Your non-Powerball numbers

The Reds revealed their Spring Training roster to this point. It can certainly have some additions or subtractions ahead of Feb. 18 when pitchers and catchers report.

Here it is below in numerical order. A couple of guys switched numbers, including Michael Lorenzen going from No. 50 to Todd Frazier’s former No. 21.

2 Cozart, Zack……………………………INF
3 De Jesus Jr., Ivan……………………INF
4 Phillips, Brandon……………………..INF
6 Hamilton, Billy………………………….OF
7 Suarez, Eugenio………………………INF
9 Peraza, Jose…………………………..INF
16 Barnhart, Tucker………………………..C
19 Votto, Joey………………………………1B
21 Lorenzen, Michael………………….RHP
22 Hatcher, Billy…………………..3B coach
23 Duvall, Adam……………………………OF
26 Iglesias, Raisel………………………RHP
28 DeSclafani, Anthony……………….RHP
29 Finnegan, Brandon………………….LHP
30 Cave, Jake………………………………OF
32 Bruce, Jay……………………………….OF
33 Rodriguez, Yorman…………………..OF
34 Bailey, Homer………………………..RHP
35 Riggleman, Jim………….bench coach
36 Wood, Blake………………………….RHP
37 Cabrera, Ramon…………………………C
38 Price, Bryan…………………….manager
39 Mesoraco, Devin………………………..C
40 Holt, Tyler………………………………..OF
41 Mattheus, Ryan*…………………….RHP
43 Schebler, Scott…………………………OF
45 Benavides, Freddie………….1B coach

46 Moscot, Jon…………………………..RHP
47 Lamb, John……………………………LHP
48 Sampson, Keyvius…………………RHP
49 Riggins, Mark…………..pitching coach
51 Allen, Brandon*……………………….INF
52 Cingrani, Tony………………………..LHP
53 Contreras, Carlos…………………..RHP
54 Cotham, Caleb………………………RHP
55 Stephenson, Robert……………….RHP
56 O’Grady, Chris……………………….LHP
57 Jenkins, Mack………….bullpen coach
58 Waldrop, Kyle…………………………..OF
59 Long, Don………………….hitting coach
60 Hoover, J.J……………………………RHP
62 Villarreal, Pedro*……………………RHP
63 Davis, Rookie………………………..RHP
64 Jaramillo, Tony……asst. hitting coach
65 Romano, Sal…………………………RHP
66 Ramirez, JC*…………………………RHP
67 Garrett, Amir…………………………..LHP
68 Skipworth, Kyle………………………….C
69 Duran, Juan……………………………..OF
70 Diaz, Jumbo………………………….RHP
71 Johnson, Stephen………………….RHP
72 Stefanski, Mike………..catching coach
73 Hayes, Drew*………………………..RHP
74 Magill, Matt*………………………….RHP
75 Weiss, Zack*…………………………RHP
76 Winker, Jesse*…………………………OF
77 Adleman, Tim*……………………….RHP
78 Travieso, Nick*………………………RHP
79 Jagielo, Eric*…………………………..INF
80 Wallach, Chad*………………………….C
81 Melville, Tim*…………………………RHP
82 Daal, Calten*…………………………..INF
83 Morris, A.J.*…………………………..RHP
84 Reed, Cody*…………………………..LHP
85 Ervin, Phillip*……………………………OF
86 Somsen, Layne*…………………….RHP
87 Hughes, Dustin……….bullpen catcher
88 Hudson, Joe*……………………………..C
89 Blandino, Alex*………………………..INF
90 Diaz, Dayan*…………………………RHP

* = non-roster invite


Let fans of other teams read this roster and gnash their teeth in fear and envy!

They’ll probably just forfiet all the games against the Reds rather than be embarrased.

What’s the fascination with no-power, speedsters?
Posted on 01/12/2016 by DOUG GRAY
The Cincinnati Reds made a high money signing on the international market yesterday. Steve touched on it last night here at Redleg Nation. I wrote about it over at my site as well. The team reportedly agreed to terms with Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez for a $6M signing bonus, which turns into somewhere between $11-12M after paying the penalty for going over their allowed amount. It will also keep them from spending more than $300,000 on any single signing in the next two signing periods. But, that isn’t the point of this article.

The point of the article is the Reds seemingly chasing down a bunch of players, or having faith in players who seem to lack any ability to hit the ball over the fence but are very fast. Alfredo Rodriguez fits that profile. Billy Hamilton fits that profile. Jose Peraza fits that profile. It would seem that the Reds plans are to have all three of these players as a part of their future.

Billy Hamilton may have the most power of all three, and that really puts things into perspective on just how little power the group has between them. You obviously don’t have to hit 20 home runs to be valuable, but it’s tough to provide offensive value if you can’t hit 10. Pitchers simply don’t have any reason to fear you without the threat of homers, so they can pound the strikezone against you. It limits the amount of walks you will have, making the player rely entirely on their ability to hit singles in large quantities. Of course, if you are a singles hitter, the outfield can play in and thus makes it easier for them to turn hits into outs as they have less ground to cover.

I started wondering, which players who rely on the ability to hit only singles were over the last three seasons. I decided to head over to Fangraphs and look for all players in the last three seasons who had at least 200 plate appearances in a single season. There were 1057 players in this sample, but I decided to look only at players with an isolated power (SLG-AVG) below .080 to limit things to just about every player who has next-to-no-power. That group is made up of only 105 players, representing just under 10% of all players in baseball.

HALF of that list of players was worth 0.0 WAR or worse. 82 of the 105 players on this list were worth LESS than 1.0 WAR. Seven of the players were worth more than 2.0 WAR and three of those players were elite level defenders, all representing the top three WAR values in the list.

To die further into the list, HALF of that list posted an on-base percentage under .300 and 66 of them were under .310. 92 of the players had a slugging percentage under .350. Essentially, the large majority of the group of players that were able to make it through the minor leagues with absolutely no power, beating the odds of those who couldn’t, are still incredibly unlikely to be even average big leaguers.

The odds tell us that these types of players struggle to become everyday contributors of value in the Major Leagues. Yet the Cincinnati Reds seem to have a plan that involves three of these players in their lineup at one time. It’s a real struggle to put together the line of thinking here. There’s no problem with having these kinds of players in the organization. But to plan on them being something before they’ve proven that they are the outlier to the sample rather than the rule, seems very confusing. You can’t steal second base or third base, or score a run, if you can’t first get on first base. As a Reds fan, I want them to succeed and hope that the Reds can beat the odds with these kinds of players, but it just doesn’t seem likely. One of these players working out and turning into an average everyday player would significantly beat the odds.

Thanks Neb for the many excellent articles you have made available on this blog. Written by people with excellent knowledge and ready access to all types of statistical knowledge at their fingertips. They seem to point out that a rebuild without the proper building blocks or foundation will fail. The person responsible for the failure will be the architect who designed it poorly. I believe that is a management team effort. I’m beginning to believe the rebuild is floundering and 2017, 2018 is fast becoming 2020,2021 if at all. But as I’ve said before, I love the Reds and baseball, so I’ll be watching and rooting for the home team.

Happy to keep us informed.

Alfredo Rodriguez signing would be another blunder by Cincinnati Reds

Robb Hoff January 12, 2016 Cincinnati Reds, MLB, NL Central
Reports that the Cincinnati Reds are in the process of signing Cuban SS Alfredo Rodriguez would confirm that the Reds are completely lost as an organization.

The idea that any positional player who had just three extra base hits in 304 plate appearances at any level is worth a $6M signing bonus is ludicrous. Rodriguez may become the best fielding shortstop in the history of baseball. But if he can’t hit or get on-base, he’s almost worthless.

It’s even worse that the total cost for signing Rodriguez could run to $12M based upon the fine the Reds would have to pay for exceeding their international bonus signing pool of $2.873M.

Rodriguez posted a slash of .265/.301/.284 in the Serie Nacional Cuban league last year. Despite his anemia at the plate, Rodriguez was named Rookie of the Year of the league. He was also league Gold Glove winner at short.

The Rodriguez acquisition would be yet another that costs an extremely high price for a player whose rise through the Reds’ ranks is highly questionable. The Reds squandered the face of their franchise in Todd Frazier for a key player in Jose Peraza who at the very least is blocked at the big-league level for the next two years.

The 21-year-old Rodriguez won’t be joining the Reds any time soon. He’ll likely start at the Low-A level. The Reds don’t have too much available to them in the way of minor league shortstops. So the position will be up for grabs once the Reds are able to trade starting shortstop Zack Cozart.

Among their prospects at the position, former first-round draft pick Alex Blandino is probably the most promising. Blandino is currently on the Double-A roster but is poised to spend most of the year at Triple-A, unless the Reds try to have Blandino revert to his position in college at third base.

Blandino has a career .365 OBP with an .808 OPS. He is capable of hitting more than three extra-base hits in a game, much less in a season. Unfortunately, Blandino has just a .954 fielding percentage in 151 minor league games at short.

