Which Free Agents Could the Reds Pursue?


Place emphasis on “could”.

A short time ago, it was reported that the Cincinnati Reds might not be big players within the free agent world. Usually, the Reds organization doesn’t get into the high price, high profile guys. Sure, they have dabbled within it in the past. Considering the amount of monies the Reds will be allocating to raises for its current players, that high dollar guy may not be in the cards for the Good Guys this off-season.

Over on MLB Trade Rumors, Tim Dierkes has a listing of the top 50 free agents available and the team he thinks will land that player. Let’s go over those on this list that Dierkes has either going to the Reds, staying with the Reds or departing Cincinnati.

(Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

26. Ryan Ludwick – Reds

Some Reds fans would love to Ludwick back out in left field. There are a couple of potential drawbacks. One would be the deal in which Ludwick would return to the Queen City. Speculation is that the Reds would offer no more than a two-year deal. Ludwick might be looking for a third year, and I can say that I don’t blame him.

He can look at what Michael Cuddyer got from the Colorado Rockies (3 years, $31.5MM), Josh Willingham received from the Minnesota Twins (3 years, $21MM), and Jason Kubel signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2 years, $16MM with a team option for a third year), and see there is a demand. The Reds may not be able to afford such a deal. With those raises I spoke of earlier, there just might not be a two-year, $14MM deal floating on the Ohio River.

Here’s where the other drawback comes into play. Ludwick will be 35 midway through next season. At the start of 2013, Cuddyer will be 34, Kubel will stand at 30, and Willingham hits 34 as well. There could be the question of the same production, but of the three used for this comparison, Willingham did have the best overall offensive season. Just ask Aroldis Chapman about Willingham.

The concerns of age are genuine, yet, Ludwick was such an integral piece of the 2012 puzzle, I can see him staying for another two years. This would provide time to develop a couple of guys within the system, too.

The one aspect that is a substantial benefit: Ludwick is great in the clubhouse. With the potential retirement of Scott Rolen and unknown status of Miguel Cairo, Dusty needs another general.

36. Ryan Madson – Tigers

I can’t say this prediction surprised me as it makes all the sense in the world. Madson is a client of Scott Boras. So is Prince Fielder. I don’t believe I need to expound on this anymore…but I will.

Despite coming off Tommy John surgery, Madson might be seeking a multi-year deal, or at the least, another deal similar to what he got with the Reds. He does have a couple of things to prove: he’s healthy and still able to close out games.

I don’t rule out the possibility the Reds re-signing Madson either. You’ll see why when you read the next couple of names.

(Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE)

44. Jose Valverde – Reds

I saw this and felt a little depressed. This was prior to reading what Diekes had written. Then I felt a little better. A little. Dierkes has a condition attached to Valverde’s mention: Aroldis Chapman moves to the starting rotation. I’ve previously been a proponent of Chapman being a member of the starting rotation, so this piqued my interest.

A point Dierkes makes is that Papa Grande does register with MLB executives. That can go a long way to even securing a one-year deal that either has an option for a second or loaded with incentives.

One down note is that Valverde is coming off his worst season since becoming a full-fledged closer. We saw a little more of Phil Coke in that role as the post-season progressed. Plus, I find Valverde’s antics excessive and tiresome regardless of their intended purpose.

45. Jonathan Broxton – Rangers

Some Reds fans may cringe at the thought of Brox returning. Dierkes doesn’t think he will.

Broxton converted only 4 of 6 save opportunities as a Red, but he was 23 of 27 for the Royals prior to the trade which brought to Cincy. Securing a closer’s role might not be in his future as most teams either have one or have other alternatives and Broxton is not considered as being among those alternatives.

The Rangers provide a chance for Broxton to be the 8th inning guy with Texas having Joe Nathan. He could have the same, at least, in Cincinnati. There are many things that have to shake out though. Here’s where it can get kind of convoluted…

Let’s say the Reds will move forward and make the move to put Chapman in the starting rotation. I know, I know. Play along here. If such a commitment is made, there is an “opening” for the Reds closer’s role. You have three guys (Madson, Valverde and Broxton) that have MLB closer experience.

This is the benefit of having Chapman on the roster. We know he can close. He did fare well as a starter this past spring training. He can setup. Chapman can literally do it all. You have to find him a role…and stay with it.

And let’s not forget about Nick Masset in this mix…although I’m guessing some of you might want to do so. Masset can be, when he’s on his game, among the best setup guys in the game. Masset’s health could play a huge role in which direction the Reds decide to pursue.

For your entertainment purposes, here’s a few links which you wish to bookmark:

MLB Trade Rumors list of free agents and free agent tracker.
Maury Brown’s free agent tracking list on Biz of Baseball.