Continuing our discussion on the 2010 season, we’ll take a look at the Reds bullpen. Even with the trades of four relievers last season, the Reds are still looking at a long list of possibilities for the 2010 bullpen. They have a lot of depth, and after Cordero a lot of inexpensive options.


Closer: Francisco Cordero. The Reds would be best served to move him this offseason and use the payroll on a position of greater need and impact. I’m encouraged that he can be moved given that at least three teams signed closers to 8-figure salaries last offseason. Brad Lidge, Kerry Wood, and Brian Fuentes all received multi-year 8-figure salaries. Cordero has 2 years and $24 million remaining.

Internally, the job could go to Nick Masset. Externally, the Reds could look at a less expensive option like Rafael Soriano. J.J. Putz had his option declined by the Mets and is another interesting name to consider, but I think his closing days, if not his career, is probably behind him.

Multi-million dollar contracts: Arthur Rhodes and Mike Lincoln are due $2 million and $2.5 million, respectively, next year. Rhodes definitely stays with the team. Assuming he is deemed healthy enough to recover this offseason and play next year, Lincoln will be given a chance to earn his contract, too.

Arbitratiton eligible players: Nick Masset and Jared Burton just barely qualified as super-2’s and will have fours years of arbitration eligibility. Both players will and should be retained. The first year arbitration figures shouldn’t be too expensive.

40-man relievers: If all 5 of the above are retained, the other relievers on the 40-man roster will be fighting for just two positions: Daniel Ray Herrera, Carlos Fisher, Pedro Viola, and Bill Bray. Herrera and Fisher are the leading candidates.

40-man “5th starters”: The following players may be competing for the 5th rotation spot or for one of the few bullpen positions: Matt Maloney, Micah Owings, and Daryl Thompson. Micah Owings just barely missed super-two status and is not arbitration eligible. Thompson’s career future is in the bullpen, and the organization should shift him there this year to see if he could handle 8th/9th inning duties.

Minors: And even more internal choices, though most likely not on the opening day roster, are the following minor league pitchers: Logan Ondrusek, Sean Watson, Enerio Del Rosario, and even possibly Justin Lehr.

Past discussions in this series centered on the 2010 Reds outfield, the 2010 Reds infield, and the 2010 Reds starting rotation.

19 Responses

  1. broadwaydave

    it sure would be nice if we could move cordero. i am absolutely convinced masset is ready for the job.

  2. brublejr

    I would try to move Cordero to the Braves for one of their starters. Masset seems ready for the job, also Rhodes could probably do it for a year.

    Lincoln needs to go, too many better options than him, but they will give him every chance in the world since he makes 2.5 mil this year. Just think that 8.5 mil go to Taveras and Lincoln because of horrible 2 year deals given out by Walt! 🙄 There is a TON that could have been accomplished with that money.

    Also I think Herrera and Fisher get the chance off the bat because of their seasons last year, as soon as one falters, then you will see Bray unless he is on the DL again (likely) or maybe even Thompson if he can stay off the DL himself.

    If Owings doesn’t win the 5th job, then he will be the long man, which he did well at the end of last year. I do believe they will give him a chance at the 5th spot again.

    The key for this team, I think, is trying to unload Cordero to give some flexibility. It is a must need.

    • Dan

      brublejr: I would try to move Cordero to the Braves for one of their starters. Masset seems ready for the job, also Rhodes could probably do it for a year.

      I totally agree, bruble. I mentioned the same sort of thing on here yesterday.

      If the Braves would trade Kawakami (2 years left at $6.67M per year) for Cordero (2 years left at $12M per year) straight up, I’d absolutely do that. I happen to think that’s a pretty good idea for both teams.

      I also suspect that the Braves undervalue Kawakami as he’s now their 6th best starter.

  3. Sultan of Swaff

    Cordero is going nowhere. There are too many closers available this winter, a glut that will drive down the asking prices. We’d have to eat 2/3 of his contract just to start the conversation. By then, what’s the point? You’d still have no payroll flexibility.
    Like the position players, we’ll likely be stuck with more of the same, but in the case of the bullpen, that’s a good thing. My concern is the depth behind Coco, Rhodes, and Masset. Outside of Herrera, there’s no proven quality to give us the depth you always need. Also, there’s a lack of power arms. To that end, I’d put Boxberger on the fast track and groom him as a reliever.
    Barring a Travis Wood lights-out spring training, my 5th starter is Lehr or Maloney. Neither one throws that hard, but they throw strikes, which Owings does not. For that reason, and his hitting, Owings is my long man.

  4. GregD

    Of the 6 players that mlbtraderumors.com lists as closers, 5 of them are Type A free agents. And Cordero is a better closer. If the Reds are going for salary relief, and asking for little talent in return, I could see more teams interested in Cordero than the free agents who are out there.

