With the eventful winter meetings concluded, many players are on the move. The general consensus of the watchers, however, was that the offensive market moved really quickly and the pitching market is now starting to fall into line. The Reds made two major moves and came away without a LF, so we eagerly wait to see what Walt Jocketty will do. We know they’re going to get one, the question is who.

Slowly but surely, free agents get snapped up. The options are getting slimmer with these players already being inked:

  • Nelson Cruz – $57M/4 years
  • Melky Cabrera – $42M/3 years
  • Nick Markakis – $44M/4 years
  • Michael Cuddyer – $21M/12 years
  • Alex Rios – $11m/1 year
  • Torii Hunter – $10.5M/1 years

The remaining three free agents we’ve discussed at length on this site are Alex Rios, Nori Aoki and Michael Morse.

The other avenue to acquire a left fielder is by trade and several outfielders have already moved to new teams via that route – Yeonis Cespedes (Tigers), Matt Kemp (Padres) and Michael Saunders (Blue Jays).

A case has been made for Lucas Duda. Another name that has been popping up in trade rumors and profiled briefly back in the October series of trade targets is Dexter Fowler.

Here’s a rundown of the relevant factors.

Availability: Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that Fowler’s name has been coming up with discussions with the Blue Jays, and with one year left in arbitration he seems like he would be a likely candidate for trade given the Astros rebuilding plans. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow has said he plans for Fowler to be in Houston ‘for a long while,’ but Fowler also said that he hadn’t had any extension talks so far. So Luhnow’s statement could be trade posturing. Houston also has a number of options for centerfield that are more in their long-term plans who they might want to get major league experience – George Springer obviously, but Jake Marisnick is another prospect, Robbie Grossman and Alex Presley.

Contract: Last year of arbitration, projected to make $9 million – which is within the range of the $12.5 million shed by the Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon deals.

Offense: We keep talking about OBP uber alles and the hole that Shin-Soo Choo left when he took his .423 OBP talents to Arlington, and how many runs lost that was. As run differential continues to be a strong predictor of overall record, we know this is going to have to be an area of upgrade. Dexter Fowler, at .375 OBP in 2014, was the 15th highest ranked position player by on base percentage. That would be a monumental upgrade over Ryan Ludwick, Chris Heisey and Skip Schumaker (at or below .300). That number is also in line with Fowler’s career OBP of .366 according to Baseball-Reference. Fowler also has a bit of pop, between 8-13 HR the last 3 years and speed – 11-19 stolen bases.

For years, people were skeptical of Fowler’s offensive numbers because he played his home games in Coors Field. But his OPS+ for the Astros last year was 119, an above-league-average offensive performance and consistent with his output in Colorado.

Dexter Fowler in LF would make the Reds lineup: Fowler, Hamilton, Votto, Mesoraco, Bruce, Frazier, Phillips, Cozart, pitcher.

Defense: Fowler is fast, but defensive metrics seem to hate him. A lot of the negative value to his WAR (1.4 fWAR in 2014, Steamer projected 1.8 in 2015) is actually from defense. Moving him to LF would minimize that impact as a less valuable position and playing next to Hamilton could also help – OF speed would not be an issue with those two.

Age: Fowler will be 29 at the beginning of the season, so he should be able to sustain his historical levels of performance.

Injury History: Fowler’s 2014 season was limited by a right intercostal strain, limiting him to fewer than 120 games played for a second straight year. In 2013, it was a knee injury. Between 2009-2012, he played between 125-143 games a year, so he was fairly healthy.

Why the Reds Want Him: OBP, offense, all those things. Sure the Reds may have missed out on Cabrera and Cespedes, but Fowler may be just as good or better. In reading up on Fowler, I found this tidbit from the Crawfish Boxes blog:

If Fowler had played LF fulltime, he would have been the 8th best LF by wRC+, ahead of players like Melky Cabrera, Alex Gordon, and Yoenis Cespedes. When using offensive WAR he would have been ranked 8th as well, just behind Alex Gordon but still ahead of Cabrera, Cespedes, and the Texas Rangers $130 Million man Shin-Shoo Choo.

So if it’s a Choo replacement we want (2013 edition, not 2014 edition), Fowler might just be the most realistic option.

Cost: This is the great unknown, because of where the Astros are in their rebuilding. Given the contract status Fowler should be movable, but there are rumors of extending him (although again, the Astros have seriously great OF prospects). There is also a theory that Fowler is an important mentor to Springer’s development. He is also cheap enough in arbitration that the Astros do not have any pressing need to move him.

The Astros also have a very good farm system from all their rebuilding, Keith Law rated them as the #3 farm system in baseball. So while more prospects are always better, the Reds may not have players that are better prospects than what the Astros already have. One hope may be that the availability of an elite LF on the trade market (Upton) drives down the cost and another possible destination for Fowler. The Reds did just pick up 4 prospects for our troubles, so there’s more depth now to trade from (see Doug Gray’s updated prospect list).

GM Relationship: Apparently Walt Jocketty and Jeff Luhnow have history from the Cardinals organization. Luhnow was one of the reasons Jocketty was unhappy with the Cardinals and left. Here’s the excerpt from the NY Daily News:

“DeWitt cited an irreconcilable division within the Cardinals’ front office. But it was a division DeWitt created when he promoted Jeff Luhnow, one of the new-wave stat practitioners, as head of both player development and scouting. Jocketty viewed that as a usurping of his powers – especially since Luhnow clearly had the chairman’s ear – and let it be known to his friends and associates that he was not comfortable with the new arrangement.”

Luhnow’s “willingness to tap unconventional resources – stat guys, bloggers, baseball outsiders with oddball theories — drove some folks nuts.”

Conclusion: Just today Dave Schoenfield at ESPN wrote how each team in the NL Central might make the playoffs and as expected it’s going to be tough. The Cardinals are still #1, the Pirates and Brewers are not going away and the Cubs are much improved. For the Reds to make it, it’s all the factors we already know (healthy Votto, healthy Bruce, All Star Cueto, continued growth of Mesoraco, Frazier), and Jocketty finding a LF. Schoenfield concludes: “The ingredients are there for a 90-win team. This may be the final chance for the Votto/Bruce/Phillips/Cueto/Chapman Reds, but it can happen.”

I’m inclined to agree, which is why I think if its OBP the Reds want, Fowler may be the best option.

209 Responses

  1. Joe

    Fowler is the guy I wanted all along. Unfortunately Walts sour relationship with the Astro’s GM will probably prevent anything from happening…………so sad really.

    • Ron

      I would take Duda in a heartbeat… he hit 30 HRs LY playing 1/2 his games in the Grand Canyon of ballparks. He’d hit 40-45 playing at GABP…

  2. Thegaffer

    I agree, and have said this for years. Why were we not interested in Fowler last year when he was quietly traded to Houston for a middling return? It mirrors the Byrd fiasco of being not willing to pull the trigger at the right time.

    Seems like one of those 2 wrongs needs to be righted now.

  3. UNC Reds Fan

    I guess the real question is what it would take to get fowler…I liked the Duda idea because we were only talking cozart who has become a luxury thanks to the Simon trade (Suarez is putting up good fall numbers)…also the FA market just got smaller with the royals inking Rios last night

  4. concepcion13

    Rios is now off the board, and Rosenthal reports that Morse is about to sign with the Marlins. Somebody check Walt’s pulse.

      • RM

        The Reds have been blowing smoke for a long time now. It is really sad. The unwillingness to do something substantive is really amazing. Now we have 3 starting pitchers, (the others are all maybes) no real bull pen other than Chapman, a big question mark with our highest payed player, the lack of development from the minors and a lackluster bench. The Reds front office is not in the same league with others in the Majors (Theo Epstein is one player away from the pennant) Top that off with the worst trade in memory (Latos) and you are one starting pitcher injury from a 90 loss season. They are banking that the all star game will put people in the seats. It ain’t gonna happen. I hope I am wrong, but it is well past time for the front office to do something significant to improve the ball club. Fowler would be a big help, but when I see it, I will believe it. Our big splash will probably be a 39 year old who can pinch hit every two games.

      • charlottencredsfan

        My angle is 180 degrees from yours. IMO, Bob C signed Votto, BP and Homer to huge contracts; assuming all three would keep performing at high levels. This would keep them viable in the marketplace if he needed to move any of them. He was trying to please the fans and I appreciate him doing that. Good intentions don’t always equal good results.

        All three players are upside down and he has +$300M tied up in salaries he can’t move. Trust me, I have to believe Bob feels a whole lot worse about this than you or I do. He isn’t a cheapskate and I believe he wants to win as much as any of us. The best thing that can happen is for any, or all three, of these guys regain their value and can be traded to clear room in the budget; otherwise, the deadweight is a killer. Now, this is not to say these players are not good or even very players. They are but they are not worth the contracts they signed. They all out price the market. Just one fans take.