The Reds have tried Blandino on a limited basis at second base. But that position would seem earmarked for Peraza.

As for Rodriguez, the Reds might have been better off scouting another Alfredo Rodriguez, who played last year in independent league ball. He was able to hit more than three extra-base hits last year playing for Joilet. And he wouldn’t cost anywhere near $12M.

Despite the fact Aroldis Chapman posted sub-2.00 earned run averages in 2014 and 2015, his arrival all but blocked Dellin Betances’ path to the closer role. Girardi confirmed Monday that Chapman will have first crack at ninth-inning duties.

By Mark Sheldon / | @m_sheldon
CINCINNATI — Two Reds — shortstop Zack Cozart and reliever J.J. Hoover — were among 156 Major League players who formally filed for salary arbitration ahead of a deadline on Tuesday.

Cozart is eligible for arbitration for the second time, and this is Hoover’s first year of eligibility. The next deadline is Friday, when clubs and eligible players exchange their desired salary figures for a 2016 contract.
Players with at least three seasons of Major League service time, and fewer than six seasons, are generally eligible for arbitration. While the player is still controlled by the club during this time, contract negotiations can stretch throughout the winter and into the start of Spring Training.
Hearings are slated to begin next month, but their scheduled dates are often not publicized. Negotiations can continue up until the final minute before the arbitration hearing is slated to start.
Once the hearing begins, a three-person panel listens to the cases presented by the team’s counsel and the player’s agent or counsel. Usually one day later, the panel determines who prevailed and the player is automatically bound to a one-year contract at the determined figure. The Reds have had a long track record of avoiding a hearing against their own players. The last time it happened was in 2004, when Cincinnati won its case against pitcher Chris Reitsma.
Cozart avoided arbitration last year when he signed a one-year, $2.35 million contract. The 30-year-old batted .258/.310/.459 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs in 53 games last season. He suffered a season-ending right knee injury in June that required surgery to repair tears in both the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments.
Whether he goes to a hearing or not, the 28-year-old Hoover will likely receive a significant raise from the $535,000 he made in 2015. Last season, Hoover was 8-2 with a 2.94 ERA in 67 appearances as he established himself as the Reds’ eighth-inning setup man. Over 64 1/3 innings, he walked 31, struck out 52 and posted a 1.17 WHIP. Nine of his 12 inherited runners were left stranded. Hoover is hoping to become the team’s closer in 2016 to replace Aroldis Chapman, who was traded to the Yankees.

Arbitration projections:
Player, (years of service), 2015 salary, projected 2016 salary…
Zack Cozart (4.084) — $2.35MM – $2.9MM
J.J. Hoover (3.102) — $535K – $1.1MM

The signing of Alfredo Rodriguez seems a little odd more so because of the position to me. I care nothing for power but only OBP which is still pretty low for the price. I like the defense and speed. Who knows where these players will end up on the field. The Reds may be doing a Hamilton move to OF for some of these top ranked middle infield position players. As of now I see 4 top ranked players coming up to for now fill one spot 3B. Would love to know their strategy since we need OFers right now.

I think they have Suarez already penciled in at 3rd base…
as for outfielders, they might well believe they have someone
already on board…

# Name B/T Ht Wt DOB
32 Jay Bruce L/L 6’3″ 225lbs 4/3/87
30 Jake Cave L/L 6’0″ 200lbs 12/4/92
69 Juan Duran R/R 6’7″ 230lbs 9/2/91
85 Phillip Ervin R/R 5’10” 205lbs 7/15/92
6 Billy Hamilton S/R 6’0″ 160lbs 9/9/90
40 Tyler Holt R/R 5’10” 200lbs 3/10/89
33 Yorman Rodriguez R/R 6’2″ 210lbs 8/15/92
43 Scott Schebler L/R 6’0″ 225lbs 10/6/90
58 Kyle Waldrop L/L 6’2″ 215lbs 11/26/91
76 Jesse Winker L/L 6’3″ 215lbs 8/17/93
(…add Duvall as a potential as well)
However, as you inferred, only Jocketty and Co. know what
they are truly thinking/planning.

BTW…I have read where a writer or two have already said that if the season started tomorrow…Schebler would probably start in LF.

Others have said it will be Yorman. Who knows? Might want to wait to see what spring training brings.

One of my previous posts…
Who plays LF? This year’s LF may just be a placeholder until Jesse Winker, who will start out at AAA this season, is deemed ready. The best candidate may very well be newly acquired Scott Schebler. Yorman Rodriguez, who is out of options and had some success at AAA last season, will get a long look as well. Adam Duvall, a CI throughout the minors, began getting a look in LF last season and will most likely be in the mix as well. As mentioned above, Mesoraco could be a wild card here also. The Reds evaluators have some more big decisions to make on prospects in the OF as well.

Excellent article. Again stating the same evaluation. Appears the Reds have the experts scratching their heads. Me too.

What about Phillips? How will the Reds play it?
I would think they would start out with Phillips, but at every opportunity they
would play their new 2nd baseman. Can’t see the team playing Phillips for
two full years. I also think he made a huge mistake not signing with the Nats.
From a ‘rebuild’ to a ‘WS contender’; could have made a case to extend his
contract; zero chance in Cincy. From full time play to being benched whenever
possible. Coming to work in Cincy everyday won’t be remotely close to going
to work in DC. Maybe another team will give him a shot.

I hope you’re right and they give him a taste of the bench. But they also need to showcase him for other teams who may come up with a dire need for a 2nd baseman. Personally, I hope he rots on the bench.

March 15, 2015 – Ranking and evaluation…
#17. Cincinnati Reds

2014 Rank: #17.
2013 Rank: #15.

1. Robert Stephenson, rhp (23) 6. Anthony DeSclafani, rhp
2. Raisel Iglesias, rhp (58) 7. Amir Garrett, lhp
3. Jesse Winker, of (47) 8. Nick Travieso, rhp
4. Michael Lorenzen, rhp 9. Aristides Aquino, of
5. Nick Howard, rhp 10. Yorman Rodriguez, of
How They Got Here: The Reds have had trouble developing depth but have focused on pitchers and have found big arms with athleticism in diverse ways, drafting college closers (Michael Lorenzen, Nick Howard) and basketball players (Amir Garrett) as well as getting them via trade (Anthony DeSclafani, RHP Jonathon Crawford).

High-Ceiling Sleeper: OF Junior Arias has not moved quickly, and a broken leg caused him to miss most of the 2014 season. He’s moved from the infield to center field, which the Reds hope unlocks his power bat, which produced 15 home runs in 2013.

2015 Rookies: Cuban Raisel Iglesias has the arm strength and four-pitch mix to succeed either in a starter role or as a high-leverage reliever. DeSclafani, acquired from the Marlins in the Mat Latos trade, also was competing for a rotation spot.

A 26th-rounder out of Des Moines Area CC in 2010, Schebler took a $300,000 bonus at the signing deadline and was one of the Dodgers’ most productive hitting prospects until he was shipped to the Cincinnati Reds in the three-team deal that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox. Schebler led his leagues in extra-base hits and total bases for two years in a row and made his big league debut in 2015.

Scouts don’t fully buy into Schebler because they think he succeeds more with strength than bat speed. However, he keeps finding a way to make consistent hard contact and has gotten better at controlling the strike zone. He has solid speed as well, though he’s not much of a basestealer.

Schebler’s jumps and routes in the outfield leave something to be desired, so he’s better suited for a corner. His below-average arm relegates him to left field, but his bat still gives him the upside of a big league regular there.
19G in majors

The Red Sox announced a list of non-roster invitees on Wednesday, including well-traveled outfielder Brennan Boesch. Jon Heyman reports that Boesch’s base salary in the Majors would be $1MM, were he to make the club (Twitter link). Boesch is repped by CAA Sports.

Boesch, 31 in April, was the Tigers primary left fielder from 2010-12 but has bounced from the Yankees to the Angels to the Reds in the years to follow. In 94 plate appearances with Cincinnati this past season, the left-handed hitter batted just .146/.191/.202 — a far cry from his peak levels back in 2011, when he slashed .283/.341/.458 with 16 homers in 472 plate appearances. He’ll serve as outfield depth in Boston.

Whoopee! We signed another outfielder. No kidding.
•Outfielder Donald Lutz has a minor league deal to return to the Reds, Mark Sheldon of reports on Twitter. He won’t get a camp invite in the agreement. The first player to reach the majors after coming up in German baseball, Lutz was released by Cincinnati last summer after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Multiple Hurdles Still in Way of Potential Bruce Trade
Thursday, Jan. 14
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick couldn’t identify any possible suitors but reported the Reds “are still listening on Jay Bruce.” Crasnick also passed along an email from general manager Dick Williams:

‘We are still evaluating options. We do not consider our offseason to be finished. Deciding to focus on the long-term means you have to constantly evaluate opportunities. Trading [Todd] Frazier and [Aroldis] Chapman certainly begins to move us in the direction we need to go, as a small market team. Once you start down this road, it is important to continue with the tough decisions and not pull up in the middle of the project. That being said, we cannot force deals so I cannot guarantee we will do more.”

