Cincinnati Reds: Free Agents to Consider Signing

With the Winter Meetings a month away, let’s start by being really honest with ourselves. The Cincinnati Reds are in the best division in baseball and most likely will not compete for the division title until 2017 at the earliest. That being said, there are two wild card spots up for grabs and with the core the Reds have coming back, a few additions could help them a lot! Expectations should be low, but new GM Dick Williams predicts an active Winter Meetings for his franchise. Excluding trades and money exchanging hands, I have four free agents that make sense for the Redlegs to target.

SP Doug Fister

BOOM! Raising some eyebrows right off the bat, but hear me out. Doug Fister had a very down year last season with the Nationals and was eventually moved to the bullpen. Those issues make him affordable. Sports Illustrated senior writer Ben Reiter ranks Fister 38th on his top-50 free agents list. The Reds will have all young arms in the rotation and bullpen and need a veteran arm in there to work with them. Yes, Homer Bailey is coming back, but will be on an innings limit and nothing is for sure when you come back from Tommy John surgery. A two-year deal with an option for a third benefits both sides. He can stay if they are competitive and could also be moved if things go south. Fister is 31 years old and has 65 wins since his rookie season in 2009.

OF Alex Rios

Unranked by almost all experts in their top free agents of 2015, Alex Rios will be entering his age-35 season. The thought process on this is that Eugenio Suarez is going to get the nod in left field on opening day. If he cannot handle it, Rios is an affordable option that would fit the team and the ballpark. He is a two-time All-Star and a lifetime .277 hitter. Rios has played in rather large ballparks most of his career for the White Sox and Blue Jays. GM Williams could hope for a jump in power numbers while helping the team get top outfield prospect Jesse Winker ready bring up sometime in 2016.

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RP Ross Detwiler

The Reds need bullpen help, no ifs, ands or buts about it. Looking at all the possibilities, Ross Detwiler is easily the least sexy, but might be the best fit. A failed starter in Washington, Detwiler has accepted his role as a bullpen arm and could be the next Wade Davis if he plays his cards right. At age 29, the lefty is a former first round pick in 2007 and was widely expected to be a future ace early on in his career. A bad season in 2015 that saw Detwiler traded to the Rangers, then released and eventually signed by the Braves, makes him a viable cheap option to be in Cincinnati’s bullpen. Bryan Price is an excellent pitching guru and could work some magic and get his career back on track.

Utility John Jaso

Oh, how I love John Jaso! Understanding that Ben Zobrist is going to get more money than he should, Jaso is the next best option. Jaso is known around the league as a “sabremetric darling” having boasted an on-base percentage of .380 or higher in 3 of his last 4 seasons. In just 70 games in 2015 for the Rays, Jaso hit .286 with an OPS of .839 while catching, playing left & right field and first base. ranks the utility player No. 45 in their top 50 free agents. It would not hurt my feelings to see a three or four-year deal to back up Devin Mesoraco, Joey Votto at first and play left. This would be my favorite option of these four for the Reds to pursue.

Next: Reds promote Dick Williams to GM, replacing Jocketty

The Winter Meetings will be intriguing for Reds fans as they have several trade pieces and a ton of young arms. Williams is now running the show with Walt Jocketty as an advisor. All eyes will be on the new GM to see how he plays this pivotal offseason in the Reds rebuilding process.