The free agency flurry is just beginning and the Reds should be in the mix on at least a few names. The GM meetings are going on right now so the first talks of potential trades will be going down. The Reds have a few names on their list. Players that they would like to retain (Ludwick and co) and others that will be free agents that are attractive to bring aboard.
So rather than sitting here and trying to predict what the Reds will do this offseason, this sounds a little more fun: Imagine that they gave YOU the keys to this machine. What would you do to improve the club and get ready for 2013? Don’t say Josh Hamilton unless you plan on getting real creative. You can comment here or even better: write up a blog post and I will feature it on redsneck. I know…it’s everything that you’ve ever wanted. I will have a major award for the person whose off season plan is the most accurate come spring time!
But it’s time for me to give you mine first.
I am Walk Jocketty. I just finished a season where my team won the division title and 97 games. I have my mvp 1st baseman and my gold glove 2nd baseman signed for the next several years. I have retained my manager. This is a rock solid base to start a 2013 club with. So what are my holes/concerns?
Starting Pitching: My staff was the only one in the league to use 5 starters all season long. It was a fantastic performance by these guys and also a lot of luck keeping everyone healthy. Cueto did very well. Latos showed up after early struggles to prove himself as a #2. Arroyo was the Arroyo of old (workhorse) and Homer had a breakout year (finally say some people). Mike Leake was less than stellar. But Mike Leake has been very good in short showings. I would like Leake to have the chance at the 5 spot, but I want competition for him. Tony Cingrani will provide some of that competition, but I want the $30 million dollar man competing for that job as well next spring. Aroldis Chapman needs to be a starter for this club. It is a difficult argument as to where he is more effective: starter vs closer. But to me, he’s a starter and that’s where he belongs. Let’s stretch him out and finally see what he can do this spring. He won the job this past season but the Reds were forced to get creative when injuries hit. I expect the Reds to resign Jonathon Broxton.
Closer: With Chapman moving to the starting role, that leaves a big gap at the back end. The Reds have Madson and Broxton in their sights. Broxton made $4million in 2012. He showed that he still has a little left in the tank. He converted 27 of 33 saves in 2012, but only 4 of 6 for Cincinnati. He will certainly not be as effective as Chapman, but a good option and perhaps at a good value if they can sign him to a 2 year $6 million deal. Madson is coming off of a contract of $8 million for 1 year with the Reds (declined option) where he never threw a pitch. After an off season of injury, the Reds could get him at a value as well. I can see the Reds making a run at one of these guys, but not both.
Outfield: The Reds would love to have Ryan Ludwick back. But it’s going to cost them. After a strong come back season, Ludwick will be looking for a 2-3 year deal in the $20-25 million range (total guess there). That might be a little steep for the Reds and it would certainly be a gamble. The Reds need a big bat in the lineup to protect Votto and to separate Votto from Bruce. Ludwick is known here and he loves it here. There aren’t a lot of other options out there for the “big righty bat” category. So the “brotha” will likely get a significant offer. Hopefully he loves it here enough to give Cincinnati a good consideration. As far as the center field/leadoff hitter goes, Angel Pagan will be the best option. There is another significant contract to spend on but a run at him would answer a lot of questions. Leadoff hitter….Switch hitter…veteran with playoff experience… It could be worth the contract if the Reds can swing it. Drew Stubbs has had 4 full seasons to impress and has declined in every year. He will be a solid option as a 4th outfielder. Some say trade him, but the market value is so low that they might as well keep him. Another name could be Ichiro Suzuki. He is favored to be resigned by the Yankees on a short deal. But if that goes south, he might be convinced to come to the midwest and play for the Redlegs. The guy can still hit and would be a great OBP guy to hit leadoff. The contract could be more attractive to the Reds if they indeed resign Ludwick. So I expect the Reds to get Ludwick back on a 2 year deal with an option in year 3 and to make a minimal addition to centerfield. It could be someone like Ichiro on a 1 year deal. I would love to have Pagan, but it’s not in the cards with the other contracts hitting.
BENCH: Cairo is gone. Valdez should be gone. I would LOVE to see Scott Rolen come back and be the Miguel Cairo for us in 2013 that Miggy was in 2010. Veteran presence off the bench. Solid defender. Rest for Frazier and Votto one game a week each. But I don’t know if he would do that. It’s difficult for someone who was an All Star to swallow that pill and accept that they are now the backup style player. I expect Rolen to retire and the Reds to fill their bench with a couple value veteran signings.
So my not so bold predictions are that the Reds resign Ryan Ludwick and a closer (probably Broxton). Chapman will start. Leake could be the long reliever. I might be leaving something else out, so why don’t you tell me? Submit your offseason keys and predictions. You could be on redsneck.