Cincinnati Reds Rumors

Cincinnati Reds trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Central Notes: Lucroy Injury, Iglesias, Twins, Shields

The Brewers announced today that a mild right hamstring strain will cost All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy four to six weeks of action in Spring Training. Obviously, that news brings into question whether or not Lucroy can be ready for Opening Day with the Brewers. As Adam McCalvy of MLB.com writes, however, Lucroy recently had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his hamstring to speed the recovery process and believes he will be ready come Opening Day. The team does have a serviceable backup in Martin Maldonado, should Lucroy’s recovery take longer than expected, but even missing a few weeks of Lucroy’s bat and elite glove could be a significant detriment in what figures to be a highly competitive NL Central Division. (For more on Lucroy’s defense, check out this excellent article by Rob Arthur of Baseball Prospectus detailing the effect of pitch-framing not only on called strikes but on expanding a hitter’s swing profile.)

Here are a few more notes from the game’s Central divisions…

  • Cuban right-hander Raisel Iglesias, signed by the Reds to a seven-year, $27MM contract last summer, has a legitimate chance to end up in Cincinnati’s rotation, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer in looking at 10 pertinent questions facing the Reds as Spring Training approaches. Scouts in the Arizona Fall League and manager Bryan Price all raved to Fay about Iglesias’ AFL performance. “Four pitches with command — that spells out starting pitcher, especially when it’s plus-stuff across the board,” Price said. “He was 93-97, so the velocity is there. The action on his fastball is there, much better changeup than I anticipated seeing and two quality breaking balls and a good feel.” If Iglesias can indeed crack the rotation, that could be a significant boost to a team that saw both Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon depart via trade this winter.
  • Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN writes that he has been asked by Twins fans, and wondered himself, why Minnesota didn’t go on a Padres-like tear to restructure their roster into a win-now club. While Mackey concedes that Minnesota’s deep farm system makes it possible to have done something similar, he points out that the Padres had a lower payroll to start with than the Twins and even after their flurry of moves are now on par with Minnesota. Additionally, San Diego’s method comes with plenty of risk, as Justin Upton looks to be a one-year rental, and the team has taken the risk that Matt Kemp‘s arthritic hips will hold up, and James Shields‘ productivity will continue through age 36. Mackey looks at recent winter remakes by the 2008 Tigers and Mariners, the 2012 Marlins and 2013 Blue Jays and notes that none have been successful (though Detroit eventually emerged as a perennial contender). Ultimately, he concludes, his preference is for a long-term, sustainable run at success with a deep farm system, such as the one currently possessed by the Twins.
  • Twins VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff and several scouts were on hand today to watch Cuban right-hander Yadier Alvarez in the Dominican Republic, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Just 18 years old, Alvarez was clocked between 93 and 97 mph and received positive words from Fangraphs prospect/scouting guru Kiley McDaniel earlier today.
  • Though the Royals will miss Shields’ arm in their rotation, he gave them exactly what they needed at a time they needed it the most, writes MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Shields helped instill a winning culture in the Royals’ clubhouse, bringing a “swagger and a level of confidence that we didn’t have before,” GM Dayton Moore explained to Flanagan. Shields created a belief among his teammates that they could win on any given night and orchestrated elaborate victory celebrations. Not only that, but he became a role model for young arms such as Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura“He was a tremendous help to me,” Duffy told Flanagan. “You learn so much just talking to him.” In addition to those intangible benefits, of course, the Royals got two years of excellent production and the No. 33 pick in the 2015 draft.

Quick Hits: Porcello, White Sox, Frazier

If Rick Porcello‘s first season with the Red Sox goes well, he could be this season’s version of Jon Lester, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes. At the beginning of next offseason, Porcello will still be just 26, and his combination of youth and performance could mean he’ll be sorting through nine-figure contract offers, just as Lester did earlier this winter after playing part of last season in Boston. For now, Porcello doesn’t seem to be in any hurry. “Honestly, I haven’t even thought about that yet,” he says. “I think whether it’s a contract discussion or anything else that could possibly to be a distraction for the team I think it’s important for those things to be limited.” Here are more notes from around the league.