      • TubbyRed

        I do not understand how you can say the reds pitching staff has “maybes” but the Cubs who have a roster full of high potential talent but still unproven for a full MLB season are 1 player away from the pennant. If you want the Reds minors to develop talent you have to give them opportunity in the Majors like what it looks like Walt is doing with the 4 & 5 spots in the rotation. People can only write about how good Stephenson, Lorenzen, et al are before you give them a chance and start working on developing other players.

      • jessecuster44

        Worst trade in memory involved Milt Pappas and Frank Robinson. Just Sayin’

      • lwblogger2

        @Charlotte – I’m not sure that those contracts are above market when looking at this year’s free-agent signings. Salaries are insane right now. $11-million for Rios? $21-million for 2 years of Cuddyer? $40-million for 3 years of Hardy? Lester’s mega-deal? The Stanton mega-deal? 5 years and $82-million for Martin? And my personal favorite 4yrs/$88-million for Hanley Ramirez?!!?

        They may be more than the Reds should have spent but are in line with players who are capable of performing at similar levels and perhaps even lower than market for a guy like Bailey or Votto if they can return to even 2013 levels. Yes, their improvement does make them more movable but to me, more importantly, their improvement can make the Reds relevant as far as being competitive in the division. I think if the plan is just to get them healthy and move them, the Reds have got 3-5 years of rebuilding ahead of them. At best it would mean being competitive again in 2017. At worst it could be another drought like 2000-2009. The Reds were in perpetual rebuilding mode and it wasn’t all due to Griffey’s contract and injuries. I really, really don’t want them to go there again.

      • charlottencredsfan

        We just disagree. I don’t think the Reds will ever be in a good position for these long-term high dollar contract but what do I know. IMO, way too much risk for a small market team. At the moment, we are suffering from them

        It’s kind of like stock, we purchased Votto, Homer & BP stocks at their peak value (probably) and now we can’t sell that stock for of what we paid for it. Maybe be a lot. We purchased it at the top of its value and that’s a problem because we have no market to recoup our investment. I don’t look at these on an annual basis because of that fact. So instead of 2015 salaries, I look at the total obligation (+$300M) and it’s scary, at the moment at least. Ive been a businessman for a long time and I would be shocked if Bob isn’t looking at it the same way – it sure looks like he does from his actions.

        Small and mid market teams are always going to be in some form of rebuilding. Economics will not allow for anything else.

        All this is one man’s opinion and could very well be nonsense.

      • CRig

        The whole “worst trade in history (Latos)” comment has far too much hyperbole here. For you to say that, it seems you’re leaving out too many variables that made it happen (his medicals, his salary, scouting reports on both kids coming our way, team chemistry, etc.). It’s easy to be an armchair critic, but please back it up with a reason for the opinion.

      • Steve Mancuso

        The main variable that made the Latos trade happen was that he only had one more year left with the Reds and it wasn’t clear if he’d be worth the $8.5 million he was going to cost. Plus, we can’t fully assess the trade until we see what the Reds turn that saved money into. Can’t judge it on the player return alone. There’s an outside chance that DeSclafani may straight out-produce Latos this year. Not likely, but possible.

      • Sunandsand

        Steve is right, Latos value was near an all time low and the return netted a very cheap but quality replacement starter. This team could not afford the money anyway. So, how is that a bad trade?

        Samarja netted almost no real prospects and he was better than Latos last year and healthy. That sounds like we got a good value.

      • reaganspad

        Don’t forget the weather forecast RM that says it will rain every day this season in Cincy, potential for up to 100 games rained out.

        It will be the only factor keeping the Reds from losing 90 games.

        of course in the 72 they do get to play, they will go 44-28

      • 599mrichardson

        I don’t see the Reds making a “Big Splash” unless its for the worse (Short-term that is), but it is becoming more obvious that the team is looking to rebuild. And bringing in young prospects isn’t bad, and to sign/trade for a multi-million dollar player wouldn’t help us either, don’t forget we still have to pay for the Phillips, Votto, and Bailey contracts. The trades for Latos and Simon were simply to give us more cap space, which we need, so overall the Reds offseason is looking good for the future even though we are looking like a sub-70 game winner this year.

      • Michael E

        RM, don’t look now, but Deslafani is tearing up the Arizona Fall League and I noted the same thing Steve did, that there is a reasonable chance Desclafani pitchers better than Latos THIS YEAR and then will be cheap the next couple of seasons, while Latos is getting some overpaid 5 Yr, $100 million deal with declining K and K/BB rates.

      • Michael E

        RM, one more thing, would you have traded Stephenson and another low prospect for Latos if he were elsewhere and the Reds traded for him NOW? I wouldn’t and that is about the only pitcher we have BETTER than Deslafani is…so think it through.

        Not only is the Latos deal not “worst trade in memory”, it was actually a GOOD trade and wouldn’t even make a 20 worst trades list. Where is the love for this phantom ace Latos coming from? 1 year left, probably about $9 million arb salary and performance has declined the past two seasons (even before injury). I am at a loss, it must be so many fans think the grass is greener, as in now that Latos is gone, he was a stud and why did we let him go. Who knows.

  5. George Mirones

    Tony;
    ” Last year of arbitration, projected to make $9 million – which is within the range of the $12.5 million shed by the Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon deals”
    That may not be the view of management. While arbitration and possible extensions exist that $12.5 may not be earmarked for LF or any where else. It just might be cost cutting savings or put away for a Cueto extension. My thinking is LF maybe the last option on Walt’s “to do list”. WE have seen this before where the fan’s “to do list” is the furthest thing from Walt’s.
    Just a thought,

    • Nathaniel

      A very good thought. I believe Walt is watching what is happening in the Fall Leagues and will sign a few spring training invitees. Then see if he needs to get a proven MLB LF.

      • lwblogger2

        I was upset about Jocketty being extended but he’s already made a couple nice depth signings, where he’s brought guys in on minor-league contracts with an invite.

      • Nathaniel

        I was upset too but after the moves Walt has made, my optimistic conspiracy theory is that Bob C. is letting Walt make more of his of the decisions about personal within a specified budget. It looks to me that Walt is trying to build depth for relevance year after year and have a magical season as opposed to all in now then rebuild and repeat.

        I also think Towers was brought in as the heir apparent to GM. But that’s my theory.

    • Tony Liao

      Hi George thanks for reading – this is a good point and reflects the two different perspectives on the Latos and Simon deals – if they were mandated cost cutting measures because they needed to get to that level, then you’re right they won’t do this (and would be a bad sign for their 2015). if, however, its like what Jocketty said after the deals – that they now have some flexibility to address the LF position – then I think Fowler would at least be a reasonable budget option.

    • Carl Sayre

      The 12.5 million is just the Latos Simon numbers. There was about 6 million in letting the FA’s walk and from what I have seen the expenditures for replacements on the 25 man roster are all going to be league minimum salaries. Am I incorrect on the way I am doing my math to think that the Reds have “saved” well over the 12,5 number?

  6. Carl Sayre

    Alex Rios reportedly signed with the Royals for one year 11 million dollars. It is looking more and more like Winker is going to be opening day left fielder. When a 280 average with 4 HR’s and 54 RBI’s brings that much a real outfielder would probably bring 50 million for a year sheesh.

    • George Mirones

      While Winkler may not be there opening day, the Reds want to see a few things first and the AFL may not be a valid indicator, Winkler will probably be here by July at the latest, if all goes well for him. His MLB minimum salary makes the sense that Reds management understands.

  7. WVRedlegs

    I like Fowler, but read up more on the history between Jocketty and Luhnow, and there is almost a zero percent chance the Reds deal with the Astros. Jocketty might have to delegate some authority to Kevin Towers to get that one done.
    I still say the deal for a LF will be with the Rays, for Ben Zobrist. The Rays are asking way too much for one year left on Zobrist’s contract. Zobrist seems liek an ideal trade candidate for the Rays. And Reds. He has one more left on contract, and is close to earning 10/5 no-trade rights. Zobrist seems destined to be moved by the Rays.

  8. BearcatNation

    Ugh. I was screaming from the top of all rooftops last year that Fowler was the guy we needed to go get to play LF. This would be one year too late, but I guess it’s better late than never. Easy to brag now, but the pittance that it took to get him last year and his contract status shows that it would have been an exceedingly smart move.

    I’m all for this, but I’m betting it won’t happen. Unfortunate.

  9. lwblogger2

    Here’s something to consider about Fowler’s defense. Fowler roamed a giant OF in Colorado and CF at Minute Maid Park is a nightmare. There are strange angles, that infernal hill, and a lot of real estate. Fowler does however take some very questionable routes to balls and often seems to get a bad jump on the ball off the bat. Those issues may be compounded by moving him to a corner where it is more difficult to judge the ball off the bat, as opposed to CF where you usually can get a pretty good read. I don’t think he’d be worse than Ludwick or Schumaker out there though and would love to see him in LF at GABP.

