Reds Prioritizing Leadoff Hitter, Bench Help

The Reds won their division for the first time since 1995 this season, and did so thanks to an offense that led the NL in runs (790), batting average (.272), slugging percentage (.436), and OPS (.774). They did all that despite a collection of leadoff hitters that reached base just 30.6% of the time, third worst in baseball. Unsurprisingly, GM Walt Jocketty told MLB.com's Marl Sheldon that finding someone to bat atop the lineup is one of their offseason priorities. 

"We've been talking to clubs and looking for a potential leadoff hitter, and maybe someone to improve our bench," said Jocketty. "There's not a great deal to do, but we're talking a lot. Generally, we talk to clubs before we come down and follow up here with discussions. We, hopefully, finish what we start [here] at the Winter Meetings. I don't know if we'll find a [leadoff hitter] or not."

Brandon Phillips settled in as the team's leadoff hitter in late June but didn't improve the situation; he hit just .247/.302/.387 from that point on. Ideally the team would employ his power lower in the lineup anyway. Orlando Cabrera also spent time hitting leadoff, but he produced just a .225/.268/.297 batting line from the top spot.  Last week, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted the Reds would fill their leadoff need by signing free agent Scott Podsednik.

The team just re-signed catcher Ramon Hernandez to a one-year, $3MM contract, a deal that is looking good in the wake of John Buck's near-agreement with Florida.  Earlier tonight we learned that Jocketty will get in touch will Miguel Cairo, who hit .290/.353/.410 in a reserve role last season. That won't solve Cincinnati's need for a table-setter, but should help shore up the bench.


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