Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What's Next for the Redlegs?

The acquisition of right-hander Mat Latos on Saturday ended the team's long search for a top-of-the-rotation starter -- a piece of their roster puzzle they so desperately desired. With this pressing need now off the "to-do list", what's next for GM Walt Jocketty and the Reds moving forward? Apparently, it's bullpen help and a left fielder, and in that order.

"I think we're going to look at the pitching situation. First, we'll address the bullpen a little bit. Once I get pitching done and know what we have left to spend, we'll know more about left field," said Jocketty when asked about what was in the works for future moves.

According to multiple sources close to the team, Cincinnati remains in talks with free agent closer Francisco Cordero, although no signs of a deal are close. Two other free agent closers that have been linked in talks to the Reds this off-season include 31-year old Ryan Madson and 34-year old Brad Lidge, although (like so many others) they too appear to be more than the club can afford.

One avenue the Reds still may try and explore is the possibility of landing Oakland A's closer Andrew Bailey via trade. However, after forking over three of their top ten prospects to acquire Latos, I'm not sure they can put together an attractive enough package to get such a deal done. But I have been known to be wrong before. And of course there is always the option of grooming Cuban sensation Aroldis Chapman to close out ball games.

As far as their search for a left fielder goes, free agent Cody Ross' name has come up in reports more than any other from what I've seen. Other candidates include Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel, Pat Burrell and Jason Michaels. One intriguing player still left on the free market is 5-time All-Star and 8-time Gold Glover Andruw Jones. The 34-year old hasn't had a real productive season since 2007, but his recent lack of success may just drive his asking price down to somewhere Cincy could afford. And if Jones could somehow manage to post his 16-year career season average of .260, 30 HR and 90 RBI, the Reds' playoff hopes would be looking very rosy.

One final area Jocketty will assuredly address is getting a veteran to backup youngster Zack Cozart at shortstop. While I feel this to be the very least of the club's concerns at this point, it would be nice to add another veteran presence to both the locker room, and the position, to aid in Cozart's development. Free agent Ryan Theriot is reportedly the likeliest suitor to assume that role.

Whatever Jocketty and the front office decides to do, they won't use a whole lot of cash to do so. Jocketty has been so adamant about being thrifty this off-season that some may begin to wonder if the organization has any money at all right now. All kidding aside, the Reds are doing their best with the relatively, limited financial resources they have to work with. Oh, what a wonderful life fans of small market teams get to enjoy!

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