Free Agent Frenzy…Or Not?

Thought I would take a small break from the trade analysis and talk a bit about something else: free agents. There is a view that free agents aren’t readily willing to come to Cincinnati. If I’m a power bat, I want nothing more than to play half of my games at Great American. If I’m a pitcher, it would be a harder sell. That could be why the Reds have been unable to lure good arms.

Looking at the Walt years and how free agents have come to Cincinnati reveals more than people normally verbalize or flat out refuse to recognize. Follow along here.

I am in the middle of looking at the many of the trades Jocketty has made since taking over as the Reds GM. It’s no secret that the Reds are typically not big players within the free agent market, but here have been signings (like the trades) that have helped the Reds.

I’m not going to list every free agent signing as that list is a little longer than you think. The number of “big names” isn’t there, but the quantity isn’t so low either.

Let’s go back to December 12, 2008, a little over three years ago. Walt Jocketty makes an announcement that the Reds have signed free agent relief pitcher Arthur Rhodes. Terms are two years for a total of $4 million. Rhodes was one that could bolster the pen which needed some help. As I look back, this signing should have been a very good sign for all Reds fans.

Not only did Rhodes perform well during his time in Cincinnati, a smaller series of signings of players that has solid Cincy years would follow: Laynce Nix and Jonny Gomes, re-signing of both of those players plus a re-signing of Corky Miller, whose trade I will look at over the next week. An unnoticeable nucleus was developing to go along with the likes of Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce.

Enter Orlando Cabrera, Miguel Cairo and the young Cuban sensation known as Aroldis Chapaman. If you’re keeping track, that’s seven free agents, either from the market or Jocketty re-signed. With the exception of Chapman and maybe even Rhodes, other teams seemingly had doubts of their value. The Reds front office and Jocketty took the chance on those individuals.

The two other trades that helped, the deals for Scott Rolen and Ramon Hernandez. So let’s quickly review here. That’s now nine players that were all in some fashion a member of the 2010 NL Central champs. Yet, many are quick to deflect the praise onto Wayne Krivsky and Dan O’Brien for that season’s success. No question that some of “their players” were extrememly instrumental for that 2010 season that now seems so long ago, but why do we still persist on depriving Walt of his due?

I cannot do this without acknowledging at least four deals/signings that did not work in the Reds favor: Aaron Miles, Russ Springer, Jim Edmonds and Jason Isringhausen.

And you may ask yourself if I’m becoming a Jocketty loyalist or apologist based on this one post. I’m neither. I have been critical of the perceived lack of business transactions and will continue to do so. I don’t have him on my Christmas card list and I know I’m not on his. That being said, I’m a little alarmed at the trade he made yesterday…but I’m not surprised and the haul the Padres received either.

The Reds may now become a little more active within free agent circles since an arm has been added to the roster. Left field, utility, leadoff: Walt has avenues in which he can look.

Just don’t be too quick to dismiss Walt’s role as some fans have done. Whenever it comes to making a trade, it takes two. When it comes to signing a free agent, it takes three: Walt, the player and the agent.

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