Dealing Bruce will be much easier said than done. After a career year in 2013, the 28-year-old has struggled at the plate. He hit a career-low 18 home runs in 2014 while driving in 66 runs and batting .217, and his numbers picked up only slightly in 2015.

Bruce had a slash line of .226/.294/.434 with 26 homers and 87 RBI. However, his .261 true average (TAv), which is league average, was a little more indicative of his performance at the plate, per Baseball Prospectus.

Still, Bruce is due $12.5 million in 2016 and has a $1 million buyout for 2017. Plenty of teams may balk at committing at least $13.5 million to him after the last two seasons. According to Spotrac, he also has a no-trade clause that applies to eight teams: the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona Diamondbacks, Miami Marlins, Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Twins.

In order to facilitate a trade, the Reds might have to concede some value coming their way.

It was encouraging to actually see something from our new GM. Liked what he said and hope they’re successful in moving Jay and Brandon for that matter.


The Arizona Diamondbacks are signing the 31-year-old LeCure, according to multiple reports, to a minor-league deal.

Last season, Lecure didn’t make the Reds’ big-league roster out of Spring Training, and pitched for most of the season at Triple-A Louisville. He appeared in 19 games for the Reds in 2015, posting a 3.15 ERA.

The Reds selected LeCure in the fourth round of the 2005 amateur draft.

In 250 appearances over six seasons with the Reds, LeCure was 10-16 with a 3.51 ERA. He allowed 31 home runs in 320 2/3 innings.

In 2013, he posted a career-best 2.66 ERA over 63 appearances and recorded the only save thus far of his big-league career.

One of my favorites. Wish him well. Lost the zip on his fastball. hope he returns to form. A comeback at age 31 is a possibility, but doesn’t fit in to the rebuild.

From – Rosecrans
The Reds signed catcher Jordan Pacheco to a minor-league deal with an invitation to Major League camp.

Pacheco, who will be 30 when pitchers and catchers report, played in 29 games for the Diamondbacks last season, hitting .242/.333/.333 in 78 plate appearances. Pacheco played in 58 games for Arizona’s Class AAA Reno team.

A career .278/.317/.372 hitter, he was sixth in Rookie of the Year voting with the Rockies in 2012, the only year that he played more than 100 games. The Diamondbacks selected him off of waivers in 2014.

The Reds’ roster is at 61 for the spring. Last year, the Reds started the spring with 64 players in camp.

Pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, Ariz., on Feb. 18.

Shortstop Zack Cozart is in agreement with the Reds for an undisclosed sum, per a team announcement. He projected at $2.9MM in his second year of eligibility after a promising start to the 2015 season was cut short by a serious knee injury.

Good deal. Hope he’s 100% healthy come April. Also hope Larkin continues to help him like he did last spring.

The terms of Cozart’s deal are not known.
Hoover submitted a figure of $1.4 million and Cincinnati countered with $1.225 million.

Reds shortstop Zack Cozart reached agreement on a $2,925,000 million, one-year contract to avoid salary arbitration.

The 30-year-old Cozart, who received a raise from his $2.35 million salary last season, batted .258 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs in 53 games and was off to a great start while healthy before a right knee injury in June ended his season and required reconstructive surgery. The three previous seasons he proved his durability by playing 138, 151 and 147 games.

Now I just learned there is no truth that the Reds signed this young SS from Cuba which is just like I figured. If it will help the team this GM/Front Office, whoever is in charge and most of the time it seems no one is, they will mess it up and the player signs with some one else, such as the Cardinals, Jockettys team. Yes Bruce will stay with the team since his batting keeps going down more every year, and even IF a trade was made we fans all know the Reds would not get decent value in return. Just look at the returns in the Frazier-Chapman trades. Listening to ALL the baseball experts the Reds got far less value in return for two top All Stars. Yes, Chapman has this red flag over his head, but the police have closed the case, plus this doesn’t lessen Chapman’s pitching ability. But the good old great GM Walt Jocketty continues to get less and less for the teams money & players. It seems the Owner/CEO is content with having a last place team in 2015 and will continue to have for many, many years to come. It is really a shame.

Didn’t realize they didn’t sign Rodrieguez. Glad they didn’t, if it’s true.

By Mark Sheldon and Jesse Sanchez / | January 14th, 2016
Several reports earlier this week indicated that the Reds had agreed to a $6 million deal with 21-year-old Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez, but no deal has been completed, according to Reds general manager Dick Williams.

“It’s a player that just got cleared by MLB,” Williams said. “Now teams can begin to negotiate with him. We’ve seen him. Other teams have seen him. We have interest in him. No deal is done.”
Rodriguez was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball on Monday, but contrary to earlier reports, no deal has been completed or is just pending a physical.
“It’s not that far along,” Williams said.
Several hurdles appeared to remain before Rodriguez could be officially signed by Cincinnati.
The 2014-15 Serie Nacional Rookie of the Year in Cuba, the 5-foot-10, 195-pound Rodriguez is a glove-first prospect with good speed (6.6 seconds in the 60-yard dash) and excellent range. He’s been described as a high-energy player who is making progress at the plate. Rodriguez is expected to be an everyday player when he gets called up to the big leagues, likely after some time in the Minor Leagues.
Because of his age and experience, Rodriguez is subject to the international signing guidelines, and his signing would thrust the Reds into the maximum penalty: a 100 percent tax on the overage and the inability to sign a prospect for more than $300,000 during the international signing period that starts on July 2, 2016. It’s a significant commitment, especially when you consider that Cincinnati is on track to have the second-largest bonus pool to spend on international prospects in 2016 because of the team’s record in ’15.
The Reds’ overall pool total for this year’s signing period was $2,873,000, and the club narrowly stayed below that amount while signing 20 international prospects before committing to Rodriguez. Now, they’ll have to pay Rodriguez’s $6 million bonus and an additional $6 million in penalty.
How Rodriguez fits into the club’s plans is to be determined.
Zack Cozart, 30, who had his season cut short when he tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his right knee last June, is listed as the club’s starting shortstop. He is expected to arrive in Goodyear, Ariz., for Spring Training completely healthy. There’s also Eugenio Suarez, who replaced Cozart at shortstop for 97 games after the injury. Suarez could shift to third base now that Todd Frazier has been traded to the White Sox. Jose Peraza, acquired from the Dodgers in the deal for Frazier, can also play second base and shortstop.
Cozart is also two years away from becoming a free agent.
What’s certain is that the Reds have been successful with top Cuban talent in recent years, as evidenced by their signings of Aroldis Chapman (six years, $30.5 million in 2010) and pitcher Raisel Iglesias (seven years, $27 million in ’14).

Heres how contracts are often announced:
The Baltimore Orioles and Chris Davis have reached agreement on a seven-year, $161 million contract. The deal, pending medical review, is the largest in Orioles franchise history.
Yet, here are the quiet details:
Chris Davis contract structure: $17m annual salary 2016-2022. Annual payments $3.5m 2023-32, then $1.4m 2033-37. No interest on deferrals.

Impediments for trading Bruce….
Best of the rest: Last call for free agents
Intriguing names remain on market as Spring Training approaches
By Doug Miller /
The days are counting down to Spring Training. The blue chips of free agency are coming off the board, piece by piece. But as we get closer and closer to pitchers and catchers reporting (less than a month!), the urgency of roster completion only gets more intense.

In other words, there’s still plenty of heat on that stove.
The week ahead figures to bring a flurry of activity for the remaining free agents and maybe for a blockbuster trade or three. Here are some of the names that might hit the headlines.