  5. wanderinredsfan

    @Sultan of Swaff: I am not one bit concerned about the depth behind Cordero. IMO, we have a huge amount of depth within our relief corps. Personally, I’d like to see Cordero, Rhodes, and Lincoln dealt by the summer trading deadline, and go with a cheap corps of our internal relievers.

    Masset, Burton, Fisher, Bray, Herrera, Ondrusek, Del Rosario, Watson, and Viola provide plenty of depth to choose from by as early as next season. Plus, there are others (Valiquette, Lutz, Krebs, Thurman, Pearl, Gonzalez) that aren’t too many seasons away from contributing.

    I’m going to disagree with your statement that we lack power arms; Viola and Ondrusek both throw mid-90s and can bring it up higher when need be. The velocities of Masset and Fisher aren’t too shabby either. Both can reach above 95 when need be. Let’s face it, Cordero isn’t really bringing much more to the table.

  6. Steve

    Trade Cordero. The Reds may have to pay some of his salary, but nowhere near 2/3. Cordero is worth much more than that right now.

    (C) Masset
    (RHP) Fisher, Burton, Lincoln, Owings
    (LHP) Rhodes, Herrera, Bray

    We can move one of the LH

  7. Sultan of Swaff

    Given the articles floating around the interwebs, cutting salary by ~$6million seems to be in the cards.
    Either Harang, Arroyo, or Coco would take ~$12mil off the books, cutting payroll, while keeping $6mil to replace the guy you trade (the Livian Hernandez effect).
    The other scenario is that we eat half of the salary and receive a prospect. This option would weaken us short term and likely remove any delusions we might have about contending in 2010.
    Is this fun or what?

  8. Sultan of Swaff

    @wanderinredsfan: In the sense that quality bullpens can be constructed on the cheap, I’ll agree. But on the whole, I don’t see the likelihood of that coming from this group of guys who haven’t made the bigs yet. There’s nothing in their K/BB ratios that stand out.

  9. brublejr

    @Dan: I would do that in a second. I wouldn’t even have to think twice about it.

  10. wanderinredsfan

    @Sultan of Swaff: So, you’re going to stand by an argument that Cordero is holding our bullpen together on his own, and that trading him would destroy our bullpen? I don’t agree. I think Cordero is replaceable from within (Masset), and that we would do just fine without him.

  11. Travis G.

    I’ll believe Masset can repeat last season’s performance when I see it again. Relievers are just so volatile, given the relatively small samples they produce. Look at Burton last season with that nagging injury, and how it cost him so much of the year.

    But I do like our depth. I don’t think you really need to do much with the bullpen, unless there’s some bargain left over in January. I’d take a cheap flyer or two on someone to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation, although I’d probably do Dan’s suggested Cordero-Kawakami swap and let the in-house crew fight for the closer’s spot.

    • GregD

      Travis G.: I’ll believe Masset can repeat last season’s performance when I see it again. Relievers are just so volatile, given the relatively small samples they produce.

      The same (that relievers are just so volatile) is true for Cordero, too.

  12. Travis G.

    @GregD: That’s absolutely true, but I’ll trust the consistency of the fairly large sample size he’s amassed. Cordero’s very valuable, but his 65-70 innings per season are not the best use of the Reds’ limited resources.

    It’s too bad that a) Cordero costs so much per season and b) the Reds are so financially hamstrung.

  13. Travis G.

    Tim Dierkes is reporting that Micah Owings is a Super 2, after all, which would make him arbitration eligible. I’d have to think they’ll non-tender him.

    • RiverCity Redleg

      Travis G.: Tim Dierkes is reporting that Micah Owings is a Super 2, after all, which would make him arbitration eligible. I’d have to think they’ll non-tender him.

      I saw in the paper today that he will not be given arbitration. He, Adam Jones and Mike Fontenot have the exact same years of service and “tied” for the last arbitration spot, and Fontenot somehow “won” the tiebreaker, leaving Jones and Owings Not Arbitration Eligible.

  14. RiverCity Redleg

    I like Cordero and am not willing to trust closer duty to someone who has never done it before, unless we have to. Masset excelled in the set up role and he is a viable candidate to be a future closer, I would just like to see some more seasoning. Everybody was eager to give Burton the closer job two years ago.

  15. Travis G.

    Ouch. Sucks for Owings (and Jones), but good for the Reds. He’s a useful pitcher at scale wages, but less so after that.

  16. preach

    “I would just like to see some more seasoning. Everybody was eager to give Burton the closer job two years ago.”

    Ya’ know, this is a good point. While I understand that many people overvalue closers, I think it’s possible to undervalue them as well. If we do move CoCo, we need to get something very servicable at the major league level to help the team right now, or it just isn’t worth the risk.