December 2010

Reds lose Rhodes to Rangers

All fall and winter, it seemed like the Reds retaining LHP Arthur Rhodes was a formality. He wanted to return and the club wanted him back.

But on Thursday night, Rhodes had agreed to a one-year contract with the Rangers — according to a pair of baseball sources. Terms were not immediately known. The deal has yet to be announced by Texas.

The 41-year-old Rhodes was a key late-inning set-up man for the Reds the past two seasons. In 2010, he posted a 2.29 ERA in 69 games – his most appearances since 2001. That included a stretch where he tied a Major League record with 33-straight scoreless appearances – over 30 innings. He was also an All-Star for the first time in his 19-season career.

Complicating matters for the Reds was that other lefty relievers were getting larger deals than Cincinnati was willing to offer Rhodes. For instance, Scott Downs got three years and $15 million from the Angels while Pedro Feliciano received a two-year, $8 million deal from the Yankees. Rhodes had better seasons than both of those guys.

During the Winter Meetings, GM Walt Jocketty mentioned Rhodes was seeking a multi-year deal — which with him at 41, the Reds weren’t willing to do. AOL Fanhouse reported that Rhodes’ deal includes a vesting option for 2012. 

Without Rhodes, the Reds still have lefties Aroldis Chapman and Bill Bray in the fold. As for Dontrelle Willis, who signed a minor league contract last month to reboot his career as a reliever, his chances to make the team just got a whole lot better.

Rhodes was a Type A free agent but the Reds did not offer him arbitration earlier this month. That means they get no compensation picks as a result.

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Got Reds questions? Send them in

Before waiting for Santa to arrive on my roof, I wanted to bang out one final Reds Inbox for 2010. If you have any questions (Reds related and not relationship advice, fashion and holiday advice or random trivia) send them my way.

You can email them to me at mark.sheldon@mlb.com

You can send them via Twitter @m_sheldon

You can click on the comments of this blog post

The only request I ask is please avoid the hypothetical trade proposals. Most of them usually suggest acquiring a superstar player and only giving up marginal players and the proverbial bag of balls.

Thanks much and send away!

Plugged back in

You may have noticed (or perhaps, not at all) that I was on vacation over the last week. I provided a couple of Reds stories in advance of time off. Hopefully you got to read them. They were: Paul Janish ready to be everyday shortstop and Todd Frazier seeking a fresh start in 2011

*Plus there was of course, Jay Bruce’s press conference and Joey Votto was named Canada’s athlete of the year.

 

*And over on “Better Off Red,” Jamie Ramsey had a nice Q&A with Bronson Arroyo — who never has trouble unplugging and traveling during the off-season.

Actually, I took a “staycation,” since I really didn’t go anywhere. The one thing I did do was unplug since  I barely checked email and didn’t look at Twitter once in seven days. I highly recommend it to those who are tethered to their smartphones and computers all the time. Trust me when I say you’ll get points from your family (and fun) when you don’t always have a drifting eye on your email and other things like Twitter. 

But of course, there was still the Internet and television and I certainly didn’t miss the big baseball news of the weekend — that Zack Greinke was traded to the Brewers. Since I got more emails from this winter than any other that the Reds had to get Greinke — I imagine this isn’t a good news story for you. Cincinnati was never really “in” on Greinke. They weren’t willing to part the haul of top young talent to get him and Milwaukee was. They’re making an all-in “go for it” move for 2011. They’re also taking a huge risk. 

That’s the not to say at all the Reds aren’t going for it next season. They simply feel that the young players they already have in place will mature and get better and can still contend without the giant risk taking. The Brewers will have an improved rotation to go with their potent lineup. I’m sure they will be a trendy pick to take the NL Central.

Unlike Cliff Lee, who has proven himself on the big game stage, Greinke had no such track record in Kansas City. I will be curious to see how he does in the National League, where it should be easier to pitch. I will write more about this on MLB.com/Reds.com later today.