Justin Upton: Upton is 28 years old and is coming off a 26-home run, 81-RBI season even in a down year (for him) while playing for the Padres, who call pitcher-friendly Petco Park home. That makes him a hot commodity who figures to not be on the open market for much longer. Upton makes sense for a number of teams that could use more offense, including the Angels, Rangers, Cardinals, Tigers and Mets, and we shouldn’t be surprised if a mystery team jumps into the fray, especially if the interested clubs turn to Upton after striking out on the next guy on this list.
Yoenis Cespedes: The free-agent outfielder could be the first remaining star player to sign. Sunday brought a report from ESPN that upwards of 10 teams are speaking to Cespedes and his representatives. He began the 2015 season with the Tigers and ended in the World Series with the Mets. The Orioles would appear to be out now that they dished out seven years and $161 million to Chris Davis and demand for Cespedes indicates he’ll likely land a big multiyear contract. The Astros were the latest team mentioned in the mix, with MLB Network insider Peter Gammons tweeting it Sunday afternoon. Or, according to recent reports, it might be the Mets or Tigers again. Then again, it’s possible that the Angels, Braves or White Sox could sign Cespedes. All have been reported as interested.
Ian Desmond: Here’s a 30-year-old shortstop who’s averaged 22 homers per season for the last four years. That in itself should be quite attractive for teams looking for that type of production in the middle of the field and the middle of the lineup. Drawbacks to a long-term commitment to Desmond would be his growing strikeout rate and the loss of a Draft pick, but he’s still a rarity with pop at a premium position. The Padres opted for Alexei Ramirez last week. We’ll see where Desmond goes this week.
Yovani Gallardo: He’s one of the premier starting pitchers left on the board, and while the Royals seemed like a good fit, they signed Ian Kennedy to a five-year, $70 million deal, so they’re out. Don’t forget about Toronto. While the Blue Jays might not be thrilled to part with the Draft pick that would be a required surrender for acquiring the services of the durable right-hander, who turns 30 next month, they could use another solid arm to round out a pitching rotation that lost departed free agent David Price to the American League East-rival Red Sox.
Howie Kendrick: Second basemen Ben Zobrist and Daniel Murphy have already come off the board to the tune of big multiyear bucks. Kendrick, a career .293 hitter who batted .360 with runners in scoring position for the Dodgers last year, should be in line for something similar as the best remaining available player at the position. The last team that has been publicly involved in conversations with Kendrick is the D-backs, and Kendrick told he thinks it would be a good fit.
“Playing with the Dodgers was fun,” Kendrick said. “I was hoping to go back there. I just want to be in a winning situation. The Diamondbacks are a team that’s going to be really good.”
Dexter Fowler: He had 17 homers and 20 stolen bases in his year-29 season for the Cubs in 2015, so Fowler shapes up as a less-expensive, more finesse-oriented alternative for clubs unwilling to invest what it will take to land Upton or Cespedes. Chicago’s recently reported that the Rangers, Mariners, Indians, White Sox and Cubs are potential landing spots for Fowler.
Tim Lincecum: He’s a two-time Cy Young Award winner and three-time World Series winner, but is now a question mark who’s coming back from hip surgery. That means teams might not check in on the right-hander until he organizes a showcase or two to show he’s healthy. But a pitcher as well-known and accomplished as Lincecum also might already be deep in talks for a short-term, incentive-heavy contract.
Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon and/or Corey Dickerson: The Rockies are rebuilding, they want to add young pitching and they recently signed free-agent outfielder Gerardo Parra. That means there’s one too many starting players, all of whom hit left-handed, slated to roam the nether reaches of Coors Field. This means any of these three desirable pieces could be available in a trade. reported last week that the Rockies have been in talks with the Orioles and Tigers regarding these players, which spices up the week even more.
Other available free agents of note: David Freese, 3B; Doug Fister, RHP; Mat Latos, RHP; Austin Jackson, OF; Steve Pearce, OF/IF; Justin Morneau, 1B; Pedro Alvarez, 1B/3B; Tyler Clippard, RHP; Tommy Hunter, RHP

Although I think we need to continue to clean house…
this comparison is very interesting…
2015 – $14.5MM
2016 – FA
2015 stats: 150G, 26 HR, 81 RBI, 85 R, .251/.336/.454/.790
FLD% – .988
2015 – $12MM
2016 – $12.5MM
2015 stats: 157G, 26 HR, 87 RBI, 72 R, .226/.294/.434/.729
FLD% – .990

Upton – 27 years old
Bruce – 28 years old

Justin Upton, Detroit Tigers agree to six-year, $132.75 million deal.

Marlins Made Marcell Ozuna Trade Offers To Rangers, Reds
By Mark Polishuk | January 17, 2016 at 9:36pm CST

The Marlins made separate trade offers to the Rangers and Reds for Marcell Ozuna earlier this winter, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. The Fish wanted starting pitching back in both proposed deals, and it seems as if there was little-to-no room for further negotiations in these offers; Jackson writes that the Marlins “decided internally that they would trade [Ozuna] only if those teams met their exact asking price.”

It should be noted that these offers were both made before Miami signed Wei-Yin Chen, so the team’s need for rotation help is no longer quite as dire. Still, as the Marlins feel “a team can never have enough pitching,” Jackson thinks the Fish would revisit trading Ozuna if Texas or Cincinnati agreed to their demands.

Ozuna has been mentioned in rumors for months as a major trade chip Miami could use to acquire at least one solid young rotation piece. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria reportedly had developed some bad blood with Ozuna and agent Scott Boras over Ozuna’s demotion to Triple-A (which Boras claimed was done to stall Ozuna’s service time and not for developmental reasons) so it was seen as just a matter of time before a trade was finalized.

While at least 10 teams showed interest and at least one deal (with the Mariners) was heavily discussed, however, the tide had seemingly turned towards Ozuna staying in Miami. Personal issues aside, Loria and the front office were insisting on a very big return for Ozuna and weren’t willing to just give such a promising young outfielder away. New manager Don Mattingly and new hitting coach Barry Bonds were also lobbying to keep Ozuna, which undoubtedly played a factor. Since Chen is also a Boras client, it stands to reason that relations between Loria and the agent have also somewhat improved.

The Rangers have been connected to Ozuna in trade rumors for months, though it’s something of an imperfect fit since while Texas has some intriguing young arms (i.e. Chi Chi Gonzalez, Nick Martinez), they could use those reinforcements themselves in the Major League rotation. Delino DeShields also emerged as a good center fielder for the Rangers in 2015 so they didn’t have a huge need at the position, though Ozuna would’ve been an upgrade.

This is the first time we’ve heard of the Reds attached to Ozuna, though their interest makes sense given their outfield needs. Right fielder Jay Bruce is entering his last guaranteed year under contract and is available for trades, while the Reds are currently planning to use a platoon of unproven youngsters in left. Of course, Billy Hamilton is already Cincinnati’s regular center fielder, and he’s shown such a spectacular glove that if Ozuna did join the Reds, he’d be the one moving to left.

While the Reds have been in rebuild mode by dealing Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Marlon Byrd, Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier in the last seven months, Ozuna (25) is young enough to fit Walt Jocketty’s plan to quickly reload and contend again by 2017. Even moreso than Texas, however, Cincinnati is lacking in pitching depth — they were using an all-rookie rotation for much of last season after Cueto and Leake were dealt. The Reds have righties Robert Stephenson and Keury Mella and southpaws Amir Garrett and Cody Reed among their top prospects, and the club may prefer to see if those young arms can develop into long-term pieces for their uncertain rotation rather than deal one or more of them for Ozuna.

Cincinnati Reds turn down trade for OF Marcell Ozuna
Doug Gray January 18, 2016

The Cincinnati Reds have reportedly turned down a trade from the Miami Marlins for outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Buried at the bottom of an article over at the Miami Herald, Barry Jackson notes that the Marlins were looking for starting pitching in return for the outfielder. It’s not noted as to whether it was prospect starting pitching or big league starting pitching though.

Ozuna had a big 2014 season where he hit .269/.317/.455 as a center fielder with 23 home runs, but that season has been bookended by two lesser seasons where he posted a .693 and .691 OPS with big downgrades in power in both of those two seasons. While he would be an upgrade over Billy Hamilton at the plate, the downgrade in defense would be big and the baserunning would take another big hit. The Reds, of course, could use an every day left fielder and that could be something that Ozuna could slide into, particularly if he can find some more of the power he showed in 2014 as a 23-year-old.

The match between the Marlins, who are seeking pitching, and the Reds who seem to have a lot of young starting pitching depth makes plenty of sense. I can’t imagine the Reds moving Raisel Iglesias or Anthony DeSclafani in a deal right now. But beyond those two, the Reds are loaded with starting pitching prospects that they could potentially move in order to upgrade their lineup. Nine of their Top 15 prospects are starting pitching prospects. While the team probably doesn’t want to trade one of their top pitching prospects, it takes talent to get talent. Let’s take a quick look at who those nine prospects are from the Top 15:

RHP Robert Stephenson
RHP Nick Travieso
LHP Amir Garrett
LHP Cody Reed
RHP Sal Romano
RHP Keury Mella
LHP John Lamb
RHP Tyler Mahle
RHP Rookie Davis
The article notes that the Marlins were only willing to make a move for their exact asking price, but doesn’t mention what that price was.

Don’t touch that kid Ozuna. First I don’t think he is going to pan out at all or anywhere near what the Marlins are acting. Second if he is so good why sell now after a bad season. Thank goodness the Reds let this go. Will be able to grab him for next to nothing in another year after another bad season.

30 days to P&CR. 30 days of the phone not ringing or will the team make some moves? Is the suspense killing us? Last year this time we thought if the Reds could catch a little magic … This year, they’ll need a miracle. But it’s baseball, and I say, bring it!

And I say, bring the advent calendar on. I’m ready.

Who Is the Shortstop of the Future?
Posted on 01/18/2016 by NICK CARRINGTON
In 1987, the Reds gave over 400 plate appearances to two young middle infielders competing to become the Reds next shortstop. Both players were high draft picks and had numerous supporters in and out of the organization. After the 1987 season, the Reds traded one of these talented youngsters to the Royals while crowning the other the shortstop of the future. The player the Reds traded was Kurt Stillwell who went on to play for five teams over nine seasons. The player the Reds chose to keep – Barry Larkin.

Almost 29 years later, the Reds are approaching another crossroads at the shortstop position; only this time, they have more options and arguably more questions that need answered.

