Taking some time

As I often do after the Redsfest/Winter Meetings combo, I’m taking a little pre-holiday break for the next week or so. While this blog and my Twitter feed will likely be idle, there will be full coverage of any and all Reds news on MLB.com/Reds.com.

Feel free to use to the comment space to discuss any new developments.

Take it easy…

32 Comments

Is it time to consider trading Aroldis Chapman?
12/13/13 at 1:31pm by John Fay

I’ve done my part to assure that Brandon Phillips remains a Red. I just got done writing a story to run in case Phillips gets traded. Those stories usually never see the light of day. (Somewhere on some hard drive are the the stories I wrote for the 1999 Reds playoff section).

But I digress. I think the Phillips-for-Brett Gardner trade that didn’t happen at the Winter Meetings still could happen. Other players may needed to be added, and Phillips would have to agree to waive his no-trade. I’m guessing one phone call from Derek Jeter would do the trick.

The other name being mentioned in regard to Yankees and Gardner is Homer Bailey. Walt Jocketty said the Reds are trying to sign Bailey, not trade him.

A name that hasn’t been mentioned is Aroldis Chapman. Chapman would probably be enough to Gardner and more from the Yankees. And if Chapman is made available, more teams than just the Yankees would be interested.

He’s the kind of trading chip that could help solve the hole in the offense that Shin-Soo Choo’s absence will leave.

It is time for the Reds to at least consider trading Chapman. His “I’m the closer” statement cannot have sat well with the front office. Chapman’s greatest value is as a starter, but you can’t make him a starter if he doesn’t want to start. (Say what you will about Phillips, but he’s hit wherever the Reds have asked in the lineup).

Chapman is also basically a free agent after the 2014 season. There’s a club option for 2015, according to Cot’s Contracts.

Chapman is spectacular at what he does. He is as much fun to watch as any player in baseball. But the fact is he converts saves at roughly the same rate as Francisco Cordero did.

The Reds have other pitchers in the bullpen who can convert saves, but none who could get what Chapman would on the trade market.

Omar Infante off the books…Phillips stock rises yet again…
Free agent infielder Omar Infante has agreed to a four-year deal worth about $30 million with the Kansas City Royals, sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney.

NL Notes: Reds, Arroyo
By Charlie Wilmoth [December 13 at 11:22pm CST]

Homer Bailey is due to become a free agent after the season, but the Reds are telling other teams that they don’t want to trade him, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (via Twitter). The Reds are worried about their depth in starting pitching, and Heyman notes that the return of Bronson Arroyo might be able to help them. Heyman also tweets that the Reds are one of the finalists for Arroyo, along with the Twins and two other teams.
………………………………….

Anybody else get the idea that we are trying to sign Arroyo so that Bailey can be traded? I dunno, just seems like a reasonable step, although I think Bailey will be something over the next several years.

According to ESPN.com, Phillips for Gardner was not discussed. The Reds offered Marshall for Gardner. It has been noted that the Yankees would prefer obtaining Phillips in the trade. Another story from a different angle.

What Omar Infante Deal Means for Short-Term Plans for Royals, Yankees
By Ely Sussman
Bleacher Report
(Featured Columnist) on December 13, 2013
(excerpt)
What’s Next for New York?
Phillips has four years and $50 million left on his deal.
The Cincinnati Reds approached the Yankees about a Brandon Phillips trade during the winter meetings, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.
They rejected it.
Now, this Infante development could send Bombers general manager Brian Cashman begging to get his seat back at the negotiating table. That’s because beyond Phillips, there don’t appear to be any potentially available second basemen who are definitively better than New York’s own Kelly Johnson.
The Atlanta Braves’ Dan Uggla is a year older than Phillips, owed more annually for the remainder of his contract, inferior with the glove and coming off a summer in which his strikeout total (171) nearly matched his batting average (.179). Free agent Brian Roberts never ceases to find new ways to sustain significant injuries. Mark Ellis is the oldest of them all—turns 37 in June—and although very effective in the field, he’s not a steady source of power, speed or durability.
On the bright side, settling for Roberts or Ellis—or ignoring the second-base market entirely—encourages the Yankees to pursue top-tier free-agent starting pitching. Masahiro Tanaka appears to be the top priority, but Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez also compare favorably to the question marks currently filling out the back end of the club’s projected rotation.

East Notes: Yankees, Barney
By Zach Links [December 14 at 2:49pm CST]
The latest from the AL East..
The Yankees may have interest in Darwin Barney of the Cubs, tweets Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com. The two sides have discussed the second baseman in the past and talks have been renewed in the wake of Omar Infante’s agreement with the Royals. Barney had a down year in 2013, posting a .208/.266/.303 line in 501 plate appearances.

Report: Reds to offer Bronson Arroyo 1-year deal
Written by The Enquirer
December 14, 2013

Bronson Arroyo could be back in a Cincinnati Reds uniform in 2014.

The Reds have told the 36-year-old right hander that they will offer him a one-year deal, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Fellow national baseball reporter Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that the Arroyo sweepstakes is down to the Reds, Twins and two other teams.

The Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans reported that Reds general manager Walt Jocketty met with Arroyo’s agent, Terry Bross, on Tuesday at the Major League Baseball at the Major League Baseball winter meetings at the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World.

“We wanted to let some time pass, he wanted to check the market and stuff, we told him we wanted to meet with him again and see where they’re at and see if we can still do something,” Jocketty said of Arroyo. “I don’t know if we’ll do anything, but we wanted to at least meet with him because he’s been with us for so long and he’s been such a big part of our success that we thought it was important at least to talk to him again before anything happened.”

The Reds’ rotation appears to be set with Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Tony Cingrani, although Cueto, Latos and Cingrani had injuries late in the season, with Cueto missing much of the season. Jocketty joked that the team might go to a six-man rotation to make room for Arroyo.

The Mets, as well as the Phillies and Pirates, have been linked to Arroyo this offseason.

Last month, Arroyo told the Enquirer that he wanted to retire as a Red.

The Reds did not offer Arroyo a one-year qualifying offer of $14.1 million.

“I enjoy playing for that organization and with those guys, so yeah, I probably would have taken it,” Arroyo said last month.

“It just means I’d be in the same place next year.”

Obviously not related with the Reds today, but interesting non the less…
Famous Babe Ruth HR ball for auction
December 16, 2013, 6:12 PM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com
More than 85 years after it was signed, one of history’s most famous autographed baseballs is hitting the auction block.
Grey Flannel Auctions says it has the ball signed by New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth and five of his teammates that was given to 11-year-old Johnny Sylvester, who was injured after falling off a horse in the summer of 1926
Grey Flannel AuctionsA baseball made famous by Babe Ruth’s promise to an 11-year-old boy will be put up for sale.
The ball, which was sent by air mail to Sylvester’s home in New Jersey from St. Louis, where the Yankees were playing in the World Series, was famously inscribed with the words “I’ll knock a homer for Wednesday’s game” by Ruth.
After Ruth hit three home runs that Wednesday, in Game 4 of the World Series, and accounts portrayed that the boy’s condition had dramatically improved, Sylvester instantly became the most famous child in America. One newspaper featured a picture of Sylvester with a headline, “CURED! BY HOME RUNS.”
The ball was in the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore for 25 years and was consigned to Grey Flannel Auctions by Sylvester’s son, John Jr. The online auction, which includes other items in Sylvester’s collection, begins Friday and runs until Feb. 6, which would have been Ruth’s 119th birthday. A reserve price has not been set.
The record for the most paid for a signed Babe Ruth ball is $388,375 in 2012.
There have been many doubts Sylvester’s exact condition at the time, and Hollywood didn’t do help in terms of factual accuracy. In the film “The Babe Ruth Story,” produced in 1948, Sylvester lives in Gary, Ind., and Ruth delivers the message in person. For dramatic effect, the film combines the Sylvester story with Ruth’s “called shot” off the Chicago Cubs in the 1932 World Series.
Ruth visited Sylvester after the Yankees lost the Series and remained in touch until Ruth’s death in 1948, according to a recent documentary called “I’ll Knock A Homer For You,” produced by Sylvester’s great-nephew Andrew Lilley.

The Yankees and second baseman Brian Roberts have agreed to a one-year deal worth $2MM plus incentives, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

Glad to see the Yankees sign a second baseman. Maybe the rumor mill will start grinding on something else for a while! I’m personally enjoying the “sign Arroyo for a year (club option for 2015?), trade Bailey for someone to fill Choo’s void” rumor. If Bailey truly isn’t interested in signing long-term with Cincinnati, it sure seems like a good idea to me. I can’t figure out what a perfect fit would be in return for Bailey, but there are a lot of people working on that sort of thing, I’m sure. What would we have to offer Bronson? 10M? Higher? Since we didn’t offer him a qualifying 14.1M, it doesn’t seem like there would be much room above that number. His 3.5 ERA, 200 innings is hard to find out there. I’d love to see him back. Free agents are just so expensive, it’s crazy. I’m not surprised we haven’t done much yet this off season.

Your post is spot on. Without the Yankees bank roll, it would seem that Phillips will be dressed in red next season, and I don’t mean under any arches! Arroyo for a year would be terrific in my opinion if the price is right, and as you say, a trade involving Bailey wouldn’t be a bad thing but for what position? If Phillips is our 2B, what do we do with Hamilton? Or, maybe, just maybe, we sign a CF/LF and play him in CF in 2014 and move him to LF in 2015 when Lud is gone and Hamilton is ready to star. Then there is the rumor that the Reds are also trying to trade Marshal; guess his injury has spooked Jocketty. Who knows…I was 75% sure that Phillips was destined to go to the Yankees, however, his demand to increase his overall salary or he wouldn’t approve the trade was a bit distasteful to NYY. What I do know for sure, we aren’t ready to send a lineup of:
Hamilton CF
Phillips 2B
Votto 1B
Ludwick LF
Bruce RF
Frazier 3B
Mesoraco C
Cozart SS
…out on the field and expect them to take us to the WS! No, I sense that we aren’t done by any stretch of the imagination. I still believe that Jocketty will find us a power right handed bat or a quality lead off hitter. (geez, you gotta love this time of year!?*).

Thanks for keeping us updated, Neb. You’ve been really helpful!

Glad to assist while Mark is away enjoying some earned downtime.

NYY strike out on Choo…
Superagent Scott Boras does some of his finest work in the latter stages of free agency. And in the case of Shin-Soo Choo, he faces yet another challenge in a career built on slaying them: find Choo a contract for the $140 million the New York Yankees offered him even after they signed Jacoby Ellsbury.

In the aftermath of Robinson Cano’s defection to Seattle, New York presented Choo a seven-year, $140 million deal, three sources outside the Yankees’ organization told Yahoo Sports. When Boras countered asking for more money – one source indicated he wanted “Ellsbury money,” or $153 million over seven years– the Yankees pulled the offer and signed Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45 million deal.

The Rockies are acquiring Drew Stubbs from the Indians, sources tell Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link) and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.

I am amazed Walt Jocketty has not made any trades while Mark is on leave. Usually this is when he makes all of his moves. LOL

Reds Sign Chien-Ming Wang
By Steve Adams [December 19 at 9:05am CST]

The Reds have signed right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, according to a news release in Taiwan from Wang’s agency, Octagon (via Focus News Taiwan). Wang would earn $1.25MM upon making the Major League roster and could see his salary hit $3MM should he reach all of the incentives in the deal.

Wang, 34 in March, turned in a pair of brilliant starts for the Blue Jays last season but saw those two excellent starts sandwiched by a series of poor outings that led to a 7.67 ERA with 4.7 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 58 percent ground-ball rate in 27 frames. The Taiwanese hurler was very solid between the Triple-A affiliates for the Blue Jays and Yankees though, pitching to a 2.87 ERA with 4.5 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 109 2/3 innings.

Wang’s big league career got off to a promising start, as he posted a 3.79 ERA in 628 2/3 innings over parts of four seasons (2005-08) with the Yankees. That run included a pair of sub-4.00 ERA, 200-inning seasons — one of which landed him second in the AL Cy Young voting.

Injuries are the likely reason for Wang’s 6.60 ERA in 163 innings since the 2009 season. His 2008 season was cut short by a Lis Franc fracture in his foot, and he then required shoulder surgery in 2009. It’s been an uphill battle for the veteran since that time, though last year’s Triple-A work and an impressive showing in the World Baseball Classic give some reason for a bit of optimism.