    Like others have said, I don’t see this happening because of WJ’s relationship with Luhnow.

  10. charlottencredsfan

    At this point, I’m inclined to believe that the Reds truly intend to have the budget in the $110M, maybe $115M range. Hard to see anyone making any decent money (+$5M) heading our way without an offset.

    The real problem I’m starting to have with Walt is his reaching out skills seem to be very poor. Sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring is probably not the best way to make deals. Hopefully, another GM will have a room across from WJ’s in the very near future. Although, I’m only interested in cost controlled players, it is still frustrating nonetheless.

    Who knows maybe Poor Walt is agoraphobic – not a trait you are looking for in a GM.

  11. Tom Reed

    It looks like Aoki will be in left field in 2015 with a 2-3 year deal.

      • Tom Reed

        No knowledge, just an opinion like everybody else if that’s ok with you.

      • charlottencredsfan

        It’s okay Tom. If every claim here had to be backed up with facts, the Site wouldn’t exist. Heck it’s Hot Stove stuff anyway.

      • jessecuster44

        Just curious. Thought you had some inside dirt.

  12. Redsman

    Zobrist….I wish! Don’t think that is happening though. Nor is WINKER, likely to open the season in LF, either. I believe Charlotte is nearer the target. Especially when you look at what Wally has done over the last 2 seasons. Foisting an aging and brittle Ryan Ludwick on us as a legitimate LF’er does not inspire much confidence. I can’t actually see letting a little personal matter stand between the team and a deal for an available guy. Not really sure the ‘stros are actually trying to deal him. I too read the reports about him being George Springer’s nanny. Seems like that is another thing that would NOT stand in the way of a deal. That is, again, if he is really being shopped. Of course, most guys would be available for the right money. But that’s where the rub is….MONEY. I don’t think the Reds are willing to pay Fowler’s salary. Especially when there are still so many tantalizing options available, for a mere pittance. Guys like….Nate Schierholtz, Chris Dickerson, Nolan Reimold, Mike Carp and last but not least, tuh dahhhhh, Delmon Young! Just look how pretty the budget looks now!

  13. Michael RedcCurry

    We are watchin all of the better options for LF go off the board, while Jocko dozes in his office, watching “Price is Right” on his TV! Jocko “Waiting” for other teams isn’t a way to WIN, or have you not figured that out yet? I think LF’s going to be an older player, fairly weak in Avg, obs, ops, slg, sb & power! Thats been his m.o. since he’s been our GM! He wrapped all the present & future $ we have into 3-4 BIG deals that eats most of the budget every yr.If Votto, BP, Bailey, & Bruce weren’t making all that dough we wouldn’t have the small $ amount to deal with every dang offseason! We should’ve gave 3 or 4 starters 2-4yr deals that could’ve been around the same $ we used in Bailey’s Ext.! Votto will be moved in the next 2yrs if we don’t get to the World Series, & BP & Bruce as well. Anyone else seeing a Kemp deal yet? I’d trade Leake, Cosart, Bruce, Corcino, & Barnhart to Col. 4 CarGo & Rutledge, Maybe a Tulo & $, Rutledge.Sign Beachy, Medlin, Billingsley 2LOW$ deals, Farnsworth,Varvaro,Clippard in pen!

  14. al

    The Reds certainly have painted themselves into a corner with their very slow approach. There are basically no good starting outfielders left on the free agent market. I went through most of the free agents left and there are only three left that put up a better than .700 OPS last year.

    Delmon Young .779
    Colby Rasmus .735
    Nori Aoiki .710

    I wouldn’t mind seeing the Reds bring in Delmon Young or Rasmus as a 4th outfielder, but none of those guys represents a very good option for a starting left fielder.

    So basically, that means that if the Reds are going to come through on their promise to fans to improve in LF, they are going to have to make a trade. I like the idea of Fowler, and I still think that the Braves will trade Justin Upton, and he would be a great addition.

    • lwblogger2

      Delmon Young has always been tantalizing to me. I have also always been tantalized by Rasmus’ potential. If I wasn’t looking to really, really go for it in 2015, I would look at trying to bring one in and giving them the LF job on a 1-2 year deal. If the Reds want to go for it harder though, it is too much of a gamble to hope one of those guys can be your every day LF. You’d need to trade for a guy like Fowler or Upton or ????

      • Sunandsand

        Delmon is a cancer, and look at his numbers over last 5 years. He a below replacement level player.

      • al

        Of the two, I would prefer Rasmus, but he’d probably be more expensive given that he is only a year removed from a great year.

        That said, I would be fine with either as a 4th outfielder and primary bat off the bench. If there’s an injury in the OF, both of them could contribute as much as Heisey has in the last few years, and since we traded Heisey, we need a guy like that.

        But yeah, if you want to win the division in 2015, you can’t have one of those guys as your starter and Skip as your backup.

      • lwblogger2

        And I think either will be an expensive bench option, especially Rasmus.

  15. Mark Bradford

    The Reds fixed the budget that is what is most important. This team isn’t going to win in 2015, but they have fixed the team moving forward. They need good seasons from bailey and votto so they can hopefully trade one or both of them.

  16. sultanofswaff

    The Rockies have a surplus of outfielders but need what we have—–starting pitching depth in the minor leagues. Dickerson or Blackmon would be a great acquisition.

    You can’t play them all. At some point, we need to leverage these minor league assets because there are just too many who will get blocked.

    • lwblogger2

      I like both those guys but would be interested to see how they’d do away from the mile-high air. Dickerson slashed .245/.292/.389 on the road so far in his young career. Blackmon slashed .243/.272/.356 on the road so far in his career. Those aren’t inspiring numbers.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Good call. Look under the hood.

      • tct

        The home/ road split for Rockies players can be a little misleading, though. Just because a guy doesn’t hit well on the road with Colorado doesn’t mean he won’t hit if he gets traded to another team. Dexter Fowler put up a .678 OPS, 200 points lower than his home numbers, in 2013 for the Rockies. But he was a well above average hitter this year in Houston. Look at Seth Smith. He goes from Colorado to pitcher parks in Oakland and San Diego and has been fine. Matt Holliday was supposedly a product of Coors Field, but he has been really good for St. louis.

      • Michael E

        True, even good hitters (that left and were good) had poor road numbers with the Rockies. I think any hitter with good numbers at Coors will likely have pretty good numbers playing half their games at GABP, wouldn’t you? Not like we have a pitching park or anything. Much smaller than Coors, minus the lighter air…equal trade off, just more triples in Coors due to that humungous OF.

      • charlottencredsfan

        More singles and doubles to. Reds have a relatively small outfield, Coors is massive. No real comparison outside of HRs. GABP does not play as a high batting average park, not enough acreage.

      • lwblogger2

        I agree. Fowler and Smith are two good examples. Sometimes, it takes getting out of Colorado for half your games to get used to how the ball reacts out of a pitcher’s hand under normal conditions again. If you aren’t used to that for half your game, a decent curve or slider seems exceptional on the road. I’m just advising that one must be careful when evaluating hitters in Colorado.

  17. jessecuster44

    I still think that Emilio Bonifacio would be a good bench piece for the Reds.

    Aside from Aoki, there aren’t any FA OFs of value left. Ugh.

    • al

      I think you can scratch the “Aside from Aoki” part. Aoki doesn’t play good defense and hit 1 HR last year. One. He is a singles hitter with a decent walk rate. If he did even one more thing well, he could be of use, but he doesn’t.

  18. eric3287

    Dexter Fowler is a CF with a career high of 53 RBI and 13 HR. Walt has said, if we believe he is looking at all, that he wants a “run producer” in LF. Based on everything I have seen from him, when he says run producer he doesn’t mean “guy who gets on base and walks 60+ times per year.” He means rib-eye steaks, It would be extremely outside the norm of Walt to get a high on base CF and move him to LF. I don’t know if he has that kind of creativity.

    • lwblogger2

      I don’t know. I honestly was stunned when he brought in Choo, especially to play CF.

    • doctor

      The one guy out there meeting that criteria is Justin Upton but I don’t see how that happens with Braves looking for young pitching ie flipping somebody out the group of Stephenson, Lorenzen etc. Not really digging that idea given contract status of Leake and Cueto.

    • RedsFaninPitt

      I have heard Walt say he wants better OBP guys not necessarily “run producers”.

  19. George Mirones

    Let’s fast forward a bit;

    If the season started tonight at 7pm the 25 man roster would look like this.

