November 2009

Payroll to stay close to '09 level

My Winter Meetings preview story will roll out on Wednesday morning but I have some information to pass along a little early.

I spoke with Reds GM Walt Jocketty this morning and here are the highlights:

* It appears the Reds will not be cutting payroll significantly for 2010 as previously speculated on some media outlets.

“I think it [the payroll] will be close to what it was last year,” Jocketty said.

Keep in mind, that doesn’t mean there won’t be some tough decisions coming. The Reds payroll was $73 million in 2009. They have already committed over $64 million to nine players for 2010. Does that mean some players could still be moved to meet payroll?

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Jocketty said. “I’m still working on it.”

* The Reds are still looking to strengthen their offense and according to Jocketty, possibly to add a fifth starter.

* In trade talks with other clubs, there has been a familiar stopping point.

“I’ve had some talks with clubs and it seems everyone wants our young players and I don’t want to deal those guys,” Jocketty said.

* There were no talks last week between the Reds and the agents for arbitration eligible outfielder Jonny Gomes. It was hoped that talks could continue during the meetings. Teams must tender contract offers by Dec. 12.

The Winter Meetings will be going on from Dec. 7-10 in Indianapolis.

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Arroyo on hot stove talk

Bronson Arroyo was apologetic when he returned my call after a few days. He had a good excuse — he had been out on his boat sailing off of the Florida coast.

I was seeking to do a story on his reaction to the hot stove talk in recent weeks that the Reds mighthave to slash payroll and move players like himself. He’s due to make $11 million in 2010.

“I really haven’t paid any attention to it,” Arroyo said. “I haven’t been on or to read it so I’ve been totally clueless. People tell me ‘I’ve seen your name thrown around in trade talk.’ Honestly, I’m not thinking about it. If I got traded before Opening Day, I’d be more surprised than when I was traded from Boston [to the Reds in March 2006].”

Always good for speaking his mind with originality, Arroyo’s ignorance to the hot stove hoopla didn’t mean he didn’t have an opinion.

“In my mind, there was no reason to get [Scott] Rolen [in a July 31 trade] if we’re turning around and moving guys without waiting to see what happens [during the season],” Arroyo said. “I think they’ll give us four months to see if we can compete in the division. If we’re not, we’ll have a big scale back. For now, they seem committed to win.”

One more quote:

“I know the budget is tight,” Arroyo said. “But if you re-sign Ramon [Hernandez] for a year, why then go in the other direction? If we were saving, we could have easily had [Ryan] Hanigan catching 130 games next year.”

The full story will be up later on

My take: Arroyo certainly brings some rational thought to the table on this. It would be seem awfully bizarre to trade two top-end pitching prospects to take on 34-year-old Scott Rolen’s $11 million salary after the Reds were out of contention only to turn around and dump other contracts a few months later.

And Hernandez’s contract re-signing, $3 million for 2010, seems to be a luxury addition considering the current situation.

Considering the 2010 projected rotation lacks durability, experience and Edinson Volquez, moving Arroyo and his perennial 200 innings output would put a major strain on the Reds pitching staff.

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Nix, Thompson out/40-man set

The Reds set their 40-man roster in advance of the Dec. 10 Rule 5 Draft. Added to be protected were:

RHP Enerio Del Rosario, OF Chris Heisey, RHP Logan Ondrusek, RHP Jordan Smith, IF Chris Valaika, LHP Philippe Valiquette and LHP Travis Wood.

Removed from the roster: RHP Daryl Thompson, who was outrighted. OF Laynce Nix refused an outright assignment and elected free agency…C Craig Tatum was claimed off waivers by the Orioles.

That puts the Reds roster exactly at 40 players. At this point, there is no room to select someone from the Rule 5 pool.

Nix wasn’t too surprising of a move since he was a non-tender candidate eligible for arbitration anyway. With money tight and Jonny Gomes situation still be worked out, a spot for Nix was slim.

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Got the bad news today that Dusty Baker’s father passed away Tuesday night. Johnnie B. Baker Sr. was 85 years old and had been battling with health issues for a while. Dusty often worried about his Dad and made a few trips home on off days during the season to see him.

My condolences to the Baker family.

BA's Top 10 Reds prospects

Baseball America posted its top 10 list of Reds prospects. Here it is:

1. Todd Frazier, of/2b/3b
2. Yonder Alonso, 1b
3. Mike Leake, rhp
4. Chris Heisey, of
5. Juan Francisco, 3b
6. Yorman Rodriguez, of
7. Travis Wood, lhp
8. Matt Maloney, lhp
9. Brad Boxberger, rhp
10. Zack Cozart, ss

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How Hernandez affects payroll?

The re-signing of catcher Ramon Hernandez for $3 million next season on Monday certainly sent a conflicting signal from the Reds.

Reports last week said that club was reducing payroll, which triggered speculation that a salary dump was near and that Brandon Phillips would be the most marketable player for a trade.

“All of that stuff was speculation by a number of different writers,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “They see that our attendance is down and so that must mean our payroll will go down. We were grouped in with clubs that are reducing payroll but we’re not in that position and hopefully won’t be.”

Jocketty denied attempts are being made to trade Phillips. He also said that the club isn’t necessarily slashing the payroll that was at $73 million in 2009.

“We really don’t know yet,” Jocketty said. “The final budget won’t be done until December and then we’ll have a better idea once season tickets sales come in. It may have to come down some but it’s too early to say. I have to approach that way but if it’s not [that way], we’ll have a nice surplus.”

With Hernandez now signed, it seems less logical [or popular with fans] that the Reds would turn around and trade key members of the roster like Phillips or Bronson Arroyo. But man are things getting tight. I count nine players making a combined $64.75 million in 2010.

