With the 2012 campaign officially in the books, it is time to shift the focus toward 2013. The Reds return most of their NL Central Champion roster next season, so they won't need to retool it that much. However, this is not to say that GM Walt Jocketty won't be looking to upgrade areas of weakness. ESPN's Jim Bowden realizes this fact and outlined some potential free agents the club may pursue come wintertime. Here's a snippet from his recent piece:
Possible free-agent targets
Nick Swisher: Swisher might hit 30 homers at Great American Ball Park. His defense is slightly better than Ludwick’s and his high energy and enthusiasm would fit in the Reds’ clubhouse.
Michael Bourn: Baker tells me every year that Rickey Henderson isn’t going to walk through his clubhouse door any time soon. There’s not a Rickey Henderson in the free-agent market, but Bourn would solve their leadoff woes. Of course, the Reds still have Drew Stubbs, whose greatest asset is center-field defense, so they'd have to move him if they signed Bourn. Signing Bourn also potentially could block Hamilton, if center is indeed his future position.
B.J. Upton: His 12 home runs in September might signify a breakout year in 2013. He’s no leadoff hitter, but his speed, power and defense would fit the Reds’ lineup.
Melky Cabrera: If the Reds can get past the positive PED test and suspension, they could steal Cabrera as an undervalued free agent and he would fit in left for them.
Cody Ross: Reds scouts have always liked Ross, who is a similar talent to Ludwick.
Possible trade targets
If the Reds aren’t able to address their needs from the free-agent market, they might be interested in making a deal. They might try to swap Stubbs and his high strikeouts for either speed or more power. The Minnesota Twins, trying to rebuild, could move veteran Josh Willingham, who doesn’t fit in their plans. He could replace Ludwick in left field. If the Nationals go out and sign a true center fielder -- as has been rumored -- that could make Michael Morse expendable, but it would take more than Stubbs to get him. The Reds' farm system isn't loaded with talent, so they might have difficulty swinging a prospect-for-veteran deal.
Honestly, none of those names he mentioned really excites me. Cabrera is a liability, Swisher is yet another lefty, Upton is overvalued, and Bourn potentially blocks the development of Hamilton. But with that being said, the Reds will have to pull a rabbit out of their hat to get similar production as what Ryan Ludwick offered for a mere $2.5M. Hey, stranger things have happened before -- like becoming the first team in history to lose in the NLDS after going up 2-0.