    Eight starting positions are set (Schumaker in LF). The bench consists of K. Negron, J. Bourgeois, B. Pena, T. Barnhart, E. Suarez, D. Lutz

    That leaves 11 pitching spots (5 starters and 6 relief). 3 starters are set the 4 and 5 are a choice of; T. Cingrani, D. Axelrod, A. DeSclafani, or D. Holmberg

    Usually I am fairly neutral when it comes to optimism but this is scary. Going with 12 man staff means that the six backups become only 5.
    One injury to the starting 8 looks like another disaster waiting to happen

    I am not sure a new LF hitting .275, with comparable other % ratios can overcome the loss of a starting position player (a healthy Votto, Bruce, and (a-non injured) Frazier, or Mesoraco)
    I m going to start drinking today so maybe by opening day I will be able to watch the game.

    • charlottencredsfan

      Given the current state of affairs, it sounds reasonable.

    • JU

      Lutz would seem to be somewhat redundant on your list, so scrapping him and having 12 arms could be what it’s all about, not unlike the Hokey Pokey.

  20. Michael RedcCurry

    sultanofswat, thank u for the correction on the outfielder for Colorado. It’s Dickerson instead of “Rutledge”, maybe he was on their team. I think we offer Cosart, Corcino,Leake, & Yorman Rodrigez.(Thats a fairly strong package!), we could get Dickerson, & Tulo along w/xtra cash to offset his big $. I’d even be good with Carlos Gonzales & Dickerson for the same package like it is. Colorado would get a good & getting even better pitcher which they need there so bad, plus a gg-caliber SS, 2 youngsters w/upside with starting or relieving, and a toolsy outfielder that may be ready to start in 2015.
    The REDS get 2 really good/great hitting outfielders 2 put in both corners,,, and maybe get a allstar SS(Multiple GG, SS’s), that if he’s healthy can be a game changer! Walt could then trade Bruce to free up more $ and should have even more $ to help the bullpen or bench pieces! ONE MORE TRADE WHILE I’M HERE.. how about signing Ichiro as a pinch-hitter & also a 4th outfielder for us? he wants to stay in US and play.

    • jessecuster44

      Leake and Corcino? That’s steep, and Walt wouldn’t do this because he loves the pitching…

      I do like the Ichiro idea.

      • charlottencredsfan

        I wonder if Ichiro would accept an incentive laden contract? Like this for two reasons:
        1) One year and possibly fit the budget restraints
        2) Help Billy with his game especially hitting. IMO, Dong Long is not worth having a hitting coach. Proof? Every Reds hitter went downhill in the second half of last season with the exception of maybe Pena. Ichiro would be a great influence on the club period in my estimation.

      • jessecuster44

        Remember that everyone was injured, so that’s a blanket excuse for the hitting decline.

      • eric3287

        Todd Frazier 1st half: .290/.353/.500 .853 OPS
        Mesoraco 1st half: .304/.375/.609 .984 OPS
        I would say those were the only 2 healthy major league caliber offensive players the Reds had last year. So, yes, they went downhill, but do you think either of those #’s are indicative of the true talent of Frazier/Mesoraco? Not defending Long one way or the other, but he wasn’t exactly working with the ’27 Yankees, and when you have first halves like those two, it’s hard to go anywhere but down.

      • charlottencredsfan

        My instinct is that Don didn’t help “any” of the guys make adjustments. When everyone goes downhill, I’m suspicious; injuries or no injuries. Looks like he is back in 2015 so I guess my theory is pointless. Maybe he will have better luck next year.

      • jessecuster44

        I dig your theory. Brook Jacoby wasn’t much better as a hitting coach, though. Seems like Jay Bruce was listening to Votto a little bit before he got hurt. So it makes sense to bring in a vet who knows a thing or two (or 4000) about hitting, because these players may listen to their peers more than their coaches.

  21. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I do understand that Walt has talked a lot in the past getting players that are under team control for a number of years. However, what we are looking for in LF I don’t think necessarily fits that bill. We are looking for a 1-2 year rental, only until Winker or Waldrop are ready.

    Also, I’m hoping Walt isn’t expecting to get anyone we need for $3-5 million per. We are probably going to be looking at the $8-10 million per range.

    I don’t know if I would go with the ones who have been inked already. Hunter is a bit on the older side. Melky and Cuddyer (on the older side, also, as well as his question of injury) probably cost too much.

    But, there are still plenty of FA options out there. As well as, with the recent additions, that doesn’t mean that Walt wouldn’t turn something else around in a potential trade to bring a LF in here.

    I wouldn’t want Walt to “jump off the first ship” and grab the first LF free agent out there. But, I don’t want Walt to be the “last one off the ship” then see there are no more “life boats” left. I can understand the main thing with these trades, being a salary dump, as he stated. However, he also stated that we made room for other things. One of those things has to be a LF. Shoot, as is, I would have rather kept Heisey and had him out there full-time, or at least platoon with Schumacher.

  22. sultanofswaff

    MLB trade rumors just indicated that only $12mil guaranteed was required to secure the services of Michael Morse.

    If that price was too dear for the Reds, it leaves me no doubt that the trades of Latos and Simon had nothing to do with reinvesting the savings in a free agent. Rather, I think the only moves we can expect moving forward will be via trade—–Chapman, Cozart, or minor leaguers being the only plausible chips.

    • i71_Exile

      Morse was also moving home which might a factored into his price? The Marlins look to be intending to play him at first which tells me a little bit more about his defensive limitations. I’m still a little shell-shocked that Rios pulled down $11 mill.

  23. Steve Mancuso

    Another LF off the market – Rays trade Matt Joyce to Angels for relief pitcher. Joyce would have been a solid fit for the Reds. Angels didn’t give much up.

    Joyce has one year left on his contract at $4.5 million. So the price was right. Here’s what I said about him on October 10: Platoon of Joyce with Chris Heisey would be ultra cheap and low-impact way to go for Reds. Joyce expecting to be traded, won’t cost much.

    • charlottencredsfan

      Just for fun, if you could only pick one LF that ends up a Red, who you got?

      • Steve Mancuso

        Hmm. Yelich would be my top choice, but that’s not happening. Of plausible candidates, probably Justin Upton. He’d cost a pitching prospect or two, but rumors are that his price is falling a little.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Opps. Should have said who do you think not who do you want.

        What about Jose Tabata? Affordable: $4M/2015, $4.5M/2016, team options for 2017: $6.5M with $250K buyout.

        Plays all three OF spots and has shown some OBP ability. I could live with him if the price is right. He is in the Pirates system but is not on their 40 man roster.

      • Dale Pearl

        I would put both Stephenson and,Lorenzen on the next flight to Atlanta if it were going to give us Upton.

  24. i71_Exile

    Justin Upton is the LF I want. He’s pricey in both dollars and players, but would fit the Reds’ needs perfectly…but you weren’t asking me. 🙂

    • charlottencredsfan

      Heck everone jump in. I’m focused on who you “think” we will get for LF if anyone. Not who you “want”, harder game to play. My guess the contract will not be over $5M and no longer then a year or two. But I’m guessing.

      • preacherj

        Aoki. That’s the high side of realistic to me.

      • al

        I think the 4th outfielder comes through FA, and the starting LF comes through a trade. I don’t think it’s possible to accurately guess who we’ll get because there are so many types of trades that could happen.

        If they love Winker, and think that he’ll be ready next year, a guy like Upton or Fowler makes sense, even if you have to give up a starting pitching prospect.

        But what if the Rays have soured on Wil Myers? after his down year. What if the Reds offered Winker for Myers and a minor league reliever? That could give you your LF for the next 4 years.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Looks like Myers is going to SD.

      • redmountain

        The thing about this is what is available? Is anyone not tradeable? I am pretty sure that is weighing the options. If the Reds are going to trade for an above average OF it will cost. I feel certain that Stephenson, Winker,etc. are not available. If that is all the other teams wants to talk about, then I do not think the Reds will be able to do anything. So I wonder if Winker, or Yorman, of others are the back up plan?

  25. Steve Mancuso

    I like the Fowler idea as well. When people were advocating him a year ago, I was skeptical because he hadn’t proven he could produce outside of Coors Field. But his solid year for Houston convinced me otherwise.

  26. JU

    With Joyce being dealt, it’s clear the Reds have somebody penciled in. I don’t know how good Jepson really is, but he’s a relief pitcher.

    • al

      He’s just like most relievers, up and down. He had a great ERA last year, but has a career 3.94 ERA and had a really crappy year the year before. Looks a lot like JJ Hoover after 2013.

  27. gusnwally

    If the price is not too dear on Brock Holt he makes a lotta sense. Plays 7 positions, all well. Should be available at a cost of of a couple of prospects. Could play LF this year and SS or 2B or any OF spot in the coming years.

  28. Brian

    Wil Myers looking like he is going to SD, Mariners closing in on a hitter (hopefully its not another outfielder but probably is). Potentially two more LF candidates gone.

    • charlottencredsfan

      Again, to be clear I see Tabata roaming LF for the Reds in 2015. Sure as heck don’t like it but that is what my crystal ball is telling me. To put a twist on Horace Greely’s great quote, ” go young (west), young man and grow up with the team (country)”.

