Walt Jocketty, Dusty Baker and the Reds’ front office will be faced with several important questions this offseason. The decisions they make will likely impact the future of this team well beyond the 2012 season. Today we will look at some of the choices the Reds’ front office will have to make before spring 2012.
Brandon Phillips: Face of the Franchise
Perhaps the most important decision the Reds will make this offseason will be what to do with Brandon Phillips. The Reds have 3 options here: pick up his $12 million option for 2012, pay him the $1 million buyout and let him walk, or sign him to a multi-year extension. With Phillips, there is so much to like. His defense is second-to-none, he is an above-average hitter, and he plays the game with enthusiasm. Off the field, BP is a marketing goldmine. He participates in the Reds Caravan every year, he interacts with fans on twitter, and he signs more autographs than any athlete I can remember.
So… Just give Brandon a big extension right?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. BP will be 31 years old before the 2012 All Star game. His power and speed have declined steadily since 2007. And most importantly, the Reds don’t have the kind of payroll to make a big-money mistake. If Phillips is extended to a multi-year deal, the Reds run a significant risk. Having said that, can you let him walk?
My call: Pick up the option for 2012
Votto, Alonso: Two Bats, One Position
It appears as though the Reds have given up on Yonder Alonso playing left field. It would be nice to keep 2010 MVP Joey Votto at first-base and place Alonso over yonder at third-base, but his ability to play third is a big question mark. Based on Alonso’s AAA numbers and his success at the MLB level (albeit brief), all indications are that Yonder has nothing left to learn in the minor leagues.
If we assume that Alonso’s defensive ability is limited to first base, the Reds are stuck in a difficult situation. They could try to trade Alonso, but it is unlikely they can get equal return, unless he is part of some larger package. Most “experts” think it is unlikely that Votto will be here after his contract expires in 2013. If the Reds explore trading Votto they would likely get a something great in return, but trading your best player is a tough pill to swallow.
My call: Package Alonso with other prospect(s) in a trade for a top-of-rotation pitcher.
Left Field: Look Within
With every other position on the field presumably filled for 2012, left field remains a question. The Reds have some options within the organization, though they are unproven. Chris Heisey has impressed at times, but it isn’t clear if he can be a “difference maker” at the plate. Dave Sappelt is intriguing as well, with the possibility of becoming a solid-to-good MLB leadoff hitter. Likewise, Todd Frazier can play multiple positions, including left field, and provides a serviceable bat.
While all 3 of the “in house” options have promise, none of them appear to be the run producing, All Star caliber hitters that other NL Central rivals have in left field. The Reds may decide to “go big,” by looking outside the organization via trade or free agency. Of course, that would cost money (and possibly prospects).
My call: Know when to hold ‘em. Let the youngsters compete for the job.
Follow me on twitter – @CKFreshness