and spot the left and right when guys need a day off. If you can get him to play 80 games it would most likely be worth it, because he isn’t going to play everyday anywhere. I am really disappointed with not going after Rivera more. I think if they would have targeted him right away for a 3 yr 12-13 mil contract it would have been done fast. Now we are going to have to live with CP2 and Hairston’s fallback to reality. I’d rather see Stubbs get the time in for experience that see CP2.

    I can’t really say I am happy that this is all they got going for them. We can sign crap to throw out in the outfield, but pay 12 mil a year for a closer. Disgusting.

  11. brublejr

    BTW, I did really like the Nix signing. I hoping he can pull it all together because we may have gotten a steal there.

  12. Tom

    “The Reds quest for a right-handed-hitting outfielder is now centered on Jerry Hairston Jr., Rocco Baldelli and Willy Taveras.”

    That’s the saddest thing I’ve read all offseason. If that is true, saddle up for another losing season.

  13. David

    With Frazier (projected at 3B or LF), Stubbs (projected at CF) and Alonso (forcing Votto to LF) all projected to arrive sometime in 2010, it doesn’t make sense to go after guys that require three year deals, so I understand why they bailed on Rivera.

    As for Baldelli a misdiagnosis is a big deal. Failing to receive appropriate treatment can lead to the problems exhibited over the last few years. A GREAT example is Jay Cutler who was finally diagnosed correctly and because of the correct treatment plan has far more energy and productivity. However, you better believe if true his price just went through the roof. On the other hand he may be willing to sign a one year deal to prove he can last a season.

  14. John

    I don’t get this RH obsession either. They have Phillips and Encarnacion, both of whom have 20-30 homer ability. With Junior gone, Phillips or Encarnacion can bat 3rd, with Votto or Bruce behind them. Really those are the big bats you want to break up anyway.

    Gonna be a long season if this myopia continues.

  15. GregD

    I’d go Votto, Encarnacion, Bruce 3-4-5. Votto and Encarnacion have better OBP skills in front of Bruce. And if Bruce has a good start to the year, Encarnacion is going to get some good pitches to hit.

    Since they aren’t willing to pay for, and perhaps not trade for someone materially better than Encarnacion, I don’t see why the remaining acquistions HAVE to be RH.

  16. preach

    “The Reds quest for a right-handed-hitting outfielder is now centered on Jerry Hairston Jr., Rocco Baldelli and Willy Taveras.”

    That would be a guy who had a fluke season who has never stayed healthy, a guy with a misdiagnosed disease, and a guy who has never hit anything.

    You know, I could live with waiting until next year to field a winner, but this is unbelievably bad. At least with Dunn and Jr there was a ‘threat’ of some offense. To make it even worse, these guys aren’t even much of an upgrade on defense. Taveras with all his speed just is not that good of a fielder. He seems to have throughout his career just taken the wrong angles on balls and is too tentative when he has to get near a wall. Baldelli will tire too quickly chasing stuff down in the gaps, and Hairston will get hurt on his first few diving attempts. Everyone of these guys would be decent 4th outfielders. None of them are starters. We are hit in the mouth.

  17. preach

    …and if I’m not mistaken Baldelli and Hairston have the same agent, so there is some familiarity with the parties involved.

  18. pinson343

    Hopefully neither Hairston nor Taveras is the RH bat that’s supposed to have a big impact on our offense. I understood that RH bat would be an RBI guy with some serious pop.
    Taveras as leadoff – please say it ain’t so.
    Hairston, as we all seem to agree, would be a solid utility player, but not more than that.
    A LH bat with pop who can hit left handed pitching would help us just as much as a RH bat who can do the same.
    Dunn says he wants to play for the Cubs ? What do people think of that ? What happened to that bogus All Star starter, Fukodome ?

  19. KY Chip

    How strange is this? In Peter Gammons’ new blog at ESPN, he reports on “What we _don’t_ know” as of right now and raises the idea that the Dye deal may not be dead…

    Gammons writes: “We don’t know whether the Angels, were they to lose Teixeira, would turn to Manny Ramirez. We don’t know whether Randy Levine, Hank Steinbrenner and the Yankees could win out and buy Ramirez. We don’t know whether the Red Sox will decide not to pony up and sign Teixeira or whether there really might be a three-way deal among the White Sox, Angels and Reds that would put Jermaine Dye in Cincinnati, Joey Votto in Anaheim and Chone Figgins in Chicago.”

    Can’t say if this is just something Gammons has dreamed up in that Red Sox-addled brain of his or if it’s a real possibility that’s he’s heard some rumblings about. Just thought it was strange to see… and a really, really bad idea, to boot.

  20. David

    Why in God’s name would we trade 5 years of Joey Votto for a year of Dye? The Reds didnt want to trade Bailey straight up for Dye so a Votto trade makes absolutely zero sense.

  21. Y-City Jim

    Not even the Reds are stupid enough to trade Joey Votto, and certainly not for Jermaine Dye. Gammons must still be suffering from the stroke.

  22. preach

    I would love to see Figgins in a Cinci uni. But I sure don’t want anything to disturb our core of young position players.

  23. KY Chip

    Umm, preach — the deal Gammons dreamed up wasn’t for Figgins to come to Cincy, but rather for Dye. I’d love to see Figg at 3B or CF for this squad, but there’s no way that’s going to happen.

    And yes, I also would certainly hope the Reds aren’t stupid enough to ship Votto for Dye, but remember, this is the same Front Office who believes Willy Taveras could the ‘the answer’ in CF.

  24. Tom

    What if the Reds, instead of a deal for a fulltime OF, signed a bunch of cheaper FAs and built a couple of platoons to fill LF and CF.

    Career Age BA OBP SLG OPS
    Hinske vs RH 31 .264 .347 .458 .805
    Gomes vs LH 28 .266 .369 .510 .879

    Kotsay vs RH 33 .288 .345 .432 .777
    Kapler vs LH 33 .294 .344 .484 .828

    2008 Age BA OBP SLG OPS
    Hinske vs RH 31 .262 .344 .500 .844
    Gomes vs LH 28 .182 .281 .424 .705

    Kotsay vs RH 33 .282 .340 .418 .757
    Kapler vs LH 33 .354 .379 .622 1.001

  25. preach

    Yeah, I know Chip. I was just dreaming of acquiring an outfielder who could also play third or second base who is a legitimate lead off hitter with actual speed and can play a solid defense.

    But we still have a shot at Taveras……

  26. KY Chip

    preach: “But we still have a shot at Taveras…”

    In the same way that I still have a shot at colon cancer.

    And yes, I did recognize your comment was sarcastic… at least I hope it is.

    Otherwise, we’ve found Walt Jocketty’s super-secret login name on redlegnation.com.