      Another option: a Skip Schumaker/Jonny Gomes platoon. Come on Walt, give the kids a shot.

      • Shchi Cossack

        Charlotte, one thing has become clear. Not only does WJ have to give the kids a shot, but the Reds skipper has to also give the kids a shot. Between the manager and general manager, the kids have a real challenge facing them to prove they can play in the show.

  29. Dale Pearl

    What I think is that there is substantial evidence out there that the Reds should have at least 10 million more to spend this year. 4 to 5 million for a 1 year contract to an outfielder and 4 to 5 million towards our bullpen. If that is all the Reds do this offseason that is only going to win us fourth place. ESPN even agrees with me on that front.
    I think that Jocketty goes out and gets a,veteran at the end of his,career just like he did with Rolen. The two most likely candidates in my mind are Ichiro and Byrd. I don’t think Aoki fits into the puzzle, and I think that he will be seeking more than a one year deal.
    Ichiro in left, the Reds pick up Brian Wilson to be our 8 inning guy along with Marshall and we are left with a few million to put towards an international player signing.

  30. JU

    Seriously, unless we can land Derek Jeter, I don’t see the Reds trading another starting pitcher or even a starting pitcher candidate. Until I actually see Homer Bailey pitching, I will be wary. And when Cingrani actually proves he can pitch, period … maybe. Otherwise, there is no way this team cannot go the free agent route in LF, unless they trade a non-pitcher for a left fielder.

  31. RedAlert

    The Walt Jocketty excuse train getting ready to roll into town – journey will be continued aboard the USS Shutout

  32. eric3287

    I think we can all agree the Reds need to find someone for LF to platoon with Skip. An ideal platoon would be: new LF starts all games and Skip platoons and comes in when the Reds are up or down by more than 5 to give him some rest.

    • jessecuster44

      If Skip is the Reds’ starting LF as the Reds head north, count me out of the 2015 season.

  33. Mark Bradford

    Reds aren’t making anymore moves because the 2014 attendance was so poor. Reds fans can blame themselves for the dumping of salary

    • Redgoggles

      I don’t think this is correct. It looks to me that it was their 3rd best annual attendance since 1978. Only missed the prior year by less than 1,000 per game.

    • jessecuster44

      Please explain how the 2014 attendance was poor. The Reds drew 2,476,664 and averaged 30,576 fans per game.

      This line of thinking has no credibility. Provide some attendance projections pre-2014 and maybe you’d have something to talk about.

    • Kyle Farmer

      The Reds attendance could have been better in 2014 but to say it was poor seems like a pretty big overstatement to me.

      • Mark Bradford

        Obviously the reds budgeted a larger attendance increase and came in far short of the number.

      • jessecuster44

        Obviously? How far short? Much of your comments reference the lack of money the Reds have. Your comments would hold more water if you gave some proof. There’s nothing obvious about a budgeted attendance increase, though one can believe that Bob thought attendance would be a bit higher in 2014. 30.5K per at 73% capacity is pretty good. How much higher could they go? Cincy is not, and never will be, St. Louis.

    • lwblogger2

      So poor? It wasn’t that bad. It was only ~15K off of 2013, which was the highest Reds’ attendance at GABP and ~139K behind the NL Average attendance in 2014.

      Reds’ attendance and NL average since 2003 (1st year at GABP)

      2003: 2,355,259 (2,273,813)
      2004: 2,287,250 (2,512,690)
      2005: 1,943,157 (2,583,685)
      2006: 2,134,472 (2,598,741)
      2007: 2,056,453 (2,756,384 NL Record)
      2008: 2,058,632 (2,755,082)
      2009: 1,747,919 (2,571,627)
      2010: 2,060,550 (2,563,111)
      2011: 2,213,588 (2,547,018)
      2012: 2,347,251 (2,592,218)
      2013: 2,492,059 (2,629,060)
      2014: 2,476,664 (2,615,565)

      Once again, the Reds’ 2014 attendance was their 2nd best at GABP and only slightly under their best, which was the 2013 season.

      Data from: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teams/redsatte.shtml

  34. Redsman

    Hmmmm, we seem to be getting a little whimsical up in here! Allow my attempt at contributing to the mirth and merriment.

    I really like the reference to the Wally excuse train. And he probably is asleep at the wheel…but what I want to focus on is ‘the kids’. Are you referring to Winker specifically? Or are you including Waldrop, Rodriguez, Perez, Duran, Bourgeois and Boesch? Not one of these guys exactly conjures the image of Roy Hobbs, though Bourgeois might actually be older than Redford.

    We could be surprised, but it looks like Aoki too is probably out of the picture for a reduced roster budget.
    Upton and Zobrist have been mentioned, anyone really think either of those two are making an appearance in the GABP outfield this year? Perhaps as members of the visiting team. Heck, Zobrist was mentioned last year at the deadline and how far did that go? And his salary is actually below his value.

    So yeah! Bring on ‘the kids’. I mean the real kids….like Winker. Let him learn on the job up here. He is probably as ready as BHam was last year. If we don’t really have the money to compete then bring ’em up.
    Stephenson too. His heat would probably play well in the pen and he would be cost effective. Forget the Boesch’s & Bourgeois’ of the baseball world, go with the youth movement!

    • Dale Pearl

      I for one would like to think that is what will happen. Problem is that Jocketty has made clear statements that he doesn’t feel Winker is ready. Price also clearly demonstrated by last years performance that one of his strategies as a manager is to favor veterans over rookies.

      • Kyle Farmer

        Take a listen to his interview with Lance McAlister at Redsfest. He changed his tune dramatically from what he said back in November when he was out in Arizona. The more outfielders that get traded for a bag of balls (Joyce, the kid the Indians picked up from the A’s) the more I’m convinced that Winker is the Opening Day LF.

      • Dale Pearl

        The only thing I got out of the interview is that Walt is thinking it will take in January and or February to finalize team construction this year. What make syou think he will jump Winker over Waldrop and Rodriquez? Like I have said before I think they should but the cards are stacked against Winker this year. 2016 is a different story.

  35. vared

    St. Louis is still king, Cubs are getting better quickly. I hate to say it, but at this moment it seems to me the Reds are closer to a basement team than a 1st place team. Of course, landing a quality LF could change my perspective in a hurry, but I’m starting to wonder. The fact that the Reds still don’t have a LF makes me wonder all over again what the heck the Heisey deal was all about.

      • Varied

        Okay, but that just proves my point then, because the concept on saving $2.5 million should be foreign to a contender. Especially when there’s no replacement at the time. I mean, $2.5 million is closer to the major league minimum than it is to serious money these days.

      • Mark Bradford

        The reds arent contenders 2015. They are trying to fix their budget situation to better position themselves in the future. Heisey not worth 2.5

      • tct

        There is no evidence at all that the Reds think that way. If they thought they weren’t contenders in 2015, they would be shopping Cueto all around town. There is no use to keep him for one more year if you don’t think you can compete in that year. And if they didn’t think they were contenders they would be trying to cut more than 17 million out of the budget. Why pay 110+ million in salary in a year that you don’t think you can compete when you could probably get that number down to 80-90 million, at least, by trading Cueto, Chapman, and dumping BP on who ever will pay him?

        If their main goal was to unload salary and pick up young, cheap players, then the obvious moves would be to trade Cueto and Chapman for prospects. That’s probably what I would do, but the Reds don’t seem to want to do that, which tells me that they believe they can win this year.

        What is your deal about telling everyone what the Reds can’t afford today? You’ve made like 6 comments already about the Reds being broke and you’ve blamed the fans for that. Blaming the customers for not spending enough money on a product is pretty weak, especially when the prouuct is a franchise that hasnt won a playoff series in almost two decades.

      • charlottencredsfan

        The difference between cash flow projection or a profit & loss statement versus a balance sheet. The first two probably look good, the third? Hmmmm.

    • JU

      If Votto shows up healthy, the offense is already better. There is no reason to believe he won’t. The need for a LF will be addressed.

    • charlottencredsfan

      Cubs vs Reds by position (WRc+):
      1b – Rizzo: 153, Votto: 128
      2b – Baez: 51, Phillips: 88
      ss – Castro: 115, Cozart; 56
      3b – Valbuena: 116, Frazier: 122
      LF – Coghlan: 123, Schumaker: 66
      CF – Alcantara: 70, Hamilton: 79
      RF – Soler: 146, Bruce: 79
      C – Castillo: 91 & Montero: 90, Mesoraco: 147

      Starting Pitching Rotation (ERA, WHiP):
      Lester: 2.46, 1.10; Cueto: 2.25, 0.96
      Arrieta: 2.53, 0.99; Bailey: 3.71, 1.23
      Hammel: 3.47, 1.12; Leake: 3.70, 1.25
      Wood: 5.03, 1.53; Cingrani: 4.55, 1.53
      Hendricks: 2.46, 1.08; Axelrod: 2.95, 0.98

      Just a rough comparison look but a case could be made the Cubs will field a superior team as they are constituted today.

