Add the Reds to the list of teams that are slashing, rather than spending, this off-season. Fanhouse's Ed Price and Jeff Fletcher are reporting that Cincinnati is looking to cut their payroll from $71MM in 2009 to between the $65-$70MM range next season. While it may not sound like much of a reduction, Cot's Baseball Contracts lists the Reds as owing just under $66MM to just ten players for next season, leaving little room to fill out the rest of the roster.
Lagging attendance figures are to blame for the Reds' financial cutbacks. Price and Fletcher noted that attendance at the Great American Ballpark dropped by more than 15 percent from 2008 to 2009. General manager Walt Jocketty was quoted in the piece as saying, "We're going to probably have less to spend this year than we have in the past…It just depends on how [ticket] sales go this offseason."
If Cincinnati does make a deal, the likeliest candidates to be moved are second baseman Brandon Phillips (owed just under $7MM in 2010), and pitchers Aaron Harang ($12.5MM) and Bronson Arroyo ($12.25MM). Phillips, with his .452 slugging percentage over the last four seasons, is the most attractive candidate to other clubs given his power from the second base position and reasonable contract. Harang and Arroyo are both coming off decent years themselves, but Price and Fletcher speculate that their bigger contract numbers would require the Reds to absorb a chunk of their salaries if traded.
One star player who looks to be staying in Cincinnati is closer Francisco Cordero, who Price and Fletcher say the club "would prefer to keep" despite the $25MM he's owed through 2011. A very intriguing trade chip could be young slugger Joey Votto, if the Reds wanted to make room for star prospect Yonder Alonso at first base. Another team could be convinced to take on a bad contract if it meant getting Votto, who isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2013 season.