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Awards season is here

Monday night marked the beginning of a two-week stretch where awards for 2014 performances will be announced. It began with the MLBPA Players Choice Awards. No Reds were winners but two were finalists.

For NL Outstanding Pitcher, Clayton Kershaw from the Dodgers won over finalists Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright.

For NL Outstanding Rookie, Jacob deGrom of the Mets defeated fellow finalists Billy Hamilton and David Peralta from the D-backs.

On Tuesday night — American League and National League Rawlings Gold Glove Awards for defense will be announced. (7 p.m. ET on ESPN2). Billy Hamilton, Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips are finalists.

We will also learn this evening who the finalists are for the 2014 BBWAA Awards.

On Wednesday — the Wilson defensive players of the year will be announced. This award began in 2012. It will air at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

On Thursday — AL and NL Silver Slugger Awards.

Next week:

Monday, Nov. 10 — AL & NL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award
Tuesday, Nov. 11 — AL & NL Manager of the Year Award
Wednesday, Nov. 12 — AL & NL Cy Young Award
Thursday, Nov. 13 — AL & NL Most Valuable Player Award

All awards next week will be broadcast by MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET.

Also –you can have a vote in our MLB.com GIBBY Awards (Greatness in Baseball Yearly). Click below to participate:

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/awards/y2014/gibbys/

Miller to Nats

Former Reds assistant general manager Bob Miller has landed a new job in the same position with the Nationals, it was announced on Monday. Miller had been set to move to Florida to start a business while hoping to remain in baseball.

Here is the Nationals press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 3, 2014

NATIONALS NAME BOB MILLER VICE PRESIDENT
AND ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER

The Washington Nationals welcomed Bob Miller to their front office staff today, naming him Vice President and Assistant General Manager. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Miller, who will assist in all facets of baseball operations, comes to the Nationals after nine seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, serving most recently as Vice President and Assistant General Manager to Reds’ President of Baseball Operations and GM Walt Jocketty. In that role, Miller had a hand in all aspects of baseball operations, including arbitration cases, contract negotiations, rules, player evaluations, and departmental budgeting.

Joining the Nationals for his 33rd season in professional baseball, Miller reunites with Rizzo for the first time since the two worked together for seven years with the Arizona Diamondbacks. There they helped build the 2001 World Series championship team, and take Arizona’s Minor League system from No. 29 (as ranked by Baseball America) to No. 1 in five years.

Miller, who initially joined the Reds in Feb., 2006, as Director of Baseball Administration under then-GM Wayne Krivsky, quickly moved through the ranks in Cincinnati. He was promoted to Assistant General Manager in June of 2006 and in Dec., 2006, was named Vice President and Assistant GM. During his time with the Reds, the team improved from a sub-.500 club to win two division championships and earn three playoff appearances. In 2012, the Reds were also named Baseball America’s Organization of the Year.

Prior to joining the Reds, Miller spent seven seasons with the Diamondbacks — first as Assistant Director of Scouting, then Director of Baseball Operations, and the final three as Assistant General Manager, where he oversaw the organization’s Minor League player development from 2004-05. In 2005, the Diamondbacks were named TOPPS’ Minor League Organization of the Year.

Miller joined the Diamondbacks with 16 years of Minor League experience on his resume, including 14 years at the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, and stops as Vice President of Baseball Operations in the independent Texas-Louisiana League office, along with serving as executive GM of that league’s Amarillo Dillas club.

Miller, 50, graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in finance.

Reds news and notes

I’ve got a quick smattering of Reds items for you on this Thursday evening….

*Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has yet to hire former Padres and D-backs GM Kevin Towers to his front office. Buster Olney of ESPN reported that Towers’ hiring was likely. He and Jocketty are good friends.

“Not yet, no. We’ve talked about it but nothing has been done,” Jocketty said from Arizona. “He still has a year left on his contract. He wants to take some time and figure out what he wants to do.”

*Cuban signing and RHP Raisel Iglesias is no longer going to pitch winter ball in Puerto Rico. After two scoreless outings in the Arizona Fall League, Iglesias will remain in the desert.

“We’ve had a change of plans there,” Jocketty said. “It’s easier to manage his workload here than it is over there. That’s what we’re most concerned with.”

*The Reds have made no progress on hiring a new third base coach to replace Steve Smith on manager Bryan Price’s staff.

“Bryan took some time off and I’m going to get with him the next week or so and hopefully work on that a little more. We’re not really in a big rush,” Jocketty said.

It does not appear that former third base coach Mark Berry will be a candidate for his old job. Berry battled throat cancer during the 2013 season.

“I don’t think so,” Jocketty said. “Bryan has talked to him and I don’t think he has interest in doing that.”

Free agency begins

As you know, the World Series is over. (Wow, what a series it was too!) In the Major League calendar, the end of the World Series also marks the start of free agency.