      • Steve Mancuso

        I’m not disagreeing that the Cubs have improved a lot this offseason (and they signed Joe Maddon to manage). But the stats you chose are pretty weak. Past ERA is a lousy predictor of future ERA. WHIP is a contrived fantasy baseball stat. Using wRC+ is good for one hitting stat, but ignores base running and defense. Also, just using hitting data from 2014 is about as unreliable as you can get. I know you believe that Joey Votto will never play another healthy game in his life and that Jay Bruce’s knee didn’t have anything to do with his bad season. But if you wanted to present a more credible comparison, you could at least use projections for 2015 which factor in those variables. For example, the number you use for Soler is based on just 100 plate appearances. His projected wRC+ for 2015 is 118. Jay Bruce’s projection is 106. Much different. It would be more relevant to compare projected WAR for those players. The Cubs might still come out on top.

      • Dale Pearl

        If you go by steamers predictions we are also looking pretty bad in comparison. Of course they have Votto hitting .280 which I dont think is accurate but if Imhad to guess he will be closer to .280 than he will be to .310 we can only hope he has a high OBP and that someone bats behind him that can drive him in.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Had to pick something With as good as the Reds defense is, I figured the spread in FIP and xFIP would be even wider in the Cubs favor, so there’s that. Plus, I hear your point on wRC+ and agree JV, Bruce and Hamilton’s will probably go up but so will youngin’s like Baez and Alcantara. Point was “a case could be made”.

  36. Redgoggles

    As much as Fowler would fit into the Reds plans (non financially), if the Reds cut Heisey (pretty much a perfect 4th OF/PH) for monetary reasons, I’m resigning myself to the fact that there is no way the Reds are going to pay for a good LF this year. Due to money.

    • Kyle Farmer

      I agree 100%. No outfielder is coming. It’s Winker and the trades were exactly what the Reds said they were – salary elimination.

  37. JU

    Curtis Partch signs minor league deal with the Giants.

  38. ohiojimw

    Just like at the trade deadline the last two seasons and last off season, the names just keep on dropping (off the board). The hits just keep on leaving.

      • jessecuster44

        I disagree with the statement that there is no money to spend. There is plenty of money to spend. Bob just doesn’t want to spend it.

      • Mark Bradford

        Bob should not continue to lose money on the team. That is a recipe of financial disaster. Reds have no money to spend because attendance was so bad.

      • Drew

        According to “whom” was attendance bad last year?

      • Drew

        There is not one owner in MLB who is anywhere near losing monies on their team. The question how much money do they want to make.

      • jessecuster44

        Are you Bob’s CEO? Bob continues to print money with this team, and a new TV deal is going to only increase the cash flow.

    • ohiojimw

      I find the whole situation around the money or lack thereof to be very interesting.

      Up until two or three weeks ago, money seemingly wasn’t much of an issue. There was the normal sort of talk that the Reds wouldn’t be a player at the very top of the food chain; but, pretty much everybody covering the club that I read or heard did not seem to think there was any problem with money except the very top tier. For example, John Fay, and think what you will of his overall work, has always seemed to have a source somewhere in the Reds front office when it comes such matters and he was talking that money shouldn’t be an issue at the second level and below.
      Then at the meetings last week Jocketty drops the word that he is not in a financial position to trade a $10M contract for a different $10M straight up and that he needed salary relief in any deal. Whispers started floating that the Reds had to move up to $17M off the books. Within 36 hours or so, Jocketty had his salary relief by moving Latos and Simon.

      So, is the money saved on Latos and Simon plus what they dumped on Ludwick and Heisey et al. just money saved as in not spent or is it money saved to put back into the team elsewhere? We are starting to see a lot of guys presumably in the Reds price range (as of a couple of weeks back) go off the board.

      I guess we just have to stay tuned to see what gives next because I doubt they are going to start the season with what they have for LF when everybody with the organization is on record that Winker isn’t ready.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Last year at ASB should av been a sign that the Reds were not in a position to invest more money in contracts. My advice: watch what people do, not what people say.

        At some point, I guess the Reds felt the need to fess up: we need to cut $17M from payroll. I’m sure they rather not be in the position to have to admit it. On the other hand, there has been zero “real” signs we are ready to spend money.

  39. DB

    Just heard Padres close to acquiring Wil Myers from Tampa Bay. Another missed opportunity.

      • tct

        Myers has 2 years, 100 days of service time. Unless he’s a super two, he won’t be arb eligible yet and will make 500-600 k. Even if he’s a super two, he won’t be making more than 2-3 million. They have to pay somebody to fill these roster spots, and Myers is about as cheap a left field option as they will find.

        I think I’d take four years of Myers over six years of Stephenson or Lorenzen. So I’d trade either of those guys if that’s what it took.

      • lwblogger2

        Adding Myers actually costs about nothing in the way of dollars. Where it would cost is talent. It cost a lot of talent in fact. That said, Myers is exactly the kind of person that a mid-budget team should be looking at.

    • I-71_Exile

      The Pads have been one of the teams hottest for Upton. If they land Myers, then the Reds don’t have to bid against them—that’s assuming that the Braves are even interested.

      • jessecuster44

        Wil Myers is exactly the type of player you’d like to see the Reds target.

      • lwblogger2

        Yep, only they didn’t or the prospect price was too steep. Too bad. My biggest wonder is why the Rays wanted to move him?

  40. Michael E

    Why is everyone worried. Boesch will platoon with someone and give us league average LF numbers. We don’t even need to sign an overpriced LF (look that the insane money being spent on mediocre LF). We have a few candidates from the minors, Boesch, and hopefully another lower radar invite/signing. Is someone aching to come back from Japan?

  41. Jake

    Somebody wake Walt up again to remind him we need a LF bat and that viable FA are running out. I don’t want to see Grit as our starter in LF

    • Mark Bradford

      Walt is awake. But when there is no money to spend there is no reason to be awake. Can’t spend what reds don’t have.

      • lwblogger2

        Why do you keep saying that? How do you know exactly? This is bordering on trolling. You’re response is the same over and over. It’s quite possible that you’re right and there is speculation that the Reds needed to shed payroll ($17-million) being the rumor. Jocketty however said that the money shed put the Reds in position to fill other needs. Of course he’s probably not going to say “It was a payroll” dump but honestly, unless you know someone highly placed in the front-office, you don’t know what the Reds financial situation is. You are speculating just like the rest of us. You may well be right but posting essentially the same response every time someone makes a suggestion is way past old.

  42. Kyle Farmer

    Serious question here for Steve or someone else smarter than I am. Why do we believe a LF is coming? The Reds have said they needed to cut salary. Period. Not that they needed to cut salary so that they could turn around and spend that money.

    Isn’t it becoming more and more clear that the Reds did exactly what they said they needed to do – cut salary? These are our 2015 Reds. They didn’t want Joyce. They didn’t want Moss. Both came extremely cheap as far as the return trade. They apparently don’t want Myers who wouldn’t be expensive salary-wise. If they don’t want those three guys, then the calvary ain’t coming boys.

    Somehow, some way we’ve all been wrong on what the Reds have to spend.

    • charlottencredsfan

      Strange thing is they have been telling us this all along. We just didn’t want to believe it. We want to believe Uncle Walt is playing possum and maybe he is but don’t bet on it. As far as what I’ve seen, we haven’t even made an offer on any of the FA’s. That should tell you something.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Jocketty said the Reds needed to cut payroll *so they could acquire a LF and bullpen help*. Not cut payroll, period. The situation could be as simple as this: Last year, the payroll was $114 million. This year, Castellini set the number at $125 million. The Reds were sitting at $127 million, paying all their players to come back. Jocketty might have $7 million budgeted for a LF and $3 million for bullpen help. That would put them at $137 million without cuts. The Latos and Simon trades got payroll back to the magic number.

      Obviously, these are all just guesses. But nothing has changed much in the past few months. I said back in September, if the Reds were going to acquire a pricey LF, they would have to shed salary. I may have been optimistic on the “magic number” by a few million. But that’s hardly a big thing.

      Like I wrote the morning after the trades, we’ll just have to wait and see what moves they make before we know what they’ve done with payroll.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Plausible, yes. Likely? I don’t know.

        If I own the club, I would make it clear that a portion of the $17M haircut will be rolled back into salaries of a LF and bullpen for no other reason other than PR. That they didn’t couch it in those words and we have no evidence that they are going to reinvest that money in new players I’m thinking mine is the more likely path. A third option is they will use some of that money to extend Cueto, which neither of us would think wise. We’ll see.