The Reds will get to find out quickly — after all, they will have Opening Day vs. the Brewers on March 31, 2011. I’d be willing to bet Greinke will get that assignment.

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Bruce agrees to long-term deal

In a deal that secures one of the pieces of their long-term future, the Reds have agreed to terms late Thursday night with right fielder Jay Bruce on a six-year, $51 million contract, a baseball source confirmed to MLB.com.

The agreement, which avoids arbitration, comes with an option for a seventh year that could push the total earnings to $63 million. The option has a $1 million buyout. ESPN.com first reported the story.

It will be a while until the deal is made official and the Reds have yet to make an announcement. Bruce is scheduled to fly to Cincinnati for his physical on Monday and the signing could be completed by Tuesday.

 
Bruce earned $440,000 in 2010 and was awarded “Super 2″ status after last season, which allowed him first-time arbitration eligible earlier than normal. The contract would wipe out any arbitration issues for all four years, plus two years of potential free agency.

This contract mirrors the six-year, $51.25 million agreement reached in March between the D-backs and Justin Upton, another 23-year-old outfielder entering his arbitration years.

 

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Reds had interest in Bartlett

And your 2010 Winter Meetings are over.

Outside of the re-signing of Miguel Cairo, it was supremely quiet on the Reds front. It appears they did have interest in trading for SS Jason Bartlett but the Rays moved him to the Padres in a deal that hasn’t been made official yet.

“In the end we decided against it,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “I didn’t want to give up the players and I didn’t know how big of an upgrade it was.”

Expected to make $5 million and seeking an extension, Bartlett was also quite a bit more expensive than Paul Janish, who is near the big league minimum. I agree with Jocketty that Bartlett wasn’t a better solution than Janish for shortstop. 

There has been no movement towards the re-signing of LHP Arthur Rhodes as well.

The Rule 5 Draft came and went without the Reds picking a player and for the first time I can remember, they did not lose a player either.

And now comes the day taxi drivers around Orlando have craved — the mass exodus of baseball executives, scouts, reporters, businesses and manufacturers from the Swan and Dolphin Hotel.

I will have a more complete wrap going on Reds.com and MLB.com later today.

 

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Cairo re-signed to two-year deal

The first transaction was completed by the Reds on Wednesday as free agent utility infielder Miguel Cairo was re-signed to a two-year contract. The terms aren’t known, but GM Walt Jocketty said ‘it’s less than market.”

The deal was agreed to on Tuesday night.

“Miguel played a big part in the success of our club this year,” Jocketty said. “He had a very good year. He’s a veteran player that keeps himself in great shape and is always ready to play and fills in a lot of ways. He’s instrumental in the makeup of the clubhouse. He wanted a two-year deal. We talked about it. The price was right so we did it.”

In 90 games with the Reds, Cairo batted .290. He made 38 starts at four positions (26gs at 3B, 9gs at 1B, 2gs at 2B, 1gs at RF).

In other news — talks are ongoing with the agent for Arthur Rhodes.The two asides are still divided on money.

“We met with his agent again today. We made some progress but we’re a ways a part,” Jocketty said.

It appears that LHP Denys Reyes is headed to the Phillies, which were reportedly taking a look at Rhodes too. That lessened his options a bit. At 41, Rhodes was seeking a multi-year deal.

“He is but he’s not going to get it from us,” Jocketty said. “I think he is OK with that.”

Talks were held with Joey Votto’s agent. The Reds will offer a mult-year contract but nothing is expected to get done here.

“They weren’t really ready to talk about it,” Jocketty said.

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NL Central clubs keeping busy

Obviously, the Reds have made it clear before this week and during this week that they don’t feel compelled to make a move during the Winter Meetings. I wrote yesterday that most of the big moves came well after the meetings last year. But it is interesting to watch most of the other NL Central clubs being pretty frisky with their moves this week.

*The Cubs added 1B Carlos Pena for $10 million over one year.

*The Cardinals added SS Ryan Theriot before the meetings and avoided arbitration by signing him to a contract.