When the 2015 season mercifully ended, the conventional wisdom was that Eugenio Suarez was the shortstop of the future. Sure, Zack Cozart would have a chance to reclaim his old job after rehabbing another leg injury but long term, Suarez seemed to be the guy. Then, the Reds traded Todd Frazier, and Walt Jocketty promptly stated that Suarez would play third base this coming season. In the trade, the Reds also added a middle infielder, Jose Peraza, who they expect to contribute soon.

Then, the Reds reportedly signed Cuban infielder Alfredo Rodriguez, an apparent defensive whiz at shortstop. While that deal hasn’t been confirmed, his potential signing adds more confusion to a crowded middle infield.

Now, the shortstop picture long term doesn’t look so clear. With Frazier gone, the Reds don’t have a clear third basemen of the future, and Suarez’s presence there this season would at least open up the possibility that he stays there. The other four potential candidates to fill the shortstop hole long term are Cozart, Peraza, Rodriguez, and top prospect Alex Blandino.

Between the five candidates, the Reds don’t have a surefire solution at short. Suarez, who played the position for half a season in 2015, struggled defensively at times, committing 19 errors and ending the year with a -12.9 UZR. He certainly showed the potential to play the position, but he has to cut down on his mistakes to stay there.

The book on Suarez when the Reds traded for him was that he could be an average defender at short. If he does that, his bat plays well enough to play shortstop. If Suarez had enough plate appearances last year, his 105 wRC+ (runs created) would have rated third among all shortstops in the Major Leagues. His average, OBP, slugging%, and ISO would have all rated in the top ten among shortstops.

While the bat plays well at shortstop, it doesn’t play nearly as well at third base, traditionally a power position. Suarez would have rated 15th in wRC+, 16th in OBP and 18th in slugging among third baseman last season.

Peraza has spent most of the last two seasons playing second base. But before that, he played a lot of shortstop in the minors. Baseball Prospectus suggests he could still be an “above average regular” at shortstop. They even say he has “a very good chance of becoming an everyday shortstop.”

That’s encouraging and yet, he hasn’t played the position much in a few years. While he could likely adjust back fairly quickly, a trade of Brandon Phillips would almost assuredly put Peraza at second base to start the season instead of reintroducing him to shortstop at AAA. The Phillips’ trade to the Nats died, but with Dick Williams suggesting the Reds are committed to a long-term rebuild, Phillips time as the Reds starting second baseman could be coming to a close rather soon.

Steve covered Peraza’s bat well, and it will only play at second base or shortstop. He has almost no power and much of his value will be tied to his defense and speed. If he is an above average shortstop or excellent second baseman, he could be extremely valuable. He has excellent contact skills, but his ability to get on base is almost completely tied to his batting average. This type of player fails frequently at the major league level.

Alex Blandino has played shortstop more than any other position in the minor leagues. Even so, many experts have major concerns about his ability to stay at short, including our own minor league guru, Doug Gray.

Blandino is probably the least suited to play shortstop long term. He doesn’t have the range the others do and spent most of his college years at third base. His bat could potentially play anywhere on the infield as Fangraphs projects his upside as a .280/.345/.460 with 18-22 homers guy. If the power doesn’t develop, Blandino is probably a second basemen.

Zack Cozart will turn 31 this August and is coming off of major knee surgery. He has always been an excellent defender and a rather poor offensive player. He was having his best offensive season in 2015 before the injury, batting .258/.310/.459 with a 104 wRC+. Even so, I find it hard to put too much faith in 214 plate appearances when we have years of data with which to evaluate Cozart. His career slash line (.245/.284/.375) in over 2000 plate appearances speaks volumes.

And yet Cozart doesn’t need to hit that well to provide value if he can return to playing elite defense. If he does, maybe the Reds see him as the guy for the next four to six years. The move of Suarez to third base means the Reds do not expect the two to compete for the shortstop job this spring. They seemingly want to give Cozart a chance to show that his brief success at the plate last season wasn’t a fluke. After a serious knee injury, the Reds need to find out whether Cozart will ever be the same.

Then there’s Rodriguez. Because of Cozart’s knee injury, Rodriguez might be the best defensive shortstop going forward on this list. While only 21 with the potential for improvement, he might also be the worst hitter of the bunch. Last year, he had four extra-base hits in 304 plate appearances in the Cuban league, an anemic number. He has less power than Billy Hamilton had at age 21.

The Reds must believe that Rodriguez’s offensive game will develop to give him $6 million (if reports are correct). His offense must improve substantially for Rodriguez to ever make any impact for the Reds.

The Reds of course need some of these players to play second or third base. With Frazier gone and Phillips’ time as the Reds second baseman ending relatively soon, the Reds have most of the infield to replace. These decisions have a profound impact on how quickly a rebuilding team returns to winning.

Almost thirty years ago, the Reds decided to keep a shortstop who had just batted .244 in 488 plate appearances. That young man became a Hall of Famer.

Two months ago, Eugenio Suarez was the shortstop of the future. Now, the Reds seemingly have five candidates to man shortstop long term, all with serious question marks. While none of these players are likely Hall of Famers, they all have some level of potential to give us hope. The Reds better get this one right.

By Jim Callis / | @JimCallisMLB | January 19th will unveil its 2016 Top 100 Prospects list on Friday, Jan. 29, on The Top 50 will be revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball’s top 10 prospects at each position.

The endless search for pitching means that most of baseball’s top 10 right-handed pitching prospects were in high demand as amateurs. Five of the 10 hurlers were first-round picks and seven of them received a seven-figure bonus, with Jose De Leon (who signed for $35,000 as a 24th-rounder out of Southern University) the only one of the who emerged from obscurity.

Lucas Giolito repeats as the No. 1 righty from a year ago, while Tyler Glasnow moves up from No. 3 to No. 2. The first four right-handers on our list, a group that also includes Alex Reyes and Jose Berrios, have been developed carefully and patiently by their clubs to this point. That could change in 2016, when all of them could make their big league debut.
1. Lucas Giolito, Nationals
Giolito could have been the first high school righty drafted No. 1 overall, but he injured his right elbow as a senior in 2012 and required Tommy John surgery. That didn’t deter Washington from spending a first-round pick and $2,925,000 on Giolito, and the payoff has been an almost-certain ace with no discernible flaw. Giolito has a fastball that can reach 100 mph, a wipeout curveball and a promising changeup, not to mention command, size and smarts.

2. Tyler Glasnow, Pirates
Hitters never seem to square up Glasnow’s fastball, which sits in the mid-90s with life and arrives on a steep downhill plane because he’s 6-foot-8. It has taken Glasnow some time to grown into his large frame, but he has continued to improve his curveball, changeup and control each year, and he eventually should slot in behind Gerrit Cole as Pittsburgh’s No. 2 starter.

3. Alex Reyes, Cardinals
Reyes gained little exposure as a New Jersey high schooler, so he moved to the Dominican Republic before his senior year and saw his stock skyrocket when he became a full-time pitcher. Reyes is still a bit raw, but he can hit 100 mph with his fastball and back it up with a hammer curveball. He was clearly the best prospect in the Arizona Fall League this offseason, though he also got suspended for 50 games after a second positive test for a drug of abuse that he says was marijuana.

4. Jose Berrios, Twins
Despite contending until season’s end and needing rotation help, Minnesota curiously didn’t promote Berrios, who led the Minors with 175 strikeouts and started his second consecutive SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. The highest-drafted (32nd overall) Puerto Rican pitcher of all-time, he has the potential for three plus pitches and throws them all for strikes.

5. Jose De Leon, Dodgers
De Leon has skyrocketed from his lowly Draft status and a 6.96 ERA in his pro debut to leading the Minors with 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings and reaching Double-A in 2015, just two years later. De Leon’s stuff and command have gotten a lot better since he improved his conditioning and mechanics, giving him a riding 92-96 mph fastball, a plus changeup and an effective if inconsistent slider.

6. Jon Gray, Rockies
The lone member of this list to have reached the Majors, Gray may have the best pure stuff in franchise history, with a heavy fastball that has been clocked at 102 mph, a nasty slider and a sinking changeup. Also the highest-drafted righty in the Top 10 (No. 3 overall in 2013), he’ll need to refine his command to become a front-line starter and survive Coors Field.

7. Robert Stephenson, Reds
Cincinnati went with an all-rookie rotation in the second half of the 2015 season, and its most promising arm has yet to arrive but is on the verge. Stephenson has knockout stuff — with a mid-90s fastball, a curveball that’s devastating at times and a much-improved changeup — though he doesn’t dominate as much as he should because he’s still figuring out command.

8. Dillon Tate, Rangers
The highest-drafted player to have come through MLB’s Urban Youth Academy, Tate progressed from pitching just three innings as a UC Santa Barbara freshman in 2013 to the No. 4 overall pick last June. With his live 92-98 mph fastball, sharp upper-80s slider and athleticism, he could advance very quickly.