  • The White Sox‘ splashy offseason hasn’t come at the expense of their improving farm system, writes Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com writes. In particular, their trade for Jeff Samardzija didn’t come at too high a cost, especially considering the price the Athletics paid to get Samardzija in the first place. The White Sox have kept top prospects like Tim Anderson, Francellis Montas and Tyler Danish (and, of course, Carlos Rodon, although Rodon isn’t yet eligible to be traded anyway). “I was impressed,” says MLB.com’s Jim Callis. “Rick Hahn has done a tremendous job since he has been on the job of getting talent without giving up a whole lot, it doesn’t seem to me.”
  • Todd Frazier‘s new $12MM contract with the Reds only covers his first two arbitration-eligible seasons, but Frazier would be open to a longer extension at some point, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. “I think both sides are pretty happy about it,” Frazier says, referring to his new contract. “I think everybody wants a long-term deal and stability. Right now, we thought this was the best option for us.” From the Reds’ perspective, there might not be much need right now to sign Frazier long-term, since Frazier’s big-league career got off to a relatively late start. Including the extra season of arbitration eligibility following the expiration of Frazier’s new contract, the Reds already control his rights through his age-31 season, so a long-term deal would only buy out new seasons beginning at age 32.

Reds, Todd Frazier Agree To Two-Year Deal

The Reds and Todd Frazier have avoided arbitration with a two-year, $12MM deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). Frazier will receive $4.5MM in 2015 and $7.5MM in 2016, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon tweets. Frazier is a client of CAA Sports.

Frazier had filed for $5.7MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility, with the Reds countering at $3.9MM, according to MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker. With $4.8MM as the midpoint between those two figures, $12MM for this year and next accounts for what would have been a fairly typical arbitration-year raise for 2016, to the $7MM range. After the contract ends, Frazier will be under Reds control for one more year, and he will be eligible for arbitration after 2016.

Frazier, who will turn 29 next week, was one of the Reds’ top performers in the team’s tough 2014 season. Frazier hit .273/.336/.459, led the team with 29 homers and played in his first All-Star Game. He also received good marks for his defense at third base, posting an above-average UZR at the position for the third straight season.

With Frazier’s case now settled, the only remaining Reds player with a pending arbitration case is closer Aroldis Chapman.



Central Notes: Royals, Frazier, Chapman, Reds, Indians

The Royals should employ “selective memory” regarding their successful 2014 playoff run, writes Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star. During the Wild Card game, the Royals were just a few outs from elimination against the Athletics. A series of improbable events led to a remarkable comeback victory. Without that first win, Ned Yost would be a punching bag in the media due to questionable decisions, Mike Moustakas would have entered the offseason with another disappointing season on his resume, and Lorenzo Cain would have failed to gain national acclaim. The postseason success also allowed the Royals to bolster their payroll, which should help in 2015.

  • The Reds have two more arbitration players – Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman, writes Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. The club continues to talk to agents of both players in an effort to find a middle ground. Per GM Walt Jocketty, “we’re going to keep working on it this weekend and see if we can make some progress.” Both players have fairly substantial differences in their submitted figures. Frazier asked for $5.7MM compared to the club’s offer of $3.9MM in his first season of eligibility. Chapman’s camp submitted for $8.7MM while the Reds countered at $6.65MM. MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected a $4.6MM payday for Frazier and $8.3MM for Chapman.
  • The Reds are “pretty much done” with free agent signings, reports Sheldon. Cincinnati inked reliever Burke Badenhop earlier today and signed former closer Kevin Gregg to a minor league deal. Jocketty left the door open, saying he’ll see if “something pops up,” but it’s unlikely.
  • Patience allowed the Indians to acquire and develop three of their semi-homegrown stars, writes the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto. Michael Brantley was a player to be named later in the 2008 CC Sabathia trade. It took him six seasons to breakout at the major league level. In 2010, Corey Kluber was acquired in a three team trade. As we know, he also took awhile to reach his ceiling. Catcher Yan Gomes is another important trade acquisition for the club. Cleveland sent pitcher Esmil Rogers to Toronto in exchange for Gomes and Mike Aviles. All three players never ranked among the top 100 prospects in the game, and they’re all under club control through at least 2017.

Minor Moves: Kevin Gregg, Duane Below

Earlier today, the Reds announced that they’ve signed Kevin Gregg to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training. Gregg, 36, allowed 10 earned runs in nine innings with the Marlins last season before undergoing season-ending surgery to remove bone chips from his throwing elbow. The former Cubs/Marlins/Blue Jays closer has a lifetime 4.15 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 709 2/3 innings. He has a $1.5MM base salary on his contract should he make the team, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link).

Here are the rest of the day’s minor moves from around the league…

  • The Mets have signed left-hander Duane Below to a minor league contract, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Below, however, was not invited to big league camp. Instead, the former Tigers hurler will head to Triple-A and attempt to earn his way up to the big league roster with a strong performance in-season. Below, 29, has a 4.27 ERA in 78 big league innings, having averaged 5.2 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. Though he shows much better control versus lefties, he’s allowed nearly identical .716 and .715 OPS marks to right-handers and left-handers, respectively. He has a 3.60 career ERA in the minors with a 730-to-341 K/BB ratio in 883 innings. Below spent last season with Detroit’s Triple-A affiliate.