*The Brewers traded for RHP Shaun Marcum from Toronto and view him as a No. 2 starter.

*And yes, the Pirates have been a little busy getting OF Matt Diaz, LHP Scott Olsen and RHP Kevin Correia.

*The Astros, like the Reds, have been quiet.

All of the moves confirm what’s been expected since the season ended, the Reds have a big target on their back and other clubs are trying to reload to knock them off.

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Crickets and tumbleweeds

If you’re a Reds news hound looking for signs of Winter Meetings action and transactions, Walt Jocketty made it clear from the get-go Tuesday it wouldn’t be that type of day.

“Here’s the update: nothing,” Jocketty said. “We’ve had zero conversations with agents or clubs today. A couple of phone calls, that’s about it.

“We really just spent the day talking with our group here, seeing what else we need to do or have to do. I think we’re at the point where we really like our club, like the depth that we have with the pitching. We like the everyday lineup. Based on where our payroll is, we’ll probably go with young guys on the bench. That’s the way it’s going to be.”

Quick tidbits —

Nothing has happened today involving Joey Votto.

Club still optimistic it can re-sign Miguel Cairo and Arthur Rhodes this week.

Zack Cozart is in the mix to be a possible shortstop off of the bench.

Laynce Nix has not been ruled out for a return to the Reds. The club feels it might need more left-handed hitting for the bench besides Juan Francisco.

Ken Griffey Sr. was hired to be the manager of Class A Bakersfield. Delino DeShields was hired to manage Class A Dayton after being in Billings last season. Pat Kelly will be a roving instructor and manage Billings.

I will have more on the site later regarding the leadoff hitter search and about salary deferral.

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Quick Winter Meetings update

Some quick notes from a session with Reds GM Walt Jocketty.

*The Reds have had talks with the agent for Miguel Cairo. Jocketty was optimistic Cairo could be re-signed this week. It would be for a big league contract.

*Talks are planned this week with the agent for LHP Arthur Rhodes

*Joey Votto’s agent, Danny Lozano, is here at the hotel. But Jocketty did not indicate talks were set up yet. As for getting deals done with Votto, Jay Bruce or other arbitration eligible guys…

“I don’t see anything happening on any of that stuff here,” Jocketty said.

When asked whether his reception to inquiries about Yonder Alonso are affected by Votto’s status…

“I think right now, Yonder is a guy that still figures in the organization,” Jocketty said. “It gives us protection. He believes that he’s working this winter to come in and compete for a spot on the bench next year to play some first and left field and be a left-handed hitter off the bench.”

*Asked about speculation of the Reds interest in Royals ace Zack Greinke:

“I haven’t had any discussions with them,” Jocketty said.

Otherwise, the Reds suite at the Swan & Dolphin Resort Hotel hasn’t been too busy.

More later…

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No HOF for Concepcion

Davey Concepcion did not get into the Hall of Fame during the latest opportunity. Longtime Blue Jays and Phillies executive Pat Gillick was the lone person elected by the Expansion Era Committee, it was announced on Monday.

Needing 75 percent of the 16 votes, Gillick received 13 (81.25%). Marvin Miller was next (11 votes, 68.75%) and Concepcion had eight votes (50%). He needed 12 votes.

“I was pulling for Davey, obviously. I knew it was a 50-50 chance,” said Reds great Johnny Bench, who was on the committee.

Bench said he joked with Ozzie Smith — also was on the committee — that it was “his fault” Concepcion won five Gold Gloves while while Smith won 13.

“When you think about it, Davey would have won 10 Gold Gloves or more (without Smith),” Bench said. “That was what I was trying to convey and I think I probably swayed some pepole. Had I not been there, I don’t think Davey would have gotten a quarter of the votes [he got], quite honestly. but I was passionate about it.” 

As far as other Winter Meetings stuff, Dusty Baker is holding a media session at 2 p.m. After that, there will be some time with GM Walt Jocketty. More later…

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