SI.com's Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the Cincinnati Reds might field offers for Brandon Phillips, Francisco Cordero, and Bronson Arroyo.
We've heard plenty of speculation that the trade market will be more vibrant this offseason than the free agent market, with so few big names available through free agency. Phillips and Cordero would each match up well with the best free agents available at their respective positions, and even Arroyo posted a 3.84 ERA in 220.1 IP this season. Teams may be more inclined to inquire about their price tags than to dish out long-term contracts to similar or lesser free agents.
The Reds once again finished below .500 last year in the NL Central, and are looking up at the Cardinals, Cubs, and Brewers, who all seem more likely than Cincinnati to add an impact talent this winter. The Reds are not a large-market team; their 2009 payroll sat at $73MM, and we heard earlier this week that it'll be even smaller in 2010. It makes sense that they would explore the return on a few of their bigger contracts and attempt to rebuild around players like Jay Bruce, Edinson Volquez, and Joey Votto (or top first base prospect Yonder Alonso).
These contracts won't be easy for the Reds to move, however. Cordero's deal runs through 2011, with a club option for 2012. In each of the next two seasons, he'll make $12MM, and a limited no-trade clause could complicate matters even more. Arroyo will earn $11MM in 2010, with a $11MM club option for 2011. Phillips is a little cheaper for now, earning $6.75MM in 2010. He'll also make $11MM in 2011 though, with a club option for 2012.
An all-out fire sale seems unlikely, but the Reds could earn salary relief, and maybe even decent prospects, in exchange for Phillips, Cordero or Arroyo (or, for that matter, Aaron Harang). On the other hand, it might kill whatever hope the team has of contending in the near future. So what do you think, Reds fans? Would you like to see the club explore trade options, or is there a better way to restore the franchise to prominence?
Check out Tim's offseason outlook for the Reds to see all of the team's 2010 commitments. And if you missed it earlier today, click here for his analysis of the trade market for starters, which includes Arroyo and Harang.