Reds Sign Burke Badenhop, Designate Ismael Guillon

1:03pm: Badenhop will earn $50K for reaching 45 appearances, $100K for 50 appearances and another $100K for 55 appearances, reports WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. He’s made 63 or more appearances in each of the past three seasons, making those bonuses seem highly attainable.

12:02pm: MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon adds (via Twitter) that Badenhop can earn up to $250K via performance bonuses.

11:45pm: Grantland’s Jonah Keri reports that Badenhop is guaranteed $2.5MM, as he’ll earn $1MM in 2015 and has a $1.5MM buyout on a $4MM mutual option for the 2016 season (Twitter links).

11:33pm: The Reds announced today that they have signed right-hander Burke Badenhop to a one-year contract with a mutual option for the 2016 season. Lefty Ismael Guillon has been designated for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

The contract should serve as a fine birthday present for Badenhop, who turns 32 years old tomorrow. The ground-ball specialist has been quietly excellent over the past three seasons despite being traded twice in that time, posting a combined 2.90 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 55.3 percent ground-ball rate. Badenhop, a client of ACES, has totaled 195 1/3 innings over that three-year stretch, spending one season each with the Rays, Brewers and Red Sox.

Badenhop was one of the top remaining arms on a relief market that still features right-handers Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano and Joba Chamberlain. He’ll slot into a bullpen that features lights-out closer Aroldis Chapman, setup man Sam LeCure and lefties Sean Marshall and Manny Parra. Reds fans looking to get to know their newest reliever can check out the MLBTR Podcast from Oct. 30, in which Badenhop himself was a guest and chatted with host Jeff Todd. Badenhop was an excellent interview, sharing insightful answers about his strengths and weaknesses as well as his knowledge of advanced metrics and experiences from pitching in multiple roles out of the bullpen.

As for Guillon, the soon-to-be 23-year-old has struggled over the past two seasons at two Class-A levels, pitching to a combined 4.82 ERA with 248 strikeouts against 150 walks in 244 2/3 innings of work. He ranked among Baseball America’s Top 30 Reds prospects following the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons, topping out at No. 9. Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel recently pegged him 21st among Reds farmhands, noting that his changeup is a 60-65 on the 20-80 scale, but his curve is below average, and his upside comes with maddening inconsistency. One Reds source described Guillon as a “pull your hair out kind of guy” to McDaniel, who noted that Guillon would be an intriguing waiver pickup should Cincinnati part ways with him.


Dayan Viciedo Unlikely To Land With Reds

12:21pm: Jocketty downplayed the likelihood of Viciedo ending up in Cincinnati when asked by MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon (Twitter link). While the GM again acknowledged that the Reds inquired on the slugger, he told Sheldon that Viciedo is looking for more playing time than the Reds can offer.

9:07am: The Reds have at least some interest in outfielder Dayan Viciedo, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The White Sox requested release waivers on Viciedo earlier this week.

We inquired about him,” says Reds GM Walt Jocketty. “I don’t know how far it will go. We’re looking at where we would play him.”

As Paul Swydan of Fangraphs noted yesterday, Viciedo would make some sense as a potential fit for the Reds, who lack bench players with offensive ability. Light-hitting utilityman Skip Schumaker currently projects as the Reds’ fourth outfielder. Although players like Kristopher Negron and Donald Lutz might be able to help somewhat in case of an injury to one of their starting outfielders, the Reds can clearly use a better, or at least an additional, contingency plan.

The 25-year-old Viciedo has significant flaws, of course. He hit just .231/.281/.405 in 2014, not a good showing given his poor defense. The righty does, however, have big-league power, with 21 homers last season, and he has youth on his side.


Quick Hits: Cueto, Leake, Papelbon, Stewart

An international draft is often pitched as the answer to big-market teams cornering the market on top international prospects, though Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron (writing for FOXSports.com) proposes that a firmer spending cap tied to Major League payroll would be a better solution. The proposal extends so far as to abolish the North American first-year player draft, giving smaller-revenue clubs a clearer path to acquiring young talent and giving prospects more freedom in choosing their future employers. Here’s some more from around baseball…

  • During an interview (hat tip to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon) on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show, Reds GM Walt Jocketty said that his team is still trying to extend Johnny Cueto. “With Johnny, we’ll never say ‘never.’ We are going to do everything we can to try and come up with some sort of plan to keep him,” Jocketty said. “I’m not sure we’ll be able to, because the numbers are obviously starting to skyrocket and it’s very tough in our market to continue to retain guys at a high price like that. We’ll continue to work on that and see where it comes out.” As last we heard earlier this month, the two sides had reportedly made little progress on an extension that would keep Cueto from free agency next winter.
  • Beyond Cueto, Mike Leake is also eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. Jocketty said the Reds kept Leake due to his consistency, and “We’ll see what we can do with him in the future as well” in terms of an extension.
  • Ruben Amaro thinks Jonathan Papelbonprobably will” still be a Phillie when Spring Training camp opens, though the GM told Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News that the closer’s status “could change. We’re still having discussions on a couple different fronts with regard to the players we have.” Papelbon has drawn a lot of trade buzz in recent days, with the Brewers rumored to be the favorites to acquire the stopper while the Blue Jays are longer-shot candidates.
  • The Diamondbacks haven’t made any progress in negotiations with Mark Trumbo and Addison Reed and it seems like both players’ cases will go to arbitration, GM Dave Stewart tells MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. A $1.6MM gap separates Trumbo and the Snakes ($6.9MM to $5.3MM) while Reed and the team are $900K apart ($5.6MM to $4.7MM).
  • Baseball America has released its 2015 ranking of the top ten prospects in each team’s farm system. More scouting information is available to BA subscribers.

Reds Sign Paul Maholm

The Reds have announced, via Twitter, they have signed left-hander Paul Maholm, which was first reported by CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. It is a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, tweets C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Maholm is represented by Bo McKinnis. No financial terms have been announced.

Maholm, who pitched for the Dodgers last year after signing a one-year, $1.5MM contract, saw his season cut short when he tore the ACL in his right knee while covering first base during a game in August. The 32-year-old told FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi recently his right knee is doing “great” and he has been undergoing his normal offseason regimen since December (Twitter link).

Maholm did pitch in 30 games for the Dodgers (eight starts and 22 relief appearances) posting an overall line of 4.84 ERA, a career-worst 4.3 K/9, and 3.6 BB/9 over 70 2/3 innings. Reds GM Walt Jocketty says Maholm will compete for a spot in the starting rotation, according to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. If Maholm impresses, he could land in the bullpen and be utilized, as he was by the Dodgers, in a swingman role.


NL East Notes: Gillick, Ichiro, Janssen

Today featured some important front office moves for a Phillies club that is facing some significant challenges — albeit with quite substantial resources — in the coming years. The team announced that longtime executive David Montgomery will return from a health-related hiatus to become the organization’s chairman, while current president Pat Gillick will retain that role.

Here’s the latest out of Philadelphia and the rest of the NL East:

  • Gillick leaves the impression that he is prepared to stay on board past the coming season, per Kevin Cooney of the Bucks County Courier Times (Twitter links). “I’ll do it as long as it is a challenge to me and [I am] capable of doing it,” said Gillick. “Age is just a number.” The 77-year-old Hall of Fame inductee reiterated that sentiment, and then some, in speaking with Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. “I’m going to probably stay in this position as long as ownership wants me to stay in it,” he said. Emphasizing that his prior expectation had been that Montgomery would return to the full-time president’s chair, Gillick said that he is “not really setting a timetable” on his time in office, though he does not expect to be “a long, long-term replacement.”
  • While Gillick has obviously earned quite a bit of respect over his years in the game, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News asks whether he really is the right man for to lead a rebuild at this juncture. While moving veteran assets for the best return possible is a straightforward-enough function, says Murphy, it will be much more tricky to make the right decisions in applying Philadelphia’s financial might to acquire the right new talent. Though Gillick oversaw many winning clubs, and adeptly constructed big league rosters, Murphy also points out that the organizations he guided tended not to be set up well for the long haul and that the baseline circumstances (rules, modes of analysis, and the like) were quite different in his heyday.
  • The Marlins obviously were interested in adding Ichiro Suzuki as a veteran presence to their young outfield and hopefully getting a late-career renaissance from an all-time great ballplayer, but the club also was interested in his nationality, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. President of baseball operations Michael Hill and president David Samson both emphasized the fact that Ichiro’s Japanese heritage was a factor in his signing. Indeed, the front office traveled to Tokyo to announced the deal. “It’s a bonus he’s a Hall of Famer and a Japanese player,” said Samson, who noted that Miami was one of only two teams (the Reds being the other) that had yet to employ a Japanese ballplayer. (For what it’s worth, Cincinnati has fielded a Korean player.)
  • Bringing in veteran reliever Casey Janssen fills the final hole for the Nationals, writes MLB.com’s Phil Rogers. The veteran should slot in nicely in a setup capacity while also providing some insurance in the closer position, says Rogers.