© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
12/02/08 10:00 AM EST
Reds ready to let chips fall in Vegas
Jocketty to be on lookout for trades at upcoming Winter Meetings
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- To this point, it's been all quiet around the Reds' hot stove. If Cincinnati's offseason activity is going to jump-start, there's no better place for it to happen than next week at the annual Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, where the meetings run from Dec. 8-11.
Forget about "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." With hundreds of media members descending upon the scene and co-mingling with hundreds of baseball executives and agents, reports and rumors should be flowing outward about potential trades and signings all week.
Since the offseason began, the Reds' primary needs haven't changed -- nor has the method they'll use to try and fill them. General manager Walt Jocketty has been focused on trades first, free agents second.
"I think a lot more clubs are looking for trades," Jocketty said on Nov. 20. "Prices seem to be too high for free agents. I believe people are trying to protect what dollars they have to spend."
Jocketty and his staff will be hunkered down in the club's suite at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino talking to clubs and finding matches. A right-handed-hitting run producer still tops the list while there could also be attempts to land a catcher, leadoff hitter, shortstop, and possibly a left-handed starter.
Since Jeremy Affeldt departed to the Giants (two years, $8 million) as a free agent a couple of weeks ago, a veteran lefty reliever has also been added to the list. To this point, Affeldt has been the only major winter transaction involving a Red.
Then there is the matter of three Reds free agents that Jocketty is interested in bringing back -- relievers David Weathers and Mike Lincoln and utility player Jerry Hairston Jr. Talks have been ongoing with the agents of all three players and will be able to continue face-to-face next week.
Word leaked in reports last week that the Reds and White Sox have discussed making a trade that would bring outfielder Jermaine Dye to Cincinnati, possibly with fading pitching prospect Homer Bailey as part of the return to Chicago. Although 35, the righty-hitting Dye would fit the bill of someone the Reds are seeking. Last season, he batted .292 with 34 home runs, 96 RBIs and a .344 on-base percentage.
Dye will make $11.5 million in 2009 and has a $12 million mutual option for 2010, with a $1 million buyout. The White Sox are seeking young talent in return, including an outfielder, but are probably thinking of a bigger name than Chris Dickerson.
The Reds felt rookie Ryan Hanigan's work at catcher late last season would make him a satisfactory starter, but aren't done looking for potential front-line help behind the plate. The Rangers are still dangling four younger catchers to the market, and want young and inexpensive pitching talent.
Cincinnati has upgraded its organizational pitching depth in recent years, especially at the upper levels. Bailey, still only 22, has struggled but could benefit from the proverbial change of scenery. Other young pitching include starters Matt Maloney, Ramon Ramirez, Daryl Thompson and reliever Josh Roenicke.
Meanwhile, the free-agent market has been moving at a snail's pace league-wide.
"Everybody is waiting to see what happens," one agent told MLB.com on Monday. "Let the big guys fall and then we'll take it from there. We'll just wait it out, there's no hurry."
With Bill Bray the only experienced lefty in the bullpen, the Reds would like to add someone else with more veteran mileage. Jocketty previously said he was taking looks at free agents like Dennys Reyes, Arthur Rhodes, Joe Beimel, Darren Oliver or Will Ohman.
Should Weathers and Lincoln both depart, the Reds' need for an experienced right-handed reliever will also ramp up significantly.
This will be Jocketty's first Winter Meetings as the Reds' GM after he held the same position for the Cardinals from 1994-2007. St. Louis made several December trades during the Jocketty era.
In 1998, shortstop Edgar Renteria was acquired from the Marlins in a four-player trade. During the 2003 Winter Meetings, Jocketty made a blockbuster deal that sent J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero to the Braves for three players that included pitchers Adam Wainwright and Jason Marquis. Just after the meetings concluded in '04, the Cardinals acquired lefty starter Mark Mulder for three players, including starting pitcher Dan Haren.
With Mulder being a free agent and looking for a team following two lost seasons with shoulder injuries, don't be shocked if he reunites with Jocketty. Earlier this offseason, the GM said he wouldn't mind signing Mulder if he's healthy.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.