Cincinnati Reds Rumors

Cincinnati Reds trade and free agent rumors from

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

With the deadline to exchange arbitration figures set for noon CT, there figure to be a large number of agreements to avoid arb today, as there were yesterday. All arbitration agreements can be followed using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, and we’ll keep track of today’s smaller agreements in this post, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

  • Righty Henderson Alvarez agreed to a $4MM deal with the Marlins, Jon Heyman of reported earlier today on Twitter. Alvarez had been projected to earn $4.5MM after putting up a huge 187-inning, 2.65 ERA campaign entering his first season of arb eligibility.
  • The Athletics have agreed to a $1.4MM deal with righty Ryan Cook that includes,’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. Cook gets a slight increase over the $1.3MM he had been projected to earn. Oakland has also inked outfielder Sam Fuld to a $1.75MM deal, per Mike Perchik of WAPT (via Twitter). He too lands just above his projection, which was for $1.6MM.
  • Outfielder Collin Cowgill avoided arbitration with the Angels for $995K,’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. He was projected to earn $900K.
  • Righties David Carpenter and Nathan Eovaldi both have deals with the Yankees, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. Carpenter will earn about $1.3MM while Eovaldi will take home $3.3MM
  • The Rockies have a deal in place with lefty Rex Brothers, tweets’s Thomas Harding. Brothers was projected to earn $1.3MM but will take home $1.4MM, Harding adds via Twitter.
  • ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports that the Cubs have settled with both Travis Wood and Luis Valbuena (Twitter links). Wood will receive $5.686MM — a bit north of his $5.5MM projection, while Valbuena will earn $4.2MM, per Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (on Twitter). Valbuena was projected to earn $3.1MM.
  • Mike Perchick of WAPT in New Jersey has a wave of arbitration agreements, starting with the Astros and Hank Conger settling on a $1.075MM, which is just $25K behind Swartz’s projection (Twitter link).
  • Also via Perchick, the Athletics and Brett Lawrie settled on a $1.925MM contract (Twitter links). Lawrie, who had been projected at $1.8MM, was acquired by Oakland in the Josh Donaldson blockbuster.
  • Rockies backstop Michael McKenry will earn $1.0876MM in 2015, via Perchick. McKenry was projected by Swartz to earn $1.5MM.
  • Michael Pineda and the Yankees settled on a $2.1MM salary for the upcoming season, Perchick tweets, which is a direct match with Swartz’s projection.
  • Domonic Brown and the Phillies settled on a one-year pact worth $2.6MM, via Perchick, which represents a difference of just $100K between Swartz’s projection and the actual figure. Jim Salisbury of tweets that Ben Revere has avoided arbitration as well, and the club now announces that he’ll earn $4.1MM — $100K north of his $4MM projection.
  • Red Sox setup man Junichi Tazawa agreed to a $2.25MM payday, according to Perchick. Swartz had pegged him for a $2MM contract.


Reds, Mike Leake Avoid Arbitration

The Reds have avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Leake, according to Mark Sheldon of  The two sides agreed to a one-year, $9.775MM deal.

Leake, 27, was projected to earn $9.5MM by Matt Swartz’s model.  The new deal represents a healthy pay bump for the right-hander, who earned $5.9MM in 2014.

Leake pitched to a 3.70 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 33 starts last season, his third straight campaign with 30+ starts.  Advanced metrics such as xFIP (3.49) were kinder to him than ERA last season.  This was Leake’s final year of arbitration eligibility and he’ll be able to hit the open market next winter.

Central Notes: Stauffer, Brewers, Indians, Baker, Viciedo

Though he receives only a $2.2MM guarantee, recently-signed Twins righty Tim Stauffer can earn significantly more through incentives, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. Stauffer can max out his deal at a total of $3.95MM ($1.75MM bonus) if he makes 55 appearances in the coming season. He can earn $250K bonuses upon his 15th, 18th, 21st, 24th, and 27th appearances, land $100K for the 45th time he takes the hill, and nab another $250K at number fifty-five.

Here’s more from the central divisions:

  • The Brewers and Indians are among the teams on the market for late-inning relief help, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Neither team intends to “spend big,” however, Rosenthal adds. Several established pen arms remain available through free agency.
  • We heard yesterday that righty Scott Baker had interest from five clubs that were offering minor league deals. The Reds are one of the teams pursuing the veteran, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, whereas the Twins are not involved.
  • The White Sox could still cut Dayan Viciedo loose this spring after agreeing to avoid arbitration, writes SB Nation’s Jim Margalus, but the club would still be on the hook for a portion of his $4.4MM salary. Margalus breaks down recent instances of such scenarios, but explains that the actual cost to teams (as well as the presence or results of any grievance proceedings) remains largely unknown publicly. At this point, a spot as a bench bat seems the likeliest outcome, though a trade is still possible.

Minor Moves: Cabrera, Skipworth, Blackley

Here are the notable minor moves of the day:

  • The Reds released a list of nineteen non-roster invites to big league camp this spring, including several minor league free agent signings (via’s Mark Sheldon). Among those not previously reported are catchers Ramon Cabrera, who was released by the Pirates earlier in the offseason, and Kyle Skipworth, who had spent his entire career in the Marlins organization. Neither player has seen significant MLB action, though Skipworth did get a cup of coffee in 2013. Cabrera has flashed some solid numbers with the bat in the minors, though both backstops put up sub-.700 OPS campaigns last year.
  • Former big league lefty Travis Blackley says that he has signed a deal with the Giants (via Instagram). The 32-year-old Aussie saw action in parts of four MLB seasons, working to a 5.23 ERA over 192 2/3 frames (including 26 starts) with 6.2 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9. He threw only 13 innings last year with Rakuten of Japan’s NPB.

Quick Hits: Burnett, Red Sox, Yankees, Reds

On this date 42 years ago, MLB owners unanimously approved a three-year experiment for the American League to use the designated hitter. The initial vote had all NL owners vetoing the DH while the AL split 8-4 in favor with the concept’s creator, A’s owner Charlie Finley, voting against because his idea of a designated runner was nixed.

Here’s the latest from around baseball:

  • Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett tells Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this will be his last season. “I got one (season) left,” said Burnett. “It’s going to be one of those rides where you know it’s the end.
  • The Red Sox, with their current roster, are poised to exceed the luxury tax threshold and will set an Opening Day record of more than $193MM, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. The overage may only last one season, as MacPherson notes the club’s 2016 payroll obligations total $130MM.
  • The current Yankee roster is more intuned with GM Brian Cashman’s philosophy than previous years, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. “We’re just trying to improve ourselves and get better,” Cashman told Davidoff. “We’re trying to plot a new road to another championship. I think we’re more diverse and have more flexibility.
  • The Yankees are expected to hire Jeff Pentland as their hitting coach, Alan Cockrell as assistant hitting coach, and Joe Espada as their infield coach beating out Willie Randolph, reports YES Network’s Jack Curry (Twitter links).
  • Fangraphs’ David Laurila opines the Reds are spinning their wheels this offseason by trading established starting pitchers Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon for decent-but-not-great prospects and surrendering a prospect for the 37-year-old Marlon Byrd.

Quick Hits: Orioles, Ogando, Santana, Reