Leake avoids arbitration

Reds pitcher Mike Leake avoided arbitration with the club by agreeing to a one-year deal at $9.775 million, a source told MLB.com on Friday.

Leake earned $5.9 million last season. This winter was his third and final time of being eligible for arbitration. He can become a free agent after the season.

The Reds have not announced a signing yet.

That leaves Chapman, Mesoraco and Frazier still eligible for arbitration.

UPDATE at 1:35 p.m.: The Reds announced they have agreed to terms with Leake and Cozart.

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Good news!

*Reds 9th inning man Aroldis Chapman filed for $8.7MM while the team countered at $6.65MM, per Heyman of CBSSports.com.
*The Reds countered the $5.7MM filing of Todd Frazier with a $3.9MM figure, according to Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs.

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I was actually in favor of the Byrd trade, but I think I’d like Aoki for the similar money(possibly less $ if Byrd’s vesting option kicks in) better. And Aoki would address the bigger ( than HR power) OBP issue

As I have already noted on here a few times I would have loved to have Aoki because I also think we need on base guys more than the slugger although I too am happy to have Byrd here. In present day terms Aoki really wasn’t that expensive. I see Latos filed for !0.4 million, hard for an old dude like me to relate to these numbers thrown about now but it is what it is.

From article on ESPN by Jerry Crasnick:
The Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves were among the other clubs that reportedly expressed interest in Aoki during the free-agent process. A source familiar with Aoki’s search said geography and the ability to play for a contender ultimately helped sway him toward San Francisco.

MLB Trade Rumors…
Free agent righty Donovan Hand tweets that he has agreed to a deal with the Reds. The deal would presumably be of the minor league variety. Hand, 28, spent his eighth season in the Brewers organization in 2014 as a swingman for Triple-A Nashville, posting a 5.20 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. Hand had the same role in the big leagues in 2013, posting a 3.69 ERA and 2.8 BB/9 in 68 1/3 innings but with just 4.9 K/9.

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We may not see this Reds team in September…
NL Central becoming toughest division
C. Trent Rosecrans, crosecrans@enquirer.com 11:58 a.m. EST January 18, 2015
The toughest division in baseball has a familiar look.
•A traditional powerhouse that has a trophy case full of World Series titles, fans that won’t let you forget it and seemingly endless coffers.
•A traditional loser with ardent fans who have never seen a World Series victory in their lifetimes that has renewed hope thanks to Theo Epstein.
•An upstart that had been a perennial loser that has been buoyed by advanced statistics and a manager with spiked white hair and black-rimmed glasses.
While the American League East is far from a cakewalk, the National League Central can certainly challenge it for supremacy now and into the future.
“Just my buzzard’s luck,” joked Epstein, who is entering his fourth season as Cubs’ president of baseball operations after nine seasons in Boston, in November at the General Managers’ Meetings in Phoenix.
Even taking away the job Epstein has done building the Cubs’ farm system, the division has claimed the most postseason spots over the last five years. In the three years that baseball has had two wild cards, the NL Central has occupied four of the six spots in the National League, while the American League has had an equitable two teams from each of the three divisions in the league in their one-game playoff games.
Each of the last four seasons has featured the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series, with St. Louis facing off against division rival Milwaukee in 2011. The Cardinals have advanced to the World Series twice in that time, winning one World Series against the Rangers in 2011 and falling to the Red Sox in 2013. And in the last four years, four of the five teams in the division have made the playoffs – the Cardinals in each of those years, the Reds in three of four, the Pirates two and the Brewers one.
“I think someone said there’s no cupcakes, doormats in the division,” Epstein said in November. “It’s flown under the radar a little bit – look at the division’s performance outside of the division, and it’s been really good.”
With the Cubs ascending thanks to young talent – and the acquisitions of lefty Jon Lester and All-Star catcher Miguel Montero – and a good, young rotation, the division has a favorite to finish first in the Cardinals, but any of the four remaining teams could realistically finish at the bottom. The problem is figuring out which one will.
“The Cubs are coming, the Cubs are coming,” new Braves General Manager John Hart said in November, before the acquisitions of Lester and Montero. “I’ll be interested to see what they do this winter, but their position player cache is really good. They also have an economic engine. They’ve stepped out on a couple of guys with Edwin Jackson, but in the end they’re not restricted. The Pirates have been good, Cincinnati has another year in them. Obviously St. Louis is formidable. It’s not like they’re a bunch of mediocre teams being competitive, these are some really good teams, good organizations with a depth of players.”
The division potentially has two superpowers in long-time rivals St. Louis and Chicago. And with the ascension of the Cubs, the two could become the Yankees-Red Sox of the Midwest.
Of course, Epstein would like to halt that talk before it gets too far out of control.
“Very quickly, we’ve gone from under-the-radar, rebuilding healthy franchise with some good things happening with young players to now, they’re taking it too far when they start talking about us as now a powerhouse. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle,” Epstein said at the GM Meetings.
“We’re just trying to grow a healthy organization, we’re shifting out of a mode where we’re simply acquiring young talent and we’re entering a mode where we’re competing. If you’re going to compete, I don’t believe in half-way competing. I think you should set your sights high, you should hold yourself and your players accountable for making the postseason when you’re in a competitive mode.”
The Cardinals, on the other hand, are nothing short of a powerhouse. Not only are they arguably the best-run franchise in the game (or perhaps any major North American pro sports league), but they also are a big market in small-market clothing.
When ranking the 25 Major League Baseball markets in the United States according to Nielsen (Toronto isn’t ranked and four markets have two teams), the Cardinals’ have just the 19th-largest market. However, last year Forbes estimated the Cardinals to be the eighth most-valuable franchise in baseball. That’s in part to a an average of 3.3 million fans who attend games every year as well as a new resource in the money generated from the team-owned Ballpark Village development near Busch Stadium. The Cardinals also have a new TV contract coming soon, so debt collectors won’t be calling anytime soon.
The Cardinals could still sign someone like St. Louis native Max Scherzer or make a deal for David Price before the season starts, and that would even further cement their place as the divisional favorite.
Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak has remained steadfast this offseason that the team doesn’t have to make a big move to stay competitive.
“I think we have a pretty good team. Being reactionary to what’s happening in your neighborhood is something we’re cognizant of, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to make a bad business decision just to say we did something,” Mozeliak said.
That’s been at the core of Cardinals’ success. Instead of being sentimental and rewarding long-time star Albert Pujols when he was a free agent after the 2011 season, the Cardinals looked at his advanced age and let him go elsewhere. They traded St. Louis native and World Series hero David Freese before he became too expensive. They are still neck-and-neck with the Reds for the highest payroll in the division, but while the Reds had to trade away two starters to keep payroll down, the Cardinals have the flexibility to give big money to multiple players.
“I don’t think they’ve even reached their potential yet,” Epstein said. “If they sensed a threat and wanted to put their foot on the gas, it’s almost unlimited in what they could do if they wanted to, the way they’ve expanded the ballpark and the revenue increases and the success they’ve had on the field – which is ultimately the best way to increase revenues. I think there’s not a player in baseball they couldn’t go get if they wanted to.”
That makes it tough for the upstarts – Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and, yes, Cincinnati.
“The Cardinals are always there, I thought the Reds had as good a team as anybody, but they had major injuries,” Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin said while looking back at 2014 and ahead to 2015. “The Cubs are coming on, the Pirates got to a point where they’re very competitive and got to the playoffs. It goes in cycles. In ’04, ’06, we were rebuilding. The Pirates were behind us, the Cubs were good at that time, the Cubs then went to the back of the line. Now we’re a team that has to be careful we don’t get caught in the middle. The challenge isn’t necessarily winning, the challenge is sustaining it.”
And doing it in the NL Central may be harder than anywhere else.
“There’s really talented managers in the division, there’s really talented front offices in the division,” Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington said in November. “There are groups that have done it the right way, as a result, it’s going to be really challenging to move forward with this.
“Who would have predicted at the beginning of the year there would be two playoff teams from the division again? And we were close to a third. We were probably the one most counted on being on the outside looking in and our guys battled through it. It’s going to be a challenge to remain competitive in the Central.”
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
2014 record: 90-72
Additions: OF Jason Heyward, 1B/3B Mark Reynolds, RHP Jordan Walden, RHP Matt Belisle
Losses: OF Oscar Taveras, C A.J Pierzynski (Braves), IF Daniel Descalso (Rockies), RHP Justin Masterson (Red Sox), RHP Jason Motte (Cubs), RHP Pat Neshek (Astors), RHP Shelby Miller (Braves)
Projected payroll*: $120.7 million
Comment: The Cardinals reacted to the tragic death of Oscar Taveras by trading for Jason Hayward, a free agent following the 2015 season. There’s talk that the Cardinals could still add a big-ticket pitcher, like St. Louis native Max Scherzer or Detroit’s David Price.
PITTSBURGH PIRATES
2014 record: 88-74
Additions: C Francisco Cervelli, 1B/OF Corey Hart, SS Jung-ho Kang, IF/OF Sean Rodriguez, RHP A.J. Burnett, LHP Antonio Bastardo, RHP Radhames Liz
Losses: C Russell Martin (Blue Jays), IF Clint Barmes (Padres), RHP Edinson Volquez (Royals), 1B Ike Davis (A’s), RF John Axford (free agent)
Projected payroll*: $89.7 million
Comment: While the Pirates took a big gamble by signing Korean shortstop Jung Ho Kang to a four-year, $11 million contract, they lost perhaps their most valuable player in 2014, catcher Russell Martin.
MILWAUKEE BREWERS
2014 record: 82-80
Additions: 1B Adam Lind, IF Luis Jimenez
Losses: 1B Lyle Overbay (Free agent), 1B/3B Mark Reynolds (Cardinals), 2B Rickie Weeks (Free agent), LHP Zach Duke (White Sox), RHP Tom Gorzelanny (Tigers), RHP Francisco Rodriguez (Free agent), RHP Marco Estrada (Blue Jays)
Projected payroll: $107.9 million
Comment: The Brewers seem to be taking the path of the 2013 Reds – that their team was constructed properly but just got some bad breaks, so they’ve decided not to make any changes. We know how well that worked in Cincinnati last season.
CINCINNATI REDS
2014 record: 76-86
Additions: OF Marlon Byrd, RH Anthony DeSclafani, IF Eugenio Suarez
Losses: RHP Mat Latos (Marlins), RHP Alfredo Simon (Tigers), IF Jack Hannahan (Korea), IF Ramon Santiago (free agent), OF Ryan Ludwick (free agent), RHP Logan Ondrusek (Japan), OF Chris Heisey (Dodgers).
Projected payroll: $117.7 million
Comment: The Reds added Marlon Byrd to try to add some pop from the left field spot, the season comes down to the health and production of Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. If those two are productive, the team has a chance. If not, the All-Star Game in July could be an open house for trade partners.
CHICAGO CUBS
2014 record: 73-89
Additions: LHP Jon Lester, C Miguel Montero, C David Ross, 2B Tommy La Stella, OF Chris Denorfia, RHP Jason Hammel, RHP Jason Motte
Losses: RHP Carlos Villanueva (free agent), RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (Rangers), RHP Wesley Wright (Orioles), C/1B Ryan Lavarnway (Orioles), OF Justin Ruggiano (Mariners),
Projected payroll*: $109.5 million
Comment: The Cubs have no shortage of talent – but now they also have expectations that may have risen higher and faster than even their top prospects. Heralded prospect Kris Bryant should make his big league debut in 2015.
Estimated payroll comes from Baseball-Reference.com.

The Nationals are a very, scary team…
The Nationals’ potential 2015 rotation is impressive, with all five having posted an ERA of 3.57 or lower and with four in the top 20 in all of baseball in strikeout-to-walk ratio.
2014 Statistics
……………………ERA……K-BB
Max Scherzer 3.15 252-63
Jordan Zimmermann 2.66 182-29
Stephen Strasburg 3.14 242-43
Doug Fister 2.41 98-24
Gio Gonzalez 3.57 162-56

Could be worse. Cards could have gotten Scherzer. Potentially we only have to face him twice. Hopefully 2 more times after that for the NL Championship. I can dream can’t I.

“The deal is for $210 million with half deferred, according to multiple reports. Scherzer reportedly will receive $15 million annually for 14 years. The deal also includes a record $50 million signing bonus, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.”
I think this pretty much seals the fate of the Reds signing Cueto. He’ll be worth a
great deal come July; if we aren’t in the hunt.

Everyone pretty much has said that this contract takes Cueto away from the Reds,saddens me that once again the present financial setup of the majors strikes its ugly head, and shows the disparity between clubs. It is what it is.

At A/S break, if Reds out of it, trade Votto, Bruce, Philips. Keep Cueto and Chapman. Make Chapman starter and build from there.

Stephen Strasburg: If Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo is indeed looking to deal from his huge pitching surplus, the prevailing thought says Zimmermann is a primary candidate to be traded because of his looming free agency and the lack of progress in Washington’s negotiations with the right-hander. But USA Today’s John Perrotto tweeted the odd man out may end up being Strasburg, who is “very much available” and that “both sides believe it is time to move on.”
………………….
One of our NL Central foes may be on the outs for Scherzer, but may have another opportunity for a front line.

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