9. Carson Fulmer, White Sox
The ace of Vanderbilt teams that won the 2014 College World Series and finished runner-up in ’15, he topped NCAA Division I with 14 victories and ranked second with 167 strikeouts last season. The No. 8 overall choice in last year’s Draft, Fulmer has a mid-90s fastball, a power curveball and off-the-charts makeup, so he’s on the fast track to Chicago, like Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon were.

10. Anderson Espinoza, Red Sox
The consensus best pitcher on the 2014-15 international amateur market already looks better than expected. Signed for $1.8 million — doubling the Venezuelan bonus record set by Francisco Rodriguez 16 years earlier — Espinoza advanced to low Class A at age 17 in his pro debut, hitting triple digits with his fastball and showing advanced secondary pitches and command.

By Jonathan Mayo / | @JonathanMayo | 6:00 PM ET will unveil its 2016 Top 100 Prospects list on Friday, Jan. 29, on The Top 50 will be revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball’s top 10 prospects at each position.

Just how high in demand is left-handed pitching? Six of the 10 pitchers on this year’s Top 10 left-handed pitching prospects list are relatively recent acquisitions by their organization. Two come via the 2015 Draft, but four of the southpaws on this list have been traded. Three of those four deals happened at last July’s Trade Deadline.
There may have been a lot of change on this list — in addition to the trades, there are five new names on this Top 10 from a year ago — but there is stability at the top. For the second year in a row, teenager Julio Urias is in the top spot, and for good reason. But he has some good competition nipping at his heels.

1. Julio Urias, Dodgers
He doesn’t turn 20 until August, and he’s already knocking on the door. Urias has an outstanding combination of stuff and pitchability well beyond his years. He has three plus pitches with outstanding command. The only thing he doesn’t have is innings. Urias has yet to top even 90 innings in a season, but that shouldn’t hold him back for too long.
2. Blake Snell, Rays
Few prospects in the game improved their stock more than Snell did in 2015. It was a true breakout for the projectable lefty, one that started with a streak of 46 consecutive scoreless innings. It kept going as he dominated across three levels and led the Minors in ERA. He’s ready to help out with the Rays now.

3. Steven Matz, Mets
It hasn’t been the most direct path for Matz, who missed nearly three years of competitive pitching coming back from injuries. The wait was worth it, as Matz pitched his way to the big leagues and even into the postseason in 2015. The further removed from injury he gets, the more the concern about his durability dissipates. Matz is the only one on this list with big league time.
4. Sean Newcomb, Braves
The 2014 first-rounder is exactly what teams look for in a starting pitcher: Big, strong, durable and with plus stuff to boot. That’s why the Braves wanted him in the Andrelton Simmons deal. He needs to improve his control, but when he does that, he has front-line starter written all over him. Those Jon Lester comparisons aren’t too far-fetched.
5. Tyler Jay, Twins
Jay, the first 2015 draftee on the list, went No. 6 overall to the Twins. A reliever at Illinois, Jay has the repertoire and the command to be a starter, and that’s how Minnesota plans to develop him. He could have at least four Major League average pitches with above-average control when all is said and done. The transition to starting might slow Jay’s progress a bit, but it’s also nice to know that if it doesn’t work, he could have an impact in the bullpen in a hurry.
6. Josh Hader, Brewers
Hader’s pure stuff has been in such high demand, he’s been traded twice, first from the Orioles to the Astros, then from the Astros to the Brewers in the Carlos Gomez deal at the Trade Deadline last July. Milwaukee has him right as he’s peaking after a huge 2015 season and an absolutely dominant performance in the Arizona Fall League. Once thought to be a future reliever, Hader now looks like he can be much more.
7. Cody Reed, Reds
Another on this list who took a huge step forward with his 2015 campaign, he’s also one who was traded, this time in the Johnny Cueto deal with the Royals. Thought of as a projectable lefty when drafted, Reed has come a long way, with two plus pitches in his fastball and slider and a third average pitch (his changeup). Improvement in his command has him looking like a very solid big league starter in the near future.
8. Sean Manaea, A’s
The big Indiana State product could’ve been the top pick in the 2013 Draft, but he slid because of injury concerns. Manaea missed the first half of 2015 with an unrelated injury, but he pitched his way to Double-A and was sent to the A’s from the Royals in the Ben Zobrist Trade Deadline deal. He’s a mid-rotation workhorse, at the very least.
9. Amir Garrett, Reds
A two-sport star who spent a couple of years shuttling between college basketball and the Reds’ system, Garrett has started to take off since he turned to baseball full-time. Big, strong and athletic, the 2015 Futures Gamer still has considerable upside and a fresh arm because of his split focus in the past.
10. Kolby Allard, Braves
The second 2015 draftee on this list, Allard had the chance to go at the top of the Draft, until a back injury allowed him to fall to the Braves in the middle of the first round. He had surgery this offseason, and if he can put the back issue behind him, he has the chance to be a front-line starter, with an exciting combination of stuff, athleticism and feel for pitching.

By Mark Sheldon / | @m_sheldon | 4:03 PM ET
CINCINNATI — The Reds’ front office highly coveted infield prospect Jose Peraza, and as it commenced a rebuilding project, it very much liked the idea of having his glove, bat and speed on the roster.

That was why Peraza was a big part of the three-way trade from the Dodgers that sent third baseman Todd Frazier to the White Sox last month. Peraza, who turns 22 on April 30, is viewed as the second baseman of Cincinnati’s future and seems Major League ready right now.

The one problem, at the moment, is that the second baseman of the Reds’ present still remains in veteran Brandon Phillips. A couple of days after Frazier was moved, the Reds appeared to have a deal in place to send Phillips to the Nationals. With the 10-5 no trade rights he’s earned, Phillips did not approve the move and he remains in Cincinnati with two years and $27 million remaining on his contract.
Now it will be up to Reds manager Bryan Price to find a way to play Peraza this season if he makes the team out of Spring Training.
“I think it’s important to remember that Peraza has played a lot at shortstop,” Reds general manager Dick Williams said. “He has played center field. There’s a chance we could see him in different spots. I don’t think getting playing time for him will be an issue. We’d gladly take an approach where we get him some time at different areas and see where he can be of assistance to the team.”
Peraza was traded twice within six months last year. Originally blocked by Andrelton Simmons at shortstop in the Braves’ organization, he was part of a three-team blockbuster trade that sent him to the Dodgers on July 30.
Now ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Reds’ organization by, No. 24 overall, Peraza is a .302/.342/.387 hitter in five Minor League seasons. He stole at least 60 bases in 2013 and ’14 and swiped 33 in the Minors last season. With nine professional home runs, there isn’t a lot of power in that bat, but speed is his game.
Over a brief callup to the big leagues, Peraza batted .182 in seven games for the Dodgers. Viewed as also having a plus glove, put Peraza on its All-Defense Team heading into 2016.
“He had moved off shortstop because of what the organization had ahead of him in Atlanta,” Williams said. “It wasn’t because he played his way off of shortstop.”
The Reds are banking on having Zack Cozart return at short, fully recovered from major right knee surgery that knocked him out for the season in June. Eugenio Suarez, who replaced Cozart at shortstop, is slated to open the season at third base. Billy Hamilton is the center fielder and coming off of September right shoulder surgery.
If there is no room at the big league level, there is always the option of having Peraza start the season at Triple-A Louisville.
“We have to get a look at him firsthand,” Williams said. “We’re not going to force his development. We’re certainly not going to put him in a position where he’s sitting on a bench somewhere.”
Phillips, 34, had a resurgent 2015 season but likely won’t be part of any future return to contending even if he finishes his contract with the Reds. His daily presence in the lineup could hinder Peraza’s development. To encourage him to accept a trade, the club could potentially reduce Phillips’ playing time in favor of giving opportunity to Peraza. The risk in that choice, though, would be making Phillips unhappy.

How much Phillips — or Peraza — plays will ultimately be up to Price, Williams noted.
“I’ll defer to Bryan on how to use these guys, but Brandon is the incumbent regular second baseman if he’s coming back,” Williams said.
Perhaps, but there is no doubt that Peraza is part of the next generation in Cincinnati. It’s just a matter of when his time comes.

“The risk in that choice, though, would be making Phillips unhappy.” Well wouldn’t that be just friggin to bad, Take the chance of screwing around with Peraza and even put him at AAA so Brandon’s ego can be protected. Brandon made a decision that he was only about Brandon. So be it. Put his butt on the bench and let him cry like a baby. If this managhement team can’t make the hard ballsy decisions, then in my opinion the rebuild will be screwed before it gets started.