      • Steve Mancuso

        It’s possible that Castellini has ordered payroll cut below 2014 levels or frozen, but there’s no evidence for that. It runs against his statements and recent increases. The All Star game season would be an odd time for it. It’s possible, but unlikely in my opinion.

        Jocketty has been clear about the “payroll trimming” issue from the start. They had to cut back – and more than what they will spend on a new LF and bullpen. Here’s a link to an article where he says that. http://m.reds.mlb.com/news/article/103839270/reds-winter-meetings-moves-open-door-for-future-additions

        That’s not because Castellini wants to spend less. It’s because the structural increases in salary, mostly to the arbitration guys, caused payroll to be pushed higher. They spent $114 million last year. After they ditched Broxton, Ludwick and Hannahan, they still would have owed $130 million-plus to the same players as last year. Say a new LF and bullpen help costs $10 million (conservative), that takes payroll to $140 million.

        If Castellini set the “magic number” at $125 million, then they needed to “cut” $15 million. So they DFA’d Ondrusek, and traded Heisey, Latos and Simon.

        If payroll goes from $114 million to $125 million, I don’t consider that a “cut” or frugal, I consider that a continuation of the past couple years of 8-figure payroll increases.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Great points; however, we read into Walt’s statement, “that we are in a better position……” differently. I take this to mean we are at baseline and we can make changes, not we are ready to reinvest the money we just saved. If the reinvest angle is true, why not say it? Wouldn’t we all feel better if he did? I think Walt is a very sharp customer and is ambiguous here for a reason. Let the fan read into it what they will but it is far from a clear statement to me.

        I could see the Reds adding a couple of million, no more than $3M, in a cheap free agent(s). Any trade of significance, I believe the Reds will save money or break even on the transaction.

      • Kyle Farmer

        Thanks. I sure do hope you’re right. Patience has never been among my best qualities!

      • MrRed

        I’d invite you all to read what Jocketty said today: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/redsblog/2014/12/17/121714-walk-jocketty-reds-payroll-to-increase/20549603/

        Maybe the Red’s brass reads these discussions after all 😉

        It seems that he is confirming Steve’s suppositions above. While he isn’t committing to a specific plan (and why should he given that it doesn’t help really help the team’s negotiation efforts) he is stating that payroll will increase over last year. The indication here is that another trade will be made to acquire a left fielder.

        And Jocketty is on record as saying that he wants to keep the starting pitching he has left unless he can get another starter back in the trade. So let the speculation on trade pieces ramp up. My guess is that the Reds are going to unload some of the minor league pitching prospects (yes, plural, as in multiple pitchers) they have stockpiled. As a follow on to that speculation, I wonder if the Reds really do intend to extend Cueto?

      • charlottencredsfan

        Good stuff Mr. Red. Nice to hear Walt say something about payroll.

        Who knows, maybe a Fowler or Duda is in the works. I like the idea someone presented down thread about Seth Smith. Very underrated ballplayer in my book. Only negative is that he bats left handed but I’d take him in a NYC minute.

  43. redsfan06

    A pricey player like Upton can’t be in the Reds view for a trade. Aoki looked like an option for a reasonable cost 2 year signing at the beginning of the off season, but his projected 3 year/$ 30 million contract doesn’t fit the Reds plans either. Fowler and Zobrist both fit as one year fill ins. They will both cost Latos like money but what do the Stros or Rays want in return?

    If the trade of Broxton late last year is included the Reds have shaved close to $25 million in payroll in moving him, Heisey, Latos and Simon. Subtract the walking money paid to Hannahan and Ludwick reduces the total to about $18.5 million.

    It seems like the Reds are near the payroll figure they want to be at for 2015, meaning there won’t be a signing of a $10 – $12 million FA. It looks like the new LF will come from a trade defraying some of the cost (Cozart?), another bargain basement retread or move forward with in-house options and hope Winker shows up mid-season.

    • charlottencredsfan

      My hunch is any trade we make saves the Reds money and no worse than revenue neutral. When someone tells me they need to cut $17M from the budget, I figure that’s $17M from the budget.

      IMO, it has zero to do with 2015 contracts and everything to do with their long term commitments to unmovable overvalued assets (+$300M). The Reds get out from underneath those commitments, Bob will spend money but much more wisely than he has in the past.

  44. gusnwally

    Here is a Christmas wish for about 90% of the RN readers and commenters. A brand new outlook on life. Just a little something to perk up your negative feelings on just about everything. Here is some help. It’s 8 days till Christmas. Opening day is not Monday the 22nd.It is not in January. It is 107 days away. Yep, I said 107 days. So maybe just maybe, Walt is not as sleepy as you might suggest. He is aware the Reds need a LF’er. I heard him say so.He also mentioned only a few days ago that the payroll cuts we recently had. Well, they could be used to help in areas of need. So have a cup of cheer, and have a wonderful holiday season.

    • jessecuster44

      Love the optimism!

      Let me provide an analogy to explain why I am a bit worried. Ever do Xmas shopping on Xmas Eve? Not too much to choose from. All the hot items are gone. For example, one year I wanted a “Big Wheel.” My parents shopped too late and all they could come up with was a cheap knock-off called a “Sport Wheel.” It broke after two weeks.

      Walt needs to get on the stick about shopping for that OF, or the Reds are going to be stuck with Skip, Boesch, and a Sport Wheel to choose from.

      • JoshG

        Yeah, but sometimes you can find some pretty cool stuff in the clearance section after Christmas, and you get more bang for the buck
        I am not saying that’s what I want.. just saying could be the thinking
        and for me I actually really like Aoki if they get get him for 2 years16 million with a third year 9 mill option and a 4 million buyout (20 million guarantee ), since that is the way Walt seems to like to do contracts

      • Tom Reed

        Aoki made two million last year. The Reds might get him on a two year deal for 7-8 mil. total.

      • JoshG

        no chance for that…he’s getting 7mil per year for sure

  45. gusnwally

    Jesse, sorry about the big wheel buddy. I can see the FA market drying up also. However, I am of the opinion that a trade would be more likely. I think some more payroll might have to go in the trade to accommodate what would be coming in. This is only one fans speculation obviously. I really believe Walt is looking for a really good deal i.e short term. He probably expects winker to be here sooner than later. I can picture a Bruce, B Ham, Winker being very productive and affordable for a number of years.

    • Kyle Farmer

      A trade may be more likely, but I think some of us are seeing the reality-based trade market drying up as well, almost as quickly as the free agent market. Guys we thought we could afford but apparently can’t are gone (Kemp). Guys that could be had for cheap and short term are gone (Moss and Joyce). Guys that would take a higher return but would be cost effective over a longer term are going, going (Myers).

    • jessecuster44

      I agree that Walt is probably thinking that way. But Winker won’t be ready in April! Gotta make a trade. Swooping in and stealing Myers would be delightful.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Keep your eye on Tabata. I figure the Pirates would pick up half his salary to unload him and that puts him in Heisey range.

      • RedsFaninPitt

        I like Tabata as well. Living in Pittsburgh, I know a lot about him. He’s young, relatively cheap – particularly if he is a starter (the Pirates have only used him as a replacement for injured OFs the past couple of seasons). He played very well for an injured Marte in 2013 during the 2nd half of the season. Played very sparingly in 2014 and was sent down to AAA in the 2nd half of 2014. He is a high contact, low strikeout guy who does not walk much. He does not have much pop in his bat, but it would probably play up in GABP some. He is primarily a ground ball hitter who likes to hit the ball to opposite field. He does not have much speed but can play RF & LF decently (not a good option for CF though). He would provide a decent leadoff bat or 2nd hitter in the batting order. Tabata has been in Hurdle’s doghouse for a couple of seasons at least. There has been some talk about attitude issues that have impacted some of the other young OFs in their system. I think this may be overly dramatized by certain ones in the Pittsburgh sports media. From what I have seen of him over the past 2-3 seasons, the more frequently he plays the better he is – although he is not a bad bat or OF to come off the bench. I think you could reasonably expect a .330-.360 obp with little power and speed. Surprisingly, late last season, he was put on waivers and, I believe, could have been picked up by the Reds without having to trade a way any talent to get him, and the Reds nor any other team pursued him. It would be odd to trade for him now. I don’t think it would take much, he is not even on the Pirates 40 man roster.

        How about Seth Smith if the Rays trade Myers to the Padres? The Padres would have a surplus of OFs if that trade were to go through. He would be relatively cheap for a starter – only guaranteed about $13 mil. for the next 2 yrs + a 3rd option yr. His LH bat could play up in GABP. What do you think it would take to in a trade to get him?

      • JU

        I wondered about Tabata when he was DFA. Now I see the Parrots have not signed Eddie Volquez, and he might have been on their to-do list. So, maybe they are after a pitcher. I doubt Walt deals with a divisional team, though. Maybe the Parrots deal Tabata to the Rays first.

