Don’t look for the Reds making big moves in free agency.
The baseball pundits have universally agreed that the Cincinnati Reds will not be in the running for re-signing their two top free agents: Shin-Soo Choo and Bronson Arroyo. Personally, I wouldn’t be shocked if neither returned as well.
MLB Trade Rumors released their list of top 50 free agents along with a prediction of where each will play in 2014. You shouldn’t be surprised that none of the top 50 are viewed as donning a Reds uniform next season. For information purposes, MLBTR pegs Choo as heading to Detroit (potentially creating an outfield of Choo, Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter) and Arroyo becoming a Met.
Here’s a quick and dirty look at the Reds in 2014:
Infield: Ryan Hanigan (C), Devin Mesoraco (C), Joey Votto (1B), Brandon Phillips (2B), Zack Cozart (SS), Todd Frazier (3B), Jack Hannahan (UT)
Outfield: Ryan Ludwick (LF), Billy Hamilton (CF), Jay Bruce (RF), Chris Heisey (OF), Xavier Paul (OF)
Starters: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani
Relievers: Aroldis Chapman, Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall, Sam LeCure, Logan Ondrusek, Alfredo Simon, J.J. Hoover
There is something missing here: middle infielder. What? A departure of Cesar Izturis creates a void? Has anyone ever spouted such nonsense? *Rolls eyes*
If the Reds make any significant move(s) in free agency, and I honestly doubt they do, it will be due to a trade that sends some coin out of the Queen City. And it will have to be significant coin unless the team’s wallet is once again opened. I’m not suggesting it should either. Will we see another season with a payroll in excess of $100MM? Bringing back Choo and/or Arroyo would certainly put it over that figure.
With Cincy already committed to approximately $79.4MM in payroll for the 2014 season (according to Cot’s), adding big contracts is a highly unlikely scenario. This includes Votto taking a $5MM ($7MM if you include the signing bonus from his previous contract) pay cut!
You have to also consider the arbitration raises in store for Leake, Bailey, Heisey, Hanigan, Simon, LeCure and Paul. Leake and Bailey will get nice-sized raises. Simon and LeCure should see decent raises as well. Of course, this is provided all of these guys listed are tendered.
On paper, it looks like the Reds could be strapped for bills as they were at last season’s trade deadline.