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12/07/08 9:00 PM EST
Reds have full plate at Winter Meetings
GM Jocketty eyes deals to fill needs at several positions
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
LAS VEGAS -- For nearly a week, starting on Monday, there will be a large group of people completely oblivious to the bright lights and decadence that is often Las Vegas. Instead, those hundreds of club executives, team staff, player agents and reporters will be immersed in all things baseball. The Winter Meetings have indeed arrived at the famed Bellagio Hotel and Casino. "The Winter Meetings are very hectic and pressure-filled for GMs and clubs to get things done," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "We check into our rooms and very rarely get out. It's very competitive and the competition gets the juices flowing, but there are many long hours."
Jocketty was between jobs this time last offseason and did not attend the Winter Meetings. After 13 years with the Cardinals as GM, this will be his first Meetings in charge of the Reds' baseball operations.
Offseason activity surrounding the Reds has moved about as quickly as a turtle walking through molasses. There is optimism that could change, especially after Sunday's 11:59 p.m. ET deadline for free agents to accept or decline arbitration.
"People will know more about the free agents," Jocketty said. "I think things will start picking up. It depends on what people are finding out about their own free agents, other teams' free agents and players up for arbitration."
Whether moves are made or not, Cincinnati has a full plate of activity on the agenda. Jocketty is trying to pursue trades for a right-handed hitter, most likely for left field. He is eyeing the landscape for another catcher, a left-handed reliever and a shortstop who can be insurance for Alex Gonzalez.
There is also the matter of the Reds' own free agents -- relievers David Weathers and utility player Jerry Hairston Jr. Jocketty re-signed free-agent reliever Mike Lincoln on Thursday to a two-year, $4 million contract and hoped to get something done with Weathers and Hairston so the club would know where it stood going into Meetings week.
Weathers didn't believe talks were close enough with the Reds that something would be done by Monday.
"Not at the pace we're going, I wouldn't say so," Weathers said on Friday.
While the preference is to make most upgrades through trades, Jocketty is talking to free agents to fill the left-handed setup role in the bullpen to replace the departed Jeremy Affeldt.
The Reds are waiting to hear back on the offer they made to veteran lefty Arthur Rhodes. They have also talked to the agent for Dennys Reyes. There is interest in Joe Beimel, but no talks have commenced.
Besides Hot Stove activity, there will be a flurry of announcements made -- many that are of interest to Reds fans.
On Monday, the results of the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee ballots will be revealed. Former Reds outfield great Vada Pinson was on the ballot for the 64 living Hall of Famers that comprise the electorate. Pinson would need to be named on 75 percent of the ballots to be elected.
Also under consideration on a special Veterans Committee ballot of pre-1943-era players are former Reds Bucky Walters, Carl Mays and Sherry Magee.
On Tuesday, the recipient of the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award will be announced. Late Reds broadcasting icon Joe Nuxhall is one of the 10 finalists for the third year in a row via an online fan vote. Voting for the Frick Award was performed by a 20-member panel that includes 15 living Frick winners.
On Wednesday, there will be a news conference that announces more details about the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
And per tradition, the Winter Meetings conclude on Thursday morning with the Rule 5 Draft of eligible players not protected on 40-man rosters. The Reds have two open spots on their 40-man roster and would be able to select up to two players from other clubs.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.