Reds and Free Agency: Low Risk, High Reward?


Wouldn’t it be a great thing if the Reds could land someone that can produce in the way Ryan Ludwick did last season? I mean, in the end, Ludwick seemingly returned to his “former self” for around $3MM ($2MM base salary, $500k buyout, bonuses received).

If only that same magic could be duplicated…

Know what, it is possible. Think about this. The Reds were in hot pursuit of Josh Willingham. When he decided to head to Minnesota, the Reds leaned toward Ludwick. In the end (and it might not be “the end”), it was a win-win situation. The Reds had a left fielder, albeit for possibly only one season, and Ludwick re-established his game.

Low risk, high reward defined.

Are they any other potential Ludwick’s out there? Sure. Here’s six guys that could, and I want to stress could, have a bounce back season as a Red. I’m not suggesting in any manner that the Reds definitely bring any of these guys in, but I’m also leaving the door ajar. All have the good and the bad, but, when productive, they can enhance the Reds roster.

Freddy Sanchez – Sanchez won the NL batting title in 2006 with a .344 batting average and led the league in doubles (53). He is also a three-time All-Star.

With Sanchez, it’s only the last two seasons that have been interrupted. In 2011, he dislocated his shoulder diving for a Brandon Phillips grounder. He would later require surgery. Last season, Sanchez required back surgery and never played in an MLB game. Aside from those injuries, Sanchez doesn’t have an extensive injury history.

He doesn’t strikeout at an extremely high rate (highest was 15.5% in ’09) and he has played third base although he has been exclusively at second base since 2007.

Sanchez will be 35 in December. With having third base in his background, Sanchez could be a back-up at both 2B and 3B, maybe even find the means to start at 3B and shift Todd Frazier to left field. Yes, that is provided Ludwick goes elsewhere. He would be an ideal #2 hitter.

Just gotta find that lead-off guy.

(David Richard-US PRESSWIRE)

Grady Sizemore – I have seen Sizemore’s name mentioned on more than one occasion. While Sanchez doesn’t own an extensive injury history, Sizemore does.

2009: elbow surgery, sports hernia surgery
2010: microfracture surgery on left knee
2011: second sports hernia surgery, injury to right knee
2012: back surgery and recurring issues with right knee; missed entire season

When Sizemore was healthy, he was arguably one of baseball’s most exciting and best players. Some speculation was that Sizemore plays the game too hard and that has led to all the injuries he has suffered. He hasn’t played more than 100 games since 2009.

The three-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner and Silver Slugger is only 30. Sizemore received $5MM last season. Don’t see any team willing give him near that much for 2013.

Mark DeRosa – Talk about defensive flexibility, DeRosa has it. He’s played every position in his day except center field, catcher and pitcher. One aspect of DeRosa that cannot be overstated is that despite his injuries this past season, DeRosa was a mentor to some of the younger players on that Nationals roster. He could, in essence, replace a part of the potnetial departing leadership of Scott Rolen and Miguel Cairo.

Those injuries? He had surgery in 2009 on his wrist. It was discovered in 2010 that his ’09 surgery was an utter failure and DeRosa would play in only 26 games in 2010. During an at-bat in 2011, he re-injured the same wrist, but this time, a torn tendon was revealed. That did not deter the Nats from bringing DeRosa into their clubhouse.

Early last season, DeRosa suffered an oblique strain and was a non-participant for the majority of the season. Still, and I will mention again, he was important part of the Nats roster.

Jason Bay – Remember the bit about Sizemore and when he’s healthy? Same can be said about Bay. Another former All-Star (three times) and Silver Slugger (’09) on the market. What could Bay appealing to many teams is that he will receive all monies due him from the Mets.

Bay’s not looking for money, but merely a chance.

It was suggested that the Reds could be a perfect fit for Bay, but I’m not totally on board with the reasoning.

The last three years have to be frustrating for Bay. If you haven’t seen the video of his play from the 2010 season that led to his concussion, it’s not pretty by any means. In fact, it’s a bit frightening.

I wonder how many times that’s been viewed since Bay’s release?

But that wasn’t the end of the line for Bay and injuries. In 2011, he suffered a rib injury, but managed to play in 123 games. Wasn’t one of his better seasons either as Bay posted a triple slash of .245/.329/.374 with only 12 HR and 57 RBI.

2012 was another year and another rib injury. This time, Bay broke a rib while attempting a catch against the San Francisco Giants. This would lead to more missed time and more diminished returns for the Mets. Last season, Bay appeared in only 70 games.

So why take a chance on Bay? If all he wants is a chance for redemption, why not, I say.

Nyjer Morgan – Look at the plus side first.

Morgan can play all three outfield positions. He has a successful history batting at the top of the lineup (.283/.347/.361). He is a well above average defensive center fielder. He might not have the arm of Drew Stubbs, but he can cover as much ground. See for yourself…

I was at that game. Simply astounding…

The negatives? You know some of them. The multiple alter egos (Tony Plush, Tony Gumbo) might not be a fit for the clubhouse. Morgan also has a history of, shall we say, questionable decisions in regards to “going after” opposing players. He will get under your skin in many ways. Morgan is undoubtedly coming off his worst offensive season.

No one can question that Morgan has the ability. It’s how he uses that ability.

Casey McGehee – The Brewers grew disenchanted with McGehee following a less than spectacular 2011 season. So much so that the Brew Crew signed free agent Aramis Ramirez prior to 2012. One of the best signs for this past season as Ramirez was arguably robbed of a Silver Slugger. The Brewers shipped McGehee to Pittsburgh…who later sent him to the Yankees.

McGehee emerged in the 2009 season and built off that with a successful 2010 campaign. In those two years, he compiled a slash of .291/.346/.477 with 39 HR and 170 RBI including driving in over 100 runs in 2010. As you now know, the wheels fell off that wagon.

2012 was even more of a disaster for McGehee, and that could make him more than willing to take a minimal deal. Having the ability to play third and first can’t hurt. He’s no Gold Glover at third.

I am in no way suggesting that any of these players will have the season we recently saw from Ryan Ludwick. That being said, it cannot be completely ruled out either.

Sometimes, players on a one-year, gotta prove myself deal are a good fit.