Cincinnati Reds: Offseason Shakeup?

USP MLB: MILWAUKEE BREWERS AT CINCINNATI REDS S BBN USA OH

Brandon Phillips may really be on his way out of Cincinnati.

By: Travis Thayer

Guaranteed Contracts:

Joey Votto, 1B: $225 million thru 2023
Brandon Phillips 2B: $50 million thru 2017
Jay Bruce OF: $37.5 million thru 2016
Jonathan Broxton, RP: $17 million thru 2015
Sean Marshall, RP: $12 million thru 2015
Manny Parra, RP: $5.5 million thru 2015
Ryan Ludwick, OF: $12 million thru 2014
Johnny Cueto, SP: $10.8 million thru 2014
Mat Latos, SP: $7.25 million thru 2014
Jack Hannahan, IF: $3 million thru 2014
Logan Ondrusek, RP: $1.35 million thru 2014

Free Agents: Bronson Arroyo (SP), Shin-Soo Choo (OF), Nick Masset (RP), Cesar Izturis (IF), Zach Duke (RP)

Arbitration Eligible Players (Service Time in parentheses)

Homer Bailey, SP (5.017): $9.3 million
Mike Leake, SP (4.000): $5.9 million
Chris Heisey, OF (3.157): $1.7 million
Alfredo Simon, RP (4.142): $1.6 million
Sam LeCure, RP (3.072): $1 million
Xavier Paul, OF (3.119): $1 million

One their way out: Shin-Soo Choo (OF), Bronson Arroyo (SP), Cesar Izturis (IF), Zach Duke (RP), Ryan Hanigan (C), Brandon Phillips (2B), Homer Bailey (SP), Sean Marshall (RP).

The Reds got their offseason kicked off with the signing of catcher Brayan Pena.  Pena is a quality switch-hitting catcher, who has a low strikeout rate and consistently takes good at-bats.  His arrival in the Queen City resulted in trading veteran backstop Ryan Hanigan.  Hanigan was sent to Tampa Bay in a three-team trade.  The Reds received left-handed pitching prospect Dave Holmberg from Arizona as part of the trade.  The Reds also signed ultra utility-man Skip Schumaker, who GM Walt Jocketty is very familiar with from his days in St. Louis.  Schumaker will mostly be a bench player who can play all three outfield spots as well as second base.  Schumaker provides a left-handed bat off the bench, and yet another veteran who takes quality at-bats.  The Reds have also re-signed relief pitcher Manny Parra to a two-year deal after a nice 2013 season.  The Reds have remained busy with trade discussions during the Winter Meetings, but nothing has come to fruition.  That doesn’t mean we can’t talk about the rumors, and the hypothetical changes that could happen in the next few weeks.

For months, the Reds have thrown around Brandon Phillips’ name in trade discussion.  Early on it was very clear the Reds would trade Phillips, and then things changed when the Reds hosted their annual winter extravaganza known as Redsfest.  Phillips has never missed a Redsfest since its existence, and the Reds front office told him he wasn’t being traded which resulted in Phillips attending the weekend festival.  Now that Redsfest is over, Phillips is back on the trade block.  Reports have surfaced that the Reds offered Phillips to the Yankees for center-fielder Brett Gardner, a trade proposal that the Yankees declined even in the wake of losing star second baseman Robinson Cano to the Seattle Mariners.  The Reds would love to shed the $50 million dollars due to Phillips over the next few years for the much cheaper (due $4 million next season) Gardner.  It appears that the Reds and Yankees won’t settle on a player-for-player swap, but that doesn’t mean a deal won’t get done.  The Yankees have insisted that they will trade Gardner, but only if the price is right – and the Reds have said the same about Phillips.  The Reds definitely want Gardner, but the Yanks will have to lower their price tag a bit before a deal gets done.  The Reds would love to get this deal done so they can pursue free-agent second baseman Omar Infante (story here) to replace Phillips.  Infante is another veteran who takes good AB’s, and that seems to be the theme of the offseason for the Reds front office.  Infante is said to want a four-year deal worth $40 million, and the Reds will not be able to complete that deal without dealing Phillips first.  Infante (.318 AVG/.345 OBS/10 HR/51 RBI in 2013) would certainly be a serviceable replacement for Phillips, but it will certainly be an unpopular move in Cincinnati.

Homer Bailey and Sean Marshall have also come up in trade rumors, and it is very possible both could be on their way out.  Bailey will be a free agent after the 2014 season, and he has refused to sign a long-term deal in the past.  After arbitration, Bailey will probably be guaranteed around $9 million dollars this season.  This is a case of do you get something for Bailey before he walks after next season, or do you risk losing him in the offseason because you are better with him this season.  My gut tells me the Reds are better this year with Bailey on the roster, but my head tells me that the Reds should get something for him – because he won’t be a Red next year.  There were talks that Bronson Arroyo was in discussions with the Reds, but it doesn’t seem realistic that he will be back with the club.  Arroyo returning would make it really easy to trade Bailey because they would have a one-year stop-gate to find Bailey’s long-term replacement.  The Reds should look to move Bailey for a power-hitting left-fielder, and then sign a starting pitcher to a one-year deal to pave the way for Robert Stephenson’s inevitable arrival in 2015.

As for Sean Marshall, it’s unclear what his role will be in any trade talks.  When healthy he is certainly one of the best left-handed relief pitchers.  He has been injury prone over his career, and it might not be the worst idea to package him in a deal that can get you Brett Gardner, or a power hitting outfielder.

One thing is for certain, the Reds are trying as hard as they can to reshape their roster via trade.  The club’s core players have been to the playoffs three of the last four years, but they haven’t gotten the job done.  The Reds struggle to produce good at-bats on a consistent basis, and Walt Jocketty is trying everything he can to change that.  If that means that a fan favorite like Brandon Phillips has to go, or a guy who has thrown two no-hitters has to go, then so be it.  Baseball is a business just like any other sport, and players are going to come and go.  As a Reds fan, all I can do is trust that the ownership and front office know what they are doing – and that they are going to give the fans the best team they can put together.  The Reds are a couple of pieces away from getting where they want to go, and maybe having a new manager and most of all having new players will get them to that place.

 

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