  46. charlottencredsfan

    I’m a Smith fan but this is my take:
    1 – Reds would probably have to give up more than we’d like too. We have pitching to deal but that is the one thing the Padres don’t need.
    2 – Smith might be out of the Reds dollar range but not by a lot.
    3 – It appears we need a one year or less placeholder for Winker. Tabata would seem to make a decent back-up and I don’t see Smith in anyone’s reserve role.

    In the end, if we do pick up an OF, I think that person will have more in common with Tabata than Duda, Fowler or Smith. It would be great to have any of the aforementioned threesome but I can’t see it happening. I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble but I believe this is the reality of the situation.

    • RedsFaninPitt

      Depending on what goes down on the Myers trade, the Padres may be depleted in their minor league pitching prospects. In that case, I would be willing trade 2 of any of the Reds young prospects not named Winker, Stephens, Lorenzen, Iglesias, Blandino, Garrett or DeSclanfani.

      • Thegaffer

        I would have moved most of those in a heartbeat for myers. Winker is my only untouchable. Its clear in the last few days that reds 1) have less money to spend than we were told 2) they are not willing to get creative or other teams do not value multiple of our prospects. Its irritating as we have plenty of players to have made a good deal but nothing . . .

      • Thegaffer

        Myers was the one to go get given the finances. Remember he has 5 years of control. Even if you give up Stephenson, that is only 1 less as he will have 6 years. And that is assuming he even is good at all (not guaranteed).

      • JU

        That leaves some pretty nice choices. If you’re San Diego, gotta be lickin’ your chops at that group of players!

  47. Tony Liao

    And the OF’s keep on moving – the Mariners acquired Justin Ruggiano from the Cubs for a AA pitcher.

    Ruggiano slashed .281/.337/.429 last year, which would have been a decent upgrade (albeit over only 81 games). He is expected to make 2.5 million next year in arbitration (from mlbtr).

    • reaganspad

      looks like a player that we could have used. I wonder if the cubs wanted him out of the NL Central

      • JU

        Reds can’t use every single outfielder whose name gets mentioned.

  48. UglyStrike

    As bad as I hate to say it. I have a strong feeling that all deals have been made and what we have signed now is what we go into the season with. Except maybe some useless vets will be signed to minor contracts for spring training.

    You can plug whatever names you want into the needed roles.

  49. RedsFanForLife

    I’d like to see Reds management not only focus on outfielders, but how about trading for Evan Longoria? We could trade Leake, Cozart and some prospects and move Frazier to left.

    • JU

      You’d trade that many guys (prospects?) for Longoria? We are better off leaving Frazier at 3B and trading Leake for a LF.

    • Drew

      My guess is his contract is to expensivle to the “all of a sudden” cheapo Reds..

  50. CP

    Rasmus now makes the most sense to me. He’s a risk, but one with upside. He can also play a capable CF, which is important in case Hamilton can’t hit MLB pitching again.

    Unfortunately, what the team also needs, is another 1B/OF bat who can give some good at bats against RHP and occasionally spell Votto. Instead, they’re stuck with Schumaker who does nothing well.

    • tct

      I really like Rasmus, too. He’s got the most upside of any free agent outfielder left on the market. Coming off a down year, but he’d still be a nice get if they could get him for two years or less. Aoki would be an upgrade, but I don’t think he really moves the needle that much and GABP doesn’t really play to his strengths. If the money is similar, I would much rather have Rasmus over Aoki.

      • lwblogger2

        If I was making predictions, I’d say Rasmus could be had for 2yrs/$15-million. If he could hit LHP at all, this would make a ton of sense. He could end up in a platoon though. Not sure with whom as it would have to be someone who hits LHP. I like Rasmus as much as anyone out there right now though. At least of those who I think are likely available.

  51. dradg

    Seth Smith of the Padres could be available. They have a glut of outfielders. Last year had an OPS+ of 135 while playing in a pitcher’s park the vast majority of the year. Last year slashed 266/367/440, though better in the first half than the second half. According to Cots, has a team-friendly contract: 15:$6M, 16:$6.75M, 17:$7M club option ($0.25M buyout). Had a 2.6 WAR last year, but Steamer predicts a regression in slash line and 1.4 WAR next year (which still outpaces his contract if you assume $7M/WAR): http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=7331&position=OF

    • pinson343

      I’m with you, Dradg. The guy hits for power and OBP. I’ve wanted the Reds to get him ever since they traded Adam Dunn. The Padres don’t have a place to put him at this point.

      He doesn’t hit lefties well – so what, neither did Choo.

  52. vegastypo

    So the Dodgers and Padres must have about 14 outfielders between them, and here we sit with no better option to start 2015 than Grit Schumaker. I can only hope Walt’s plan isn’t to wait until spring training and see if these young guys win the job right away — and THEN go fishing if he doesn’t like what he sees …

    • JU

      Unless Winker really is being penciled in for the job. That’s a risk but … hey, so was Darnell McDonald. I’d rather lose with a kid than a scrap heap guy.

      • pinson343

        Winker is not penciled in for LF. WJ has said that many times.

  53. ohiojimw

    According to the Enquirer, WJ now says the Reds 2015 payroll will end up being more than the 2014 payroll but not as much as if they would have kept the guys traded, nontendered, options declined etc. They went on and did some mental math gymnastics and decided the current payroll (counting the buyouts paid) projects at probably about the ~$114M it was last season.

    http://www.cincinnati.com/story/redsblog/2014/12/17/121714-walk-jocketty-reds-payroll-to-increase/20549603/

    Round and Round it goes and where it stops…….

  54. UNC Reds Fan

    Did anyone else see that the Padres just got Myers from the Rays? Not saying he was worth the haul, but even the Padres are at least out there trying to get an OF, come on walt get in the game

    • pinson343

      One of the surplus Padres OFers might end up with the Reds – I’m hoping it’s Seth Smith.

  55. WVRedlegs

    Walt Jocketty is the Cousin Eddie (Christmas Vacation) of MLB General Managers.
    The Reds have pressing needs. The Reds claiming poverty and tight budgets are nothing but red herrings. To take Reds fans off the scent of what the real problems are at Reds HQ. The Front Office.
    Solved that now 4 year old hole in LF? Uummmmm, No.
    Rounded up any help for a woeful bullpen? Uummmmm, No.
    Any fiscal responsibility in the front office? Uummmm, No.
    The Reds problems are much larger than the product they are putting on the field, a 4th place team.

    • JU

      I’d agree they haven’t found a top tier LF yet but your complaint about the bullpen is far too premature. They’ve unloaded Partch and Ondrusek, which means that almost anybody is going to be better than those two guys.
      As far as fiscal responsibility, unloading $34 million in contracts would suggest they are addressing their payroll. I don’t know that they’ve cried “poverty” other than to demonstrate that they aren’t going to do like the Red Sox and sign everybody who wants a 3-year mega-deal.
      This team is a contender until they are not. Hand-wringing in the middle of December is fairly consistent with Reds fans, however.
      The front office has become a convenient whipping boy for people who think baseball is played with a box of Topps cards.

      • docmike

        But didn’t you know, if you don’t have your starting 9 set by Christmas, the season is already lost?

      • Redsman

        JU, “This team is a contender until they are not.” Does that include last year? Just wondering because after the failure to acquire a LF either all offseason or at the deadline…I don’t think many of us believed they were a contender. And especially not after they gave away our 2nd most effective reliever all season. To a division rival no less!

        Ergo, they are not now a contender until something happens to prove they are.

    • lwblogger2

      I think Inglesias ends up in the pen and that is an upgrade. A full season of Diaz should be an upgrade as well. Cingrani still may end up in the pen. I think we already are seeing a better pen than the 2014 version.

      • docmike

        As it stands right now, Iglesias, Cingrani, and DeSclafani are the candidates for the #4/5 spots in the rotation. I expect whoever loses out to be in the pen.

      • docmike

        Although I have to admit that with the money the Reds are paying him, and considering the competition, I will be a little disappointed if Iglesias is not good enough to win a rotation spot.

      • lwblogger2

        Maybe not in 2015 but the Reds see him in the rotation in the future. A lot of other teams in the bidding didn’t see that though. I’m hoping the Reds are right because as a #3 or even #4 starter down the road, his salary looks very affordable. In the pen, it’s not as affordable.

  56. IndianaRedsFan

    I watched Fowler play probably three years ago at GABP. My first thought was, “Man this guy is fast.” In fact I think he may have had some sort of game momentum shifting catch if I remember correctly. Anyway, I think this is a great OBP option to slide in behind Hamilton for the batting order. Also, you can teach fielding fundamentals but you can’t teach speed. Fowler, Hamilton, Bruce…yeah I buy that outfield defense any day of the week

  57. earl99

    I like the idea of Dexter Fowler playing left field for the Reds, but I just don’t see any indication that the Astros are really looking to trade the guy.