Well, he’s only 33 and the winner of 19 games twice; 2006 – 19-6, 2007 – 19-7, but was hurt shortly after that and missed all of 2010. And if anyone can turn around a once solid SP, it’s Captain Price! Not a bad gamble, imo, especially for the discounted price. Heck if he could relieve for a few years it might well be worth the coin.

Orioles To Sign Xavier Paul
By Steve Adams [December 19 at 1:31pm CST]

The Orioles have signed outfielder Xavier Paul to a minor league contract with an invite to big league camp in Spring Training, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. The Paragon Sports International client was non-tendered by the Reds on Dec. 2 this year. He had been projected to earn $1MM via arbitration, per MLBTR’s Matt Swartz.

Paul, 29 in February, enjoyed a solid season at the plate, batting .244/.339/.402 with seven homers in 239 plate appearances. Paul hit right-handed pitching particularly well in 2013, slashing .253/.349/.426 with all seven of his homers facing opposite-handed pitching. Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs saved are not optimistic about his defense, however, as both grade him as a below-average left fielder.

Without looking up his tenure and status, I would be a bit surprised if we didn’t resign Robinson. But, I guess we can’t resign everyone we thought were good; this kid could fly like the wind (field and bases), make contact at the plate, and above all, bunt! Obviously they saw something I didn’t or maybe they did, and didn’t like it.

206 PA, .255 /322 /323 /645, plays all three fields. Seems like a terrific bench guy for late game activity to me.

Main man Mesoraco ready to live up to potential
Mark Sheldon, MLB.com
“I was obviously sad to see Hani go, because we’ve been pretty close as a catching unit as far as sharing information and picking each other’s brain,” Mesoraco said. “At the same time, it’s a good opportunity for me. It’s a vote of confidence for me. They’ve seen me improving over the years and getting better. I’m getting to be the player I’m supposed to be and can be. It definitely pumps me up a bit to come into camp in shape and 100 percent prepared to be an everyday catcher.”

Could Yankees now turn to Arroyo?
Ken Rosenthal, FoxSports
Arroyo is good friends with Matthew Krause, the Yankees’ new strength and conditioning coach. Krause designed Arroyo’s conditioning program during their time together with the Reds.
And while Arroyo turns 37 on Feb. 24, he has never been on the disabled list or missed a start.
In other words, he would be a sensible short-term fit for the Yankees, who are not currently inclined to extend themselves for any of the other top free-agent righties – Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza.

Start countdown: Reds pitchers & catchers report Feb. 14
12/20/13 at 10:22am by C. Trent Rosecrans

The Reds announced Friday that pitchers and catchers will report to Goodyear, Ariz., on Feb. 14. Position players will report Feb. 19.

The team also released its non-roster invitees, pitchers Jose Diaz, Lee Hyde and Chien-Ming Wang; catchers Corky Miller, Rossmel Perez and Max Ramirez; infielders Argenis Diaz, Reynaldo Navarro and Kristopher Negron; and outfielder Jason Bourgeois.

Our depth at potentially major league ready AAA pitching seems really thin. I’m glad the Reds are trying to address this with the addition of Wang. If something were to happen to Cueto (as unlikely a scenario as that may be) or another of our 5 big-league starters, I wasn’t personally too excited about who might be headed up I-71 to start some games. I haven’t a clue if Wang is up to the challenge, but I’m glad to see that it’s an area that’s being addressed. If he actually proves to be capable of rekindling his former performance, it could help the Reds move Bailey during his walk year.
I guess, alternatively, they could be thinking “long man” out of the bullpen or just an inexpensive veteran presence in Louisville.

The Reds and their giant weakness in center field
By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer
December 19, 2013 2:04 pm ET

http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/24381027/the-reds-and-their-giant-gaping-hole-in-center-field

…………………………………………
Good read on Hamilton and CF.

Rangers Sign Shin-Soo Choo
By Jeff Todd [December 21 at 11:13am CST]

Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has reached agreement with the Rangers on a seven-year deal for $130MM, pending a physical, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Choo’s deal includes no opt-outs or options, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, but does contain a limited no-trade clause. Choo, 31, is a client of the Boras Corporation.

