Winter Meetings: Cincinnati Reds Inactivity Should not Be a Surprise

If you’re a Reds fan that populates Twitter, I’m sure you’ve observed tweets noting the lack of activity from the organization. Honestly, we shouldn’t be surprised nothing major was done. Yes, there will be those saying that GM Walt Jocketty sat on his hands while other division rivals made moves to improve their rosters. We can go over the laundry list of transactions those teams have made, but all that might do is either raise your blood pressure or have you shaking your head.

And neither of those are pleasant.

One thing that may not have helped the cause was the “report” stating the Reds needed to trim about $17M in payroll. Some rival general managers may have viewed that as the Reds willing to sell low on a few of their players such as Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Aroldis Chapman. If a rival GM went to meet with Jocketty and that person had in mind a certain trade and tried to “low ball” the Reds, it likely could make negotiations drag longer than necessary. And that’s provided the Reds were even interested in trading the player(s) mentioned by their rivals.

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For the past two seasons, the Reds Opening Day payroll has been north of $100M. I, for one, thought this would not occur for a few more years (possibly this year being the first), but with the team that had been put on the field, it was nice to know that some attempts had been made to bring winning baseball back to Cincinnati. Now, we seemed to have run upon a speed bump. Some may call it a mountain. That nasty word: payroll. Seems to have the club a little strapped, doesn’t it?

We can take a step back and revisit a couple of deals of the recent past and opine what the organization could have done differently.

Scratch your head over the Joey Votto contract (not so much the money, while it does play a small role in the now, but the length grabs your immediate attention.). Still be amazed at the deal given to Homer Bailey (Could that money have been used for the likes of Cueto, Latos or Leake?). Wonder if the Reds did the right thing in giving Brandon Phillips his money (He is marketable on a national scale, no question, but was that the reason?).

That darn hindsight. Sure, we’d like to think those deals (and maybe a couple of others) were handled differently. We can toss Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton into the mix here. Both were inked to new contracts with the possibility of being the team’s closer. Granted, both in a different time of sorts, but all the while, Chapman began and now continues to steamroll teams in the 9th inning. Brox is gone and outside of his first season as a Red, Marshall has dealt with numerous injuries and setbacks.

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  • But because nothing major was completed does not mean nothing was accomplished. Sure looks that way on paper, but it seriously doesn’t. As Jocketty said in Mark Sheldon’s piece for MLB.com, he is “waiting to hear back from several others”. Clubs and agents that have yet to return calls. That could be good news. Then again, that could also mean that those individuals are not interested. But I will lean in the positive direction, at least for the short-term.

    Why? There’s always a glint of hope, isn’t there?

    Think about this for a minute. You’re a free agent and the Reds are a team that sparks your interest. Then, you hear of the payroll dilemma. Would that be an enticement to get you in a Reds uniform? If you’re wanting a paycheck, sure. But say you want some assurance that the team will contend. How likely would you, as a player, instruct your agent to dial-up Walt?

    Now for those still thinking that since the Winter Meetings are almost over and the Reds did nothing, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Trades and free agents signings can still happen outside of the Winter Meetings. Not saying any will happen, but the possibility remains.

    UPDATE #1: And of course I lay this all out there and seems the deals are starting to flow. Alfredo Simon has reportedly been dealt to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for RHP Jonathon Crawford and INF Eugenio Suarez. There are also reports that Latos will be heading to the Miami Marlins, but the return has not yet be disclosed.

    UPDATE #2: In the trade that sent Latos to the Miami Marlins, the Reds received RHP Anthony DeSclafani and C Chad Wallach. To get reaction and analysis of both trades, get Jesse’s take on the Simon deal and Latos deal.