On the Eve of the Winter Meetings

A couple of years ago, the baseball world was sent on its collective ear when an announcement was made that the Washington Nationals had inked Jayson Werth to what many called an absolutely obscene deal. Did anyone see Werth getting a deal for seven years and $126MM?

No one did. Is it likely we see a similar occurrence tonight? Not likely, but considering Werth’s agent, Scott Boras, also represents free agent outfielder Michael Bourn, who knows.

Surely no one will give Bourn in the neighborhood of what Werth got, right? Well, Zack Greinke hopes you’re wrong though.

Well, the Reds won’t be doing so.

But I got other things here.

Apr 24, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Ludwick rounds third base after hitting a home run during the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants at Great American Ballpark. The Reds defeated the Giants 9-2. (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

Like, why is everyone (okay, not everyone) so hellbent on either re-signing Ryan Ludwick or finding another left fielder? Sure, there are some interesting possibilities if the Reds can’t bring Ludwick back, but couldn’t the Reds also consider what’s available on the third base market…other than Kevin Youkilis? I mean no disrespect to Youk, but I think his money demands may be too high.

It’s obvious why I mention this. We all know Todd Frazier, even though he’s been preparing for next season to play third base, can also play left field. There are also a couple of intriguing names there as well.

Left field – I see three tiers of players: the “too expensive”, the “on the edge of being too expensive”, and “the cheap options”.

“Too expensive”

Nick Swisher would surely not be within the Reds normal financial constraints. Could say the same about his Yankee teammate Ichiro Suzuki, although if you have a shot at one, I would think it would be Ichiro.  Not saying it could get done by any means.  Same could be said for the Reds pursuing Youk.

“On the edge…”

Ludwick might fit this label…along with Cody Ross, Delmon Young and maybe even (if you want him to play left field) Shane Victorino.

“…cheap”

Remember the bargain Ludwick was last off-season? Well, it is possible the Reds could catch lightning in a bottle again? The other day in his chat, John Fay mentioned former Red Austin Kearns. Found that mention a little intriguing although I would think if Kearns is brought in, it would not be to start. That would have platoon written all over it.

Might not have to be that way if Nate McLouth is considered. Granted, the Reds would lack a legit clean-up guy if McLouth is signed.

Could the Reds find lightning in a bottle two years in a row? Hard to say that Juan Rivera would be that bolt of lightning. Rivera hasn’t done a whole lot since being traded by the Angels to the Blue Jays in January 2011. His year and a half as a Dodger would do little to strike fear into any pitcher. Appears his swing has left him.

Sound familiar? Not that I’m advocating signing Rivera, only stating it is a tad similar to Ludwick’s.

A couple of third baseman were recently non-tendered: Mark Reynolds and Ian Stewart. I know what you’re thinking. Reynolds strikes out more than Drew Stubbs (true) and Stewart hasn’t done anything in years (also true). Reynolds can; however, be a bat to plug in between Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. He’s by far a defensive wizard either. Last season represented the first time in his career where Reynolds had a strike out rate lower than 30%.

Stewart was to be somewhat a reclamation project by the Cubs. Instead, he played in only 55 games (wrist injury) and manufactured a triple slash of .201/.292/.335. The wrist had bothered Stewart for a substantial time frame.

The Reds could also look to add bench players (middle and corner infield) and bullpen help (lefty arm preferable).

I heard that the Reds don’t need a whole lot outside of addressing the lead-off issue.  Not true at all.  The bench was a weakness last season and needs upgraded.  With the possible retirement of Scott Rolen and unknown of Miguel Cairo, there’s one spot and, most likely, two.

Jul 18, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Rolen makes a play to put out the Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton (not pictured) during the first inning at Great American Ball Park. (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

The Rolen “situation”

If Scott Rolen does return and the Reds re-sign him, I can see Frazier starting the 2013 season in left field especially if there is no Ludwick around.  In fact, this could be a decent possibility. Not my preferences, however.

Fact is, the Reds offense needs improvement.  Keeping Rolen around doesn’t appear to be the answer.  The only way that works is if the Rolen from the first half of 2010 reappears. I’m skeptical of that happens, too.

Watch who the Reds talk to during these meetings. Could give you some indications of Rolen’s future. If the Reds talk to no corner infielders or third basemen, there is a chance Rolen will return or he has at least told GM Walt Jocketty that he is ready to return.

One last thing…

If the Reds do nothing during the Winter Meetings, don’t get so uptight. The teams that “won” these meetings last year, didn’t fare so well in 2012. We all know the Marlins had the “fire sale” after finishing in last place in the NL East and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim failed to make the playoffs.

Topics: 2012 Winter Meetings, Cincinnati Reds

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