On Thursday, 121 players became free agents. They are eligible to begin negotiations and sign with any club beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Nov. 4. At the bottom, I have the full list of free agents as provided by the MLB Players’ Association.

Only three Reds players are free agents — OF Ryan Ludwick, INF Ramon Santiago; INF Jack Hannahan.

I think Santiago has a good chance at returning. He told me last month he wanted to come back and liked playing for the Reds. And within the scope of his role, the club was pleased with his performance — namely manager Bryan Price. Santiago batted .246/.343./.385 in 75 games while earning $1.1 million in 2014. The 35-year-old also played well defensively at shortstop and second base and was a good veteran clubhouse presence.

On Reds.com, an offseason primer is coming soon. Be sure to take a look.

Free agent list:

PLAYER TEAM
1 Bonifacio, Emilio AT
2 Doumit, Ryan AT
3 Floyd, Gavin AT
4 Harang, Aaron AT
5 Laird, Gerald AT
6 Santana, Ervin AT
7 Casilla, Alexi BA
8 Cruz, Nelson R. BA
9 Johnson, Kelly BA
10 Miller, Andrew BA
11 Santana, Johan BA
12 Saunders, Joe BA
13 Young, Delmon BA
14 Badenhop, Burke BO
15 Dempster, Ryan S. BO
16 Ross, Dave BO
17 Uehara, Koji BO
18 Villanueva, Carlos CC
19 Hannahan, Jack CI
20 Ludwick, Ryan CI
21 Santiago, Ramon CIN
22 Giambi, Jason CL
23 Belisle, Matt CO
24 Cuddyer, Mike CO
25 Masset, Nick CO
26 Morales, Franklin CO
27 Konerko, Paul CWS
28 Lindstrom, Matthew CWS
29 Chamberlain, Joba DE
30 Coke, Phil DE
31 Hanrahan, Joel DE
32 Hunter, Torii K. DE
33 Johnson, Jim DE
34 Martinez, Victor DE
35 Scherzer, Max DE
36 Albers, Matt HO
37 Crain, Jesse HO
38 Veras, Jose HO
39 Aoki, Norichika* KC
40 Downs, Scott KC
41 Frasor, Jason KC
42 Hochevar, Luke KC
43 Ibanez, Raul J. KC
44 Shields, James KC
45 Willingham, Josh KC
46 Grilli, Jason LAA
47 McDonald, John LAA
48 Thatcher, Joe LAA
49 Beckett, Josh LAD
50 Correia, Kevin LAD
51 Hernandez, Roberto LAD
52 Maholm, Paul LAD
53 Perez, Chris LAD
54 Ramirez, Hanley LAD
55 Wright, Jamey LAD
56 Furcal, Rafael MIA
57 Gregg, Kevin MIA
58 Johnson, Reed MIA
59 Penny, Brad MIA
60 Duke, Zach MIL
61 Gorzelanny, Tom MIL
62 Overbay, Lyle MIL
63 Reynolds, Mark MIL
64 Rodriguez, Francisco MIL
65 Burton, Jared MN
66 Abreu, Bobby NYM
67 Matsuzaka, Daisuke NYM
68 Capuano, Chris NYY
69 Drew, Stephen NYY
70 Headley, Chase NYY
71 Hill, Rich NYY
72 Jeter, Derek NYY
73 Kuroda, Hiroki NYY
74 McCarthy, Brandon NYY
75 Robertson, David NYY
76 Suzuki, Ichiro NYY
77 Young, Chris B. NYY
78 Callaspo, Alberto OA
79 Gomes, Jonny OA
80 Gregerson, Luke OA
81 Hammel, Jason OA
82 Lester, Jon OA
83 Lowrie, Jed OA
84 Nakajima, Hiroyuki* OA
85 Soto, Geovany OA
86 Adams, Mike PH
87 Kendrick, Kyle PH
88 Nieves, Wil PH
89 Barmes, Clint PI
90 Liriano, Francisco PI
91 Martin, Russell PI
92 Volquez, Edinson PI
93 Stauffer, Tim SD
94 Beimel, Joe SE
95 Chavez, Endy SE
96 Denorfia, Chris SE
97 Gutierrez, Franklin SE
98 Morales, Kendrys SE
99 Quintero, Humberto SE
100 Young, Chris SE
101 Morse, Michael SF
102 Peavy, Jacob SF
103 Romo, Sergio SF
104 Sandoval, Pablo SF
105 Vogelsong, Ryan SF
106 Ellis, Mark SL
107 Masterson, Justin SL
108 Motte, Jason SL
109 Neshek, Pat SL
110 Pierzynski, A.J. SL
111 Baker, Scott TE
112 Cotts, Neal TE
113 Lewis, Colby TE
114 Rios, Alexis TE
115 Cabrera, Melky TO
116 Janssen, Casey TO
117 Kawasaki, Munenori* TO
118 Rasmus, Colby TO
119 Cabrera, Asdrubal WA
120 Hairston, Scott WA
121 Schierholtz, Nate WA

*Eligible per contract terms

Another 32 players may be eligible for free agency pending the option provisions in their Uniform Players Contract (UPC).

