Thursday, December 19, 2013

What is even left for the Reds to sign?

It's not appealing
Have you checked the free agent list, recently? It looks like my refrigerator a week after Thanksgiving, with portions of aging foods that no one really wants, but that I will undoubtedly eat when I become desperate enough on Saturday afternoon. Sure there is some foil-wrapped turkey and ham left like Shin-Soo Choo, Matt Garza, and Ervin Santana left, but I am of course referring to the part of the list that would fit the Reds financially-strapped pockets and their needs.

It's pretty clear to see why Walt has explored several trades this offseason, mainly circling around @DatDudeBP. There's not really much on the free agent market to improve this roster, unless Choo suddenly takes a discount. A trade would seem the only likely solution.

Let's quickly examine what the 25-man 24-man roster looks like right now:

Starters: Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani
Bullpen: Sam LeCure, Manny Parra, J.J. Hoover, Alfredo Simon, Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, Aroldis Chapman

Catchers: Devin Mesoraco, Brayan Pena
Infielders: Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier, Zack Cozart, Jack Hannahan, Skip Schumaker
Outfielders: Jay Bruce, Billy Hamilton, Ryan Ludwick, Chris Heisey,

I'd say all the names there are a pretty likely bet as of now, with one slot left to be filled.

Of course there have been whimpers of Bailey possibly being coveted by other teams and there are some out there who think the Reds should go ahead and trade him since he's balked at signing a long-term deal. If he were to be traded, obviously Cincinnati would need another arm to fill his spot in the rotation and perhaps that would open up the possibility of bringing Bronson Arroyo back.

The Reds would love to acquire some sort of a worthwhile outfielder, whether it be a center fielder who is both competent in the field and leading off at the plate or a left fielder who can hit the ball hard. If they can come up with a center fielder, doing so would allow Hamilton to spend a little more time developing at Triple-A Louisville, which would probably be a plus. If not, it seems the Reds are going to have to be comfortable with Hamilton as the Opening Day center fielder.

"Sign me!" -unconfirmed quote by Berry
As far as the free agent outfielders go, signing any of the free agents, less Choo, would be nothing more than taking a flyer on a player who would likely only fill a backup role. One name that quite intrigues me at this point is Quintin Berry. He's 29 years old and can play any position in the outfield, but has very little experience. He played 94 games in 2012 with Detroit and hit .258/.330/.354 with two home runs, 29 RBI, and 25 steals. In 2013, he hit .625/.667/1.000, but he played only 13 games in the majors, taking eight at-bats. He's not arbitration-eligible until 2016, so a team would have some control over him. I'm not sure what he's looking for as far as a contract and I don't know what it would take to sign him, but it can't be too much. He could play center and let Hamilton start the year at Louisville. The only problem is that since he's far from proven as a player, there's no telling what you might get from him, so you might be better off just going with Hamilton from the get-go and re-signing a guy like Xavier Paul or Derrick Robinson or perhaps signing the crafty veteran Juan Pierre to fill out the roster.

On the other hand, maybe the Reds really are comfortable with Hamilton in center field and are more concerned with finding another quality bat for the bench who can play a little of both the infield and outfield. They can always use Frazier pretty much anywhere if it really came down to it. That might leave the possibility open of signing an old veteran like Kevin Youkilis or Michael Young if they would accept their role on the team. I kind of doubt it. Youkilis is from Cincinnati though, so maybe he would sign a light deal to play in his hometown as a backup. Where would he play though? Back up first? Votto hardly ever take a rest. Back up third? Hannahan already has that covered.

The other free agents who could serve as backup infielders just plain suck. Throw them all in a hat and pick one random name and he will suck during the 2014 season and he will suck after the 2014 season. He might not suck as much as Cesar Izturis did, but there's also the slight chance that he sucks more. I speculated yesterday that Walt may have explored the possibility of acquiring former Colorado player Jonathan Herrera, who could have served in a utility role.

Overall, there just aren't many options for the Reds right now as far as improving the 2014 version of the team through free agency. This is why I think there will be at least one significant trade between now and spring training. I don't think it will involve Bailey though. He will be in a Reds uniform until at least the trade deadline, depending on how the season is going at that point. Maybe all the Reds need is a change in atmosphere that is coming with new manager Bryan Price. Adding players is certainly no guarantee that a team will win. When the Reds acquire Choo last winter, we all thought their offense was going to be unstoppable with a real leadoff hitter. That was not exactly the case.

Anyways, I'm thinking of trying out for a roster spot myself. Other than that, all we can do is wait and see what Walt has up his sleeve. Go Redlegs.

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