Even though the market was thin, the Cincinnati Reds accomplished exactly what they had set out to do this off-season. Reds’ general manager, Walt Jocketty held his ground and waited for the precise moment to pull the trigger on the deals he needed.
You can be assured of the thinness of the market when a bidding war breaks out for the likes of third baseman Jack Hannahan. The Reds did need a reserve infielder since Scott Rolen was retiring and the Reds did not choose to pick up the options for Wilson Valdez or Miguel Cairo.
Some of the other franchises, most from big markets, took aim at the low-hanging fruit, thus leaving the rest for bargain hunters and teams who are financially challenged.
Of course the Reds are a small market organization and are financially challenged. Jocketty is considered by many to be one of the best bargain hunters in the land.
He structured a deal with reliever Jonathan Broxton which allowed Aroldis Chapman to be moved to the starting rotation. It has always been the plan to have Chapman as a starting pitcher, although he ended the season in 2012 as arguably one of the best closers in the senior circuit.
(Table is courtesy of The Baseball Cube)
After Ryan Ludwick had declined his option for $5- million, internet rumors were rampant about the possibilities available. Should they trade Drew Stubbs for another center fielder (i.e., Dexter Fowler) and give Chris Heisey the chance in LF he deserved?
That deal did not eventuate because the Colorado Rockies were wanting Homer Bailey and the Reds were not prepared to throw him into the mix. Stubbs and starting pitcher Mike Leake were rumored to be part of a package that would include another Colorado player.
Ludwick and Jocketty began negotiating at a serious level. Ludwick wanted a three-year contract and the Reds were only offering two. Another team, believed to be the San Francisco Giants, had actually offered to pay Ludwick more than the Reds. Finally an agreement was reached and the Reds inked the rejuvenated left fielder to a two-year contract with a mutual option for a third year. The amount of the contract is $15- million for the two years.
The Reds had solved their pitching situation and now had Ludwick committed for two years. Now, it was time to focus on their quest for a center fielder and a leadoff batter.
Seemingly out of nowhere Jocketty fashioned a three-way deal with the Cleveland Indians and the Arizona Diamondbacks. That deal ultimately sent Stubbs to Cleveland, hot prospect Didi Gregorius to Arizona and brought right fielder Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati. Utility infielder Jason Donald was also sent to the Reds.
The original idea was to have Choo move to CF and bat first in the lineup. After much talk and consideration the consensus seemed to be that Jay Bruce would return to CF and Choo would stay in his accustomed spot in the corner. Both players are very good defensively and possess strong throwing arms.
Bruce came up with the Reds as a center fielder but was moved into the corner as Ken Griffey, Jr. was already embedded in CF.
After that deal was completed the Reds won the “jackpot” and signed Hannahan to a two-year, $4- million contract, thus satisfying every concern they had for the start of the 2013 campaign.
Even though Jocketty did not create shock waves or bring in a rainmaker, it must be said that he had a very successful and fruitful Hot Stove League.
How did the Reds do at the Winter Meetings?
- Great (43%, 47 Votes)
- Good (45%, 49 Votes)
- Not good (5%, 5 Votes)
- I could have done better (7%, 8 Votes)
Total Voters: 109