They are:

Francisco Cordero – $12M
Aaron Harang – $12.5M
Scott Rolen – $11M
Bronson Arroyo – $11M
Brandon Phillips – $6.75M
Willy Taveras – $4M
Hernandez – $3M
Mike Lincoln – $2.5M
Arthur Rhodes – $2M

As for Hernandez, Jocketty had this to say:

“He was a priority for us this winter,” Jocketty said on Monday. “He’s familiar with the club and our pitching staff. We’re confident his knee has recovered. He and [Ryan] Hanigan, we feel, is a good tandem catching wise.”

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Affiliate news/Redsfest attendees

From the Reds media relations dept:

Today the Reds announced that Class AAA Louisville’s coaching staff will include manager
Rick Sweet, hitting coach Adrian Garrett, pitching coach Ted Power and athletic trainer Tomas Vera;

Class A Lynchburg’s coaching staff will include manager Pat Kelly, hitting coach Tony Jaramillo, pitching coach Rigo Beltran and athletic trainer Dale Nitzel; rookie league Billings’ coaching staff will include manager Delino DeShields, hitting coach Alex Pelaez, pitching coach Bob Forsch and athletic trainer Charles Leddon; rookie Arizona League Goodyear’s coaching staff will include manager Julio Garcia, pitching coach Tom Browning, hitting coach Jorge Orta, head athletic trainer Clete Sigwart, assistant athletic trainer
Charlie Rodriguez and strength and conditioning coach Zach Gjestvang.

REDSFEST ATTENDEES: Bronson Arroyo, Dusty Baker, Todd Benzinger, Mark Berry, Jack Billingham, Pedro Borbon, Glenn Braggs, Jeff Brantley, Marty
Brennaman, Tom Browning, Jay Bruce, Jared Burton, Leo Cardenas, Clay Carroll, Zack Cozart, Johnny Cueto, Eric Davis, Jim Day, Chris Dickerson,
Carlos Fisher, Juan Francisco, Todd Frazier, Wayne Granger, Ryan Hanigan (Friday only), Chuck Harmon, Billy Hatcher (Friday only), Chris Heisey,
Tommy Helms, Daniel Ray Herrera, Brook Jacoby, Tracy Jones (Saturday only), Jim Kelch, Mike Lincoln, Jerry Lynch, Jim Maloney, Matt Maloney, Nick
Masset, Lee May, Hal Morris, Jim O’Toole (Friday only), Ron Oester, Joe Oliver, Logan Ondrusek, Micah Owings, Brandon Phillips, Jeff Piecoro, Bryan
Price, Jeff Reed, Arthur Rhodes, Scott Rolen, Adam Rosales, Chris Sabo (Friday only), Scott Scudder, Mario Soto, Chris Speier, Mike Stefanski, Drew
Stubbs, Chris Valaika, Pedro Viola, Edinson Volquez, Joey Votto, Chris Welsh, Herm Winningham and Travis Wood.

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Hernandez re-signs with Reds

Back from a week’s vacation and news hits right away…

After deciding to decline his $8.5 million club option ($1M buyout), the Reds have re-signed primary catcher Ramon Hernandez to a one-year contract. The deal also includes a vesting option for 2011 that will become guaranteed if Hernandez appears in 120 games next season.

(Update: I have learned the contract is worth $3 million for 2010 and the vesting option would be worth $3.250 million if Hernandez can trigger the games played clause.)

Hernandez batted .258 with five home runs and 37 RBIS in 81 games in his first season with the Reds. His return means that Ryan Hanigan will likely return to his backup role.

“It’s a good place with great players,” Hernandez said of the Reds from his home in Miami. “I know they’ll do very good next season. That’s why I decided to come back.”

Hernandez said his agent, Eric Goldschmidt, worked on the deal over the weekend and told him that it was done on Sunday night.

Hernandez was not surprised when his option wasn’t picked up.

“I expected it to happen,” he said. “Hopefully next year, they’ll see Ramon Hernandez play the whole year.”

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Hernandez option not picked up

I talked to Reds GM Walt Jocketty Friday afternoon. He was at the airport waiting for a flight to Chicago, where will be attending the GM meetings.

Among the topics:

* Catcher Ramon Hernandez is definitely not having his $8.5 million option picked up and will get the buyout for $1 million. The Reds want Hernandez back, however.

“We’re not going to pick up the option,” Jocketty said on Friday. “We have been talking with his agent and trying to negotiate a new deal. We’re hoping he comes back.”

Hernandez would be a Type B free agent on the market, which means the Reds would get a first-round sandwich pick if he’s offered arbitration and signs elsewhere.

* When asked about the Brewers trading shortstop J.J. Hardy to the Twins for CF Carlos Gomez, Jocketty said the Reds had interest in Hardy.

“We talked to [the Brewers] several times,” Jocketty said. “We didn’t match up and they didn’t want to trade within our division, which was understandable.”

* Jocketty wants to retain catcher Corky Miller and outfielder Darnell McDonald after they were sent outright to Triple-A Louisville. Miller was signed to a 2010 contract with Louisville.

* As for arbitration eligible outfielders Jonny Gomes and Laynce Nix, “we’ve talked a little bit,” Jocketty said.

* In more moves revealed later, infielder Danny Richar was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list, was outrighted off the roster and elected free agency. 1B Kevin Barker was outrighted off the roster and elected free agency; RHP Justin Lehr was signed to a one-year Major League contract through the 2010 season and then was outrighted to Louisville.

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Miller, McDonald outrighted

The Reds sent catcher Corky Miller and OF Darnell McDonald outright to Triple-A Louisville. By my count, that puts the 40-man roster at 37 players with three more players (Volquez, Lincoln and Castillo) on the 60-day DL that still need to be added.


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