Cueto’s option picked up

In moves that were of no surprise, MLB.com has learned Wednesday that the Reds exercised the $10 million 2015 club option for ace starting pitcher Johnny Cueto and declined options for outfielder Ryan Ludwick and infielder Jack Hannahan.

The mutual option for Ludwick was worth $9 million and it was bought out for $4.5 million while Hannahan had a $4 million club option bought out for $2 million. Both players automatically become free agents.

None of the moves have been announced yet by the Reds.

Soto outrighted to Louisville

On today’s transaction page, it shows that infielder Neftali Soto was sent outright to Triple-A Louisville. That means Soto has been taken off of the Reds 40-man roster.

Soto made the Opening Day roster but didn’t do much at the plate in his limited chances. He batted .100 (3-for-30) in 21 games that jncluded four starts in two big league stints.

A third round pick by the Reds in 2007, Soto had long been a prospect at first base that was blocked by Joey Votto. His lack of hitting and quality defense at first base, third base (and a brief look at catcher) were not enough to keep him in a bench role.

It was telling that Soto was not included among this year’s September call-ups, so I’m not stunned he is off the roster.

Chapman changes agents

MLB.com has confirmed the report that Reds closer Aroldis Chapman has switched agents and is now represented by Relativity Baseball. Chapman was previously represented by Hendricks Sports. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan first reported the news.

Chapman had the option to enter into arbitration for the first time last winter. He avoided the hearing with a one-year, $5 million contract. Chapman will be second-year eligible for arbitration this offseason and become a free agent for the first time after the 2016 season.

Following his late start to the decision after being struck in the face by a line drive during Spring Training, Chapman had one of best seasons in the Majors in 2014. A three-time All-Star, he posted a 2.00 ERA in 54 games with 36 saves in 38 chances. Over 54 innings, he had a 17.7 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio and a 0.8333 WHIP.

Chapman, 26, became the first pitcher to average 100 mph (100.3 exactly) during a season as recorded by Pitch F/X.

Winker and Howard AFL All-Stars

The Arizona Fall League revealed its All-Star teams that will meet in the ninth annual Fall Stars Game, which is on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET and airing on MLB Network and MLB.com.

From the Reds organization, the West division All-Stars will include OF Jesse Winker and RHP Nick Howard.

Through 11 games, Winker is batting .341/.451/.585 with two home runs and 13 RBIs. MLB.com ranks him as the Reds organization’s No. 2 prospect.

Howard has a 7.84 ERA in three starts with nine earned runs and 13 hits allowed over 10 1/3 innings. He was a first-round selection by the Reds in the 2014 Draft and the Reds’ No. 5 ranked prospect.

Catching up

It was probably hard for you to tell, considering the quiet of the early offseason, but I was off all of last week on “staycation.” Hence, that’s why there were no blog entries, stories or tweets from me.

There was some Reds news that trickled out.

*Steve Smith was let go as third base coach on Monday. I can’t say this was a shock considering how many runners got thrown out at home this season. Late in the season, Smith had approached reporters to defend himself about the number of runners thrown out that were actually on his ledger. That was a sign that even he knew things didn’t look good. The rest of the coaching staff remains.

*Raisel Iglesias made his debut in the Arizona Fall League with a scoreless inning last Monday. On Thursday, Iglesias pitched again and worked another scoreless inning.

*My colleagues at MLB.com have written some really good stories from the World Series this past week. Alyson Footer provided my favorite one thus far with her piece on the fans with kayaks floating outside AT&T Park in McCovey Cove. Be sure to check that out.

*Finally, the news Sunday that promising Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend were killed in a car accident is just awful. Taveras was 22 and his girlfriend was only 18. On her blog, MLB.com Cardinals beat reporter Jenifer Langosch provided some personal memories about Taveras.

Wild Card World Series

Raise your hand if you predicted a Royals-Giants World Series…

The notion of adding the second Wild Card two years ago was to provide added reward to the teams that won their divisions. This year, two Wild Card entries are in the World Series for the first time under the new postseason format and it’s the first time two Wild Card teams will duel in the Fall Classic since the Angels and Giants in 2002.

Phil Rogers of MLB.com has more on the Wild Card winners reaching the World Series.

Also — neither the Royals (89 wins), nor Giants (88 wins) were 90 game winners in the regular season.

And — the Giants were the SECOND NL Wild Card team. So it is possible for it to be done.

Although they ended the 2013 regular season on a five-game losing streak, if the Reds could have found a way past Pittsburgh last season, perhaps they too could have went on a roll like the Royals or Giants. One never knows.

While every team, including the Reds, should aspire to win their division, this should emphasize how doable it is to reach the playoffs — and beyond — if a team can put together a run.

The World Series begins on Tuesday at Kansas City. For my prediction, I like the Giants in six games.

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