Reactions To Shin-Soo Choo Signing
By Zach Links [December 21 at 4:00pm CST]

By agreeing to a seven-year, $130MM contract today with Shin-Soo Choo, the Rangers put an exclamation point on an offseason of sizable future salary commitments — for the team and the league as a whole. Along with the contract commitments taken on or made to Alex Rios, Prince Fielder, Martin Perez, Elvis Andrus, and Matt Harrison, Texas has added nearly $400MM in future salary obligations to its books during the 2013 calendar year. And as MLBTR’s 2014 Free Agent Tracker shows, league-wide salary expenditure through free agency has now passed the bar set in 2013, when the league spent $1.46 billion on open-market players.

With Choo off the board, the top remaining free agent position players are Stephen Drew and Nelson Cruz. Of course, several other major pitching targets are still free, and figure to command sizeable deals of their own. Here are some of the early reactions from around baseball to Choo’s signing:
•As far as discipline goes, Choo, Prince Fielder and Geovany Soto will add real stress to opponent pitch counts, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas News. In 2013, the Rangers ranked ninth in the AL in total pitches seen and that was with the benefit one of extra game.
•In the wake of Choo signing with Texas, Reds GM Walt Jocketty reiterated that Billy Hamilton is his guy, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He’s the guy,” Jocketty said. “We feel confident he can be a good leadoff hitter. He’ll give us great defense. The only question is how often he can get on base. He’ll start working on his bunting again after the first of the year. If he can master that, it will really help him.”
•The Rangers and Boras worked well into Friday night and Saturday morning to put together the deal, writes Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Brown adds that Choo’s left-handed bat should play particularly well in Texas.
•Bringing Choo into the fold takes care of the final item on the Rangers’ to-do list and helps ensure that the three-way race for the American League West will once again be must-see baseball, writes Fangraphs’ Paul Swydan.
•Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com looks at possible lineups for the Rangers now that Choo is in the fold.

Hopefully, this will be the nail in the coffin to the “Trade Brandon Phillips” banter. I think the primary reason it was started (and continued) was because people had slim hope that the Reds could re-sign Choo.

Latest On Bronson Arroyo
By Zach Links [December 24 at 3:47pm CST]

The free agent pitching market is largely on hold due to the pending decision on whether Masahiro Tanaka will be posted. One of the starters left in a holding pattern is veteran Bronson Arroyo, who tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick that he’s anxiously waiting for his phone to ring with a strong opportunity.

While it was previously rumored that the Reds offered him a one-year deal, Arroyo says that never happened. Arroyo, 37 in February, also denies that he was ever close to an agreement with the Twins. However, Crasnick notes that the Reds could still ultimately be in the mix for him and we heard earlier today that the Twins have maintained dialogue with the free agent hurler.

Minnesota’s interest in Arroyo has been known for some time, but they’ve already committed about $84MM to Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and Mike Pelfrey this offseason. The Reds, meanwhile, need pitching depth, but they could be wary of the price tag on one of baseball’s most durable pitchers. Arroyo is the only pitcher in baseball to make at least 32 starts per year from 2005 through 2013.

Many scouts and evaluators think Arroyo would be better served pitching in the National League than the American, but his performance in hitter-friendly Great American Park has made him confident that he can survive anywhere. Arroyo would prefer the East Coast to the West Coast, but he says that’s not a deal-breaker by any means.

“There’s no point in me really thinking about where my perfect place is, because I don’t know who’s interested,” Arroyo told Crasnick. “It’s like going to a party and the whole premise is to find a wife. There are ten girls there, and three of them are smoking hot, but they don’t even look in your direction twice, so there’s no point in going after them. Then maybe somebody else comes along who didn’t seem so attractive at first, and you like what she’s saying and you think, ‘Hey, maybe this is the one.’ That’s the way I see it. I can’t pick and choose teams. They have to choose me, and I realize it could take a long time for them to get where they need to be. I’ve been fine, but if it’s January 15th and I’m still spinning my wheels, I’ll probably change my tune.”

Outstanding article about Arroyo; feel bad he won’t be a Red…I think…

http://espn.go.com/mlb/hotstove13/story/_/id/10187622/bronson-arroyo-anxious-sign-dotted-line

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