Agreed. It is the same milk-toast approach to the team that has permeated the team for the last few years. Why play Peraza OUT OF POSITION, only to pacify another player. We continue to treat our team like a pick up Sunday softball team!
This drives me nuts. And if we think that the king of toast, Mr. Price, has the whereforall to run the team as it should be run…well, I got a bridge…The most sad portion of the article above is that now Williams has come out and agreed with the ridiculous logic. Both Phillips and Bruce stand in the way of necessary quality time for other players (Peraza, Rodriquez, etc.). What is equally as frustrating is that Phillips was being traded to a quality, contending team that will be all accounts, make it to the playoffs. If ever you want to have a stage for 2 years to make a case for an extended contract…the Nats was it! And, Baker is there as well. Imagine, now he plays out his contract in a part time roll (I hope) and will fade off into the sunset; sorry to say, no hope of contending. If we are going to rebuild, rebuild the right was…play the new guys in their respective positions…not just where ever they can fill in a name on a lineup card…but then again, when has Price ever shown that kind of philosophy. Very irksome.

Chapman Won’t Face Criminal Charge, But MLB Could Still Suspend
January 21, 2016 by Vince Lara-Cinisomo

Prosecutors in Broward County in Florida will not file criminal charges against Aroldis Chapman over an alleged domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend last October, but MLB’s investigation remains ongoing.

The Broward State Attorney’s Office revealed the decision Thursday, the Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

Broward Assistant State Attorney Stefanie Newman said conflicting accounts and insufficient evidence made a conviction unlikely.

“We are all pleased that the Davie Police Department and the Office of the State Attorney took the time to fully investigate the matter and have concluded that charges were not warranted,” Chapman’s lawyer, Paul Molle, told the newspaper.

Chapman still faces discipline from Major League Baseball, however, as a spokesman said the league’s investigation is “ongoing.”

Chapman—traded to the Yankees by the Reds in late December for four players including New York’s No. 6 prospect, Rookie Davis—allegedly choked and pushed his girlfriend during a birthday party for a friend at Chapman’s Miami-area home, according to a memo from the Broward County State Attorney’s Office.

That information came to light when the Dodgers were pursuing a deal for the hard-throwing, lefthanded closer. That deal was scuttled because of the incident, which also included—according to the memo—Chapman firing a gun eight times in his garage.

The Yankees, however, made a deal with the Reds, saying they’d done their due diligence on Chapman’s alleged actions.

“We did as much research as we possibly could, and that’s what I’m going to do any time I’m looking to get rid of some of my good young talent or spend $100 million signing a free agent,” Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told reporters Wednesday.

The three moves left for the Cincinnati Reds this offseason
By Wick Terrell  @wickterrell on Jan 20, 2016, 1:51p

When Brandon Phillips put the kibosh on a trade that would’ve sent him to the Washington Nationals back in December, the heavy lifting portion of the massive Cincinnati Reds dismantling effectively ended for the offseason. Buttressing the 2015 moves of Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Marlon Byrd were the winter trades of Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman, and with Phillips immovable and Jay Bruce’s value too low to reap value, the shuffling of the roster appears to be settled for the near term, at least.

We can debate the merits of the players that have been brought in to replace those who have been shipped out, but with winning in 2016 a non-priority in this rebuild, it’s fair to say that the April 4th Opening Day roster will come almost entirely from the pool of players currently set for camp in Goodyear next month. I said ‘almost,’ though, because there are still three moves that the team could make that could alter the dynamics of that process.

Here are those three moves, from most likely to least likely.

Reds sign Bronson Arroyo

Old habits die hard, and the connection the Reds have with their former ace and rotation cog appears much the same. The two have been linked with a reunion for some time, with WCPO’s John Fay reporting back in November that the two sides met and’s Mark Sheldon again noting in early January that there’s interest in bringing the veteran hurler back into the fold.

Since parting ways with the Reds after the 2013 season, Arroyo has had as many Tommy John surgeries as complete games thrown, and he’ll turn 38 years old next month. However, he’s long been regarded as a great influence in the dugout with younger pitchers, and with the Reds set to roll out the sophomore version of the all-rookie rotation that threw most every second half inning in 2015, adding a sage on a cheap deal wouldn’t be a terrible idea. Advice aside, the team will also need someone to eat innings early in the season, since Anthony DeSclafani may well be the only starter on the roster that’s capable of sniffing 200 innings in 2016. Arroyo, if healthy, could help with that while also keeping the service clocks from starting on the likes of Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett, and Cody Reed, among others.

Add in that Homer Bailey’s the only other established starter in the running for innings – and he won’t be back and functional until mid-May, at best – and picking up another rubber arm makes too much sense. This deal seems like it’ll happen, with the only caveat being whether it’s a cheap, MLB guaranteed deal or a minor-league deal with a Spring Training invite. (And even if it’s not Arroyo, I’d be shocked if the Reds did not sign a player of his ilk prior to the season, one along the lines of Kyle Lohse or Justin Masterson.)

Reds sign Skip Schumaker

I’m not crying because I’m sad. Those are the tears of inevitability.

Look, it’s been well established in both winning and losing seasons that the Reds front office places immense value on locker room leadership, doing things the right way, grittiness, veteranitude, scrapability, and perceived versatility regardless of what the numbers suggest. Skip Schumaker ticked all those boxes prior to the 2014 season, and for that he was rewarded with a 2-year contract that featured an option year for 2016 that the Reds recently decided to decline.

They didn’t decline it because they were admitting they made a mistake. They declined it because they’re on the lookout for the next Skip Schumaker.

I don’t expect Skip to be back with the Reds, but in much the same way that they’ve been chasing Arroyo for the pitching portion of the young roster, I expect they’ll be in the market for a veteran utility bench-bat that can provide leadership while not playing much at all. It could be Jonny Gomes! It could be Shane Victorino! It could be Jeff Francoeur (insert the inverse of exclamation mark). It could be Clint Barmes or Juan Uribe, but the point remains that it would be completely out of character for the Reds to head to Goodyear without a shining beacon of work-ethic being paid to participate.

Reds trade Amir Garrett & friends for Corey Dickerson

Hello, specificity!

I’d place the odds of exactly Amir Garrett being sent to the Colorado Rockies for exactly Corey Dickerson at about the same level as the odds of Tucker Barnhart hitting 30 dingers in 2016, but the concept is one that the Reds could conceivably pull off. In the massive wheeling and dealing of their last thirteen months, the Reds have picked up a army of talented, well-regarded young pitching, and that complements the already talented pitching base they had in their system to begin with.

The Reds will very likely have three starting pitching prospects that crack Top 100 lists when those are released in the coming month, and none of them will be named DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, John Lamb, Jon Moscot, or Brandon Finnegan. That group next to Reed, Garrett, and Stephenson paired with an outfield thin on talent (and nearing a trade of Bruce) means that the team could well try to target an established bat that has enough team control left to still be around when the Reds have a shot at being good again. Dickerson stood out for this since the Rockies have a logjam in their outfield and an insatiable thirst for pitchers who could have an ERA that starts with 3, but there are obviously other players in similar situations that could fit this bill.

The chips are there for a deal of this ilk to happen, one that would pave the way for a 2017 outfield of Jesse Winker, Billy Hamilton, and Dickerson-type, but I don’t see the Reds pulling the trigger on it at this time. With the benefit of no expectations on their shoulders, they’ll let Scott Schebler, Adam Duvall, and Yorman Rodriguez ply their trade to see what they’ve got, all the while continuing to ignore that they’ve had far and away the most punchless, least valuable outfield in baseball for two full years running.

OMG not Skippy.

The Case for Continuing Patience with Billy Hamilton…
Posted on 01/21/2016 by GRANT FREKING
Through 2,220 innings, 1,087 plate appearances and 279 games played, there is enough information to formulate a trio of proclamations about Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds center fielder:

*Billy Hamilton is a sublime defender.

*Billy Hamilton is an elite, perceptive base runner.

*Billy Hamilton is one of the worst hitters in the major leagues.

In an abstract sense, it’s quite striking that a player with so little time in the big leagues can offer two clear strengths and one explicit weakness. Let’s examine the three proclamations separately:

Billy Hamilton is a sublime defender

Hamilton, who began his pro career with the Reds as an 18-year-old after Cincinnati took him in the second round of the 2009 draft, spurned an offer to play football and baseball at Mississippi State in favor of taking up pro baseball. (Can you imagine Hamilton as a punt returner? Yeesh.) Through his first four minor league campaigns, Hamilton primarily played shortstop. However, the Reds officially moved to their touted prospect to center field in the 2012 Arizona Fall League.

“There are a lot of reasons,” former Reds vice president of scouting and player development Bill Bavasi told in October 2012, speaking to Hamilton’s position change.. “We have [Zack] Cozart. We have Didi [Gregorius]. If you watch Hamilton’s style of play, it’s a pounding style of play. It would be an easier position for his body to take along with the base stealing. Everything seems to work better.”

While Billy Hamilton the Shortstop may have been blocked by Cozart and Gregorious (now the Yankees shortstop), errors were a major issue anyway. Hamilton tallied 39 fielding miscues in 132 games at Low-A Dayton in 2011 and added 31 errors in 125 games between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola in 2012. And with Brandon Phillips entrenched at second base, Hamilton — who played 55 games at second base in rookie ball in 2010 — wasn’t going to play there either.

