Cincinnati Reds Continue to Surprise with Moves

So a few months ago, some folks, myself included, lamented the fact that the Winter Meetings came and went and nothing was finalized to improve the Cincinnati Reds for the 2012 season. The discussion ranged from a light question of “where are the moves?” to “Jocketty’s asleep at the wheel again!” And while the lower end of the spectrum was far more reasonable than the upper echelon of complaints, neither was particularly invalid. Until they had done something, people were left only to wonder why they hadn’t.

Validity of that questioning aside, that era of inactivity seems to be so long ago that the reality has passed into myth. Cincinnati’s General Manager Walt Jocketty has managed to reach a deal with free agent reliever/closer Ryan Madson, the terms of which are reported to be in the neighborhood of 1-year/$8.5m, continuing an offseason of surprising and exciting moves.

And who’s to say, even now, that Jocketty’s ready to walk away from the buffet?

The question of “are they or aren’t they” involved in talks with Madson moved back and forth in ping pong fashion yesterday afternoon, with Jon Heyman reporting initially that the talks were in advanced stages before both John Fay and Mark Sheldon downplayed the rumors, just hours before the deal was reported to have finally been reached. Jocketty is notoriously tight lipped about moves so Heyman’s source probably came from Madson’s camp while Fay and Sheldon were left relying on someone from the Reds’ organization, causing the differing reports to both find their way into the public eye.

Regardless of the initial confusion, Madson will be the Reds’ closer for the 2012 season and while the price is high for their small market budget, it doesn’t have at least one of the traits Francisco Cordero was looking for in a contract: higher cost over multiple years. So for a relatively similar price, the Reds got the better pitcher, younger, better stuff, fewer meltdowns, albeit a little more likely to give up some hits. And to top off the deal, with no chance of them re-signing Cordero, when he signs elsewhere, they will be awarded a supplemental pick sandwiched between the first and second rounds of the draft.

The growing sentiment is that the $8.5 million they spent on Madson will preclude them from making any other moves, specifically for Left Field or a utility infielder. With Walt, that’s a really hard thing to say. The move to acquire both Mat Latos and Sean Marshall were relatively unmentioned up until they took place and certainly an agreement with Madson was being discounted as late in the process as yesterday afternoon. Now they will probably be out of the market for any outfielder with a large contract, but there is still chatter that the Rockies are looking to deal Seth Smith and while some big trading chips have already been moved by the Reds, names like Homer Bailey and Chris Heisey still find themselves on the roster. If the organization trusts that Aroldis Chapman can be a better starter than Bailey for the first half of the season and that Smith with a backup of Todd Frazier, then maybe Walt goes back up to the buffet line for dessert.

With a 1 year deal for Madson and currently 1 year left on Marshall’s deal, it looks like the next offseason will see a lot of similar activity in the attempt to rebuild the bullpen again, but for 2012, they’ve corrected the club’s two biggest weaknesses: starting pitching and relief. Certainly Walt didn’t listen to any Twitter chatter or blog comments when he set out to improve this team, but the complaints made initially have certainly been served a healthy and filling feast. Eat hearty Reds fans and enjoy the meal Walt’s already served, but maybe save room for seconds. Just in case.

Tags: Anaheim Angels Baseball Chris Heisey Cincinnati Reds Colorado Rockies Francisco Cordero Free Agents Homer Bailey John Fay Jon Heyman Mark Sheldon Mat Latos MLB Philadelphia Phillies Ryan Madson Sean Marshall Seth Smith Signings Todd Frazier Trades Walt Jocketty

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