Hamilton became a full-time center fielder during his lone season at Triple-A Louisville in 2013, and he’s been nothing short of sensational since taking over the same position for the Reds to begin the 2014 campaign. Among 128 qualified players from 2014-15, Hamilton ranks second to only shortstop Andrelton Simmons in Defensive Runs Above Average and is second to only Jason Heyward (primarily a right fielder) in Ultimate Zone Rating.

For those who prefer traditional metrics, over that same span (2,175 innings), Hamilton has a fielding percentage of .997 and has registered just two errors. Both of those marks are tied for the third-best in all of baseball over that period.

At different times, Hamilton has flashed his shortstop’s arm, his ability to simply go get a ball, and his natural athleticism, as the man can get up for someone generously listed at 6-0.

Billy Hamilton is an elite, perceptive base runner

From 2014-15, Hamilton topped all of baseball in BsR, Fangraphs’ all-encompassing base running statistic. In 2015, Hamilton turned in one of the best BsR seasons of all-time, and could have had a chance at the best single-season BsR in the history of the sport had he played closer to a full season and not been limited to 114 contests because of a shoulder injury.

As far as stealing bases, Hamilton showed profound improvement last summer, raising his successful base stealing rate from 71 percent in 2014 — which was below the league average of 73 percent — in 79 attempts to 88 percent in 65 attempts in 2015.

“It’s not that his speed is any better,” Reds manager Bryan Price said last April. He’s making better decisions on when to go and taken a lot of intelligence information we have and put it to work for him, being able to shut it down on a good slide-step. Most of the league is going to make a pretty good effort to slow him down by being quicker to the plate.”

Hamilton is simply an astute base runner. He swiped third base 16 times in 2015 (most in the majors) without getting caught, and occasionally his prowess on the base paths supplied the Reds with an easy run. Oh, and Hamilton has 126 stolen bases in 279 career games.

Billy Hamilton is one of the worst hitters in the major leagues

Level Plate Appearances Slash
Minors (Career) 2,272 .280/.351/.377
Triple-A (2013) 547 .256/.308/.343
Majors (2014-15) 1,087 .242/.287/.330
There’s no point in sugarcoating it: since he became a starter for the Reds in 2014, Hamilton has been one of the game’s worst hitters. Hamilton’s wRC+ of 67 puts him 114th among 117 hitters with at least 1,000 plate appearances over the past two seasons. After slashing .250/.292/.355 as a rookie, Hamilton regressed in 2015, slashing .226/.274/.289. Of the 176 hitters to accumulate at least 450 plate appearances in 2015, Hamilton’s wRC+ of 52 was the second-worst in all of baseball. Hamilton’s on-base percentage of .274 ranked 173rd out of 176 players with at least 450 plate appearances.

In order for Hamilton to improve as a hitter, he must first grasp his limitations. As his Hamilton’s frame (6-0, 160 pounds soaking wet) would indicate, he has trouble consistently hitting the ball hard.

Out of 124 qualified players from 2014-15, Hamilton ranked 122nd, only ahead of Ben Revere and Dee Gordon in FanGraphs’ measure of how often batters make hard contact. Funnel the year down to 2015 and switch the statistic to exit velocity, and things don’t get much rosier for Hamilton, who ranked dead last in average exit velocity among 221 players with at least 190 at-bats. (Hat tip to Baseball Savant.)

Hard Hit % (2014-15) Exit Velocity (2015) wRC+ (2014-15)
Revere 17.1 82.8 mph 95
Gordon 17.5 83.9 mph 107
Hamilton 20.0 82.3 mph 67
But how can it be that in terms of wRC+, Revere — who was one spot above Hamilton in the exit velocity rankings — hovers around league average and Gordon — who was just four spots above Revere — is above-average? The answer is fly ball and ground ball rate. Look at Revere, Gordon, and Hamilton’s fly ball (FB%), ground ball (GB%), and infield pop-up rates (IFFB%), as well as their batting average on balls in play (BABIP) from the same 2014-15 period.

Revere 16.6 59.8 3.4 .334
Gordon 18.9 59.7 5.5 .365
Hamilton 37.6 42.0 10.0 .287
Hamilton doesn’t need to look far for his blueprint to becoming a league average hitter. Revere and Gordon keep the ball out of the air and employ their legs to run out batted balls that average runners are thrown out on. Want more proof? Gordon led the majors with 57 infield hits last season. Second? Revere, with 41. Hamilton was way down the list with 28, only one ahead of Starlin Castro. Hamilton would torch Castro in a foot race, but Castro’s ground ball rate in 2015 (54.1 percent) was 12 percent higher than Hamilton’s.

Beyond improving on his ground ball rate, there is hope for Hamilton. For one, regardless of where his batted balls land, Hamilton should be due for some better luck. Hamilton’s BABIP crashed from .304 in 2014 (when his ground ball rate was worse (41.5 percent) than it was in 2015) to .264 in 2015. League average BABIP was .299 in 2015.

Hamilton also took more free passes last season, upping his walk rate from 5.6 percent to 6.5 percent. He also cut down on his strikeouts, slashing his K rate from 19.1 percent in 2014 to 16.5 percent in 2015. Hamilton could also refine his not-so-great bunting skills, but it’s worth noting that Hamilton’s 12 bunt hits in 2015 were just four behind Gordon’s MLB-best 16 bunt hits.

The Case for Continuing Patience

As early as midway through the 2014 season, it was plain to see that Hamilton would’ve been better served spending more time at Triple-A, but alas, the Reds were seemingly desperate to not only thrust Hamilton into a starting role (with no viable backup behind him), but also into the No. 1 spot in the lineup, a hell of a lot of pressure for a rookie to bear for a team that was a contender in the first half of the season. (The Reds were 51-44 and a game and a half out of first at the 2014 All-Star Break.) Hamilton was relied upon to be the team’s table-setter despite clearly being unready and unfit for the role.

Quick aside: A little more than a week after I wrote that Hamilton needed a break from the leadoff spot, the Reds removed Hamilton from his perch atop the lineup. In 2015, Hamilton actually logged more plate appearances batting ninth (226) than he did batting first (208) after 602 of his 611 plate appearances in 2014 came from the leadoff position. In 2015, Hamilton was bad in the leadoff spot (.230/.293/.342), but he was worse batting ninth (.223/.264/.248). I have no idea where the proper place in the lineup is to bat Hamilton.)

Again, this is what we know. Hamilton is a sublime defender, an elite, perceptive base runner, and is one of the worst hitters in the major leagues.

This is where it’s important to remember that Hamilton won’t turn 26 until September and is entering just his third full season in the majors. Hamilton need not look far to notice that a high draft pick like himself can take off as a hitter in his third full season in the big leagues, as Jay Bruce (1st round, 2005), Brandon Phillips (2nd round, 1999), and Joey Votto (2nd round, 2002) all achieved career-best slash lines and wRC+ totals in their third full turns as major leaguers.

So, it’s important for Hamilton to play every day so the Reds can continue their evaluation of their unique talent. And if Hamilton displays improvement as a hitter, the Reds would be wise to secure a team-friendly extension with Hamilton sooner rather than later. After the trades of Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman plus a handful of smaller moves, our own Steve Mancuso projects the Reds to be sitting on about a $30 million budget surplus. The Reds appear to be sitting out free agency, so locking up one of their own like Hamilton (who has already racked up 6.1 fWAR in 279 career games despite his struggles at the dish) through his arbitration years — which begin after the 2016 season — seems like a worthwhile endeavor.

Jay Bruce…potential landing spot…
2016 Opening Day Age: 28

Contract Situation: Owed $12.5 million in 2016 and has a $13 million club option (with a $1 million buyout) for 2017

The Fit

It’s no sure thing that Jay Bruce will be back with the Cincinnati Reds for a ninth season in 2016.

Just last week, Jerry Crasnick of reported that “the Reds are still listening on Bruce.” Crasnick also shared an email from Reds general manager Dick Williams, which explains the organizational thought process this offseason:

Deciding to focus on the long-term means you have to constantly evaluate opportunities. Trading [Todd] Frazier and [Aroldis] Chapman certainly begins to move us in the direction we need to go, as a small market team. Once you start down this road, it is important to continue with the tough decisions and not pull up in the middle of the project.

Trimming Bruce and his remaining salary would be a logical next step as the Reds continue down the rebuilding road.

Looking around the league, the San Francisco Giants stand out as one possible trade destination for the 28-year-old. The National League West squad, which has already added Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Denard Span, is gearing up for yet another even-year run.

Bruce could be just the guy to provide the Giants with some much-needed thump. As MLB Network noted on Twitter, the lefty has the most homers (187) in the Senior Circuit since 2009.

Admittedly, Bruce hasn’t been at the top of his game over the past two seasons, as he posted a .654 OPS in 2014 and a .729 mark in 2015. Still, his knack for exiting the yard would be a big boost for San Francisco. Last season, the Giants were No. 26 in the bigs in homers. Meanwhile, Bruce connected on 26 bombs, which would have been good for the team lead.

The Top Potential Landing Spot: San Francisco Giants

An offset to his inconsistency…
Bruce has the most homers (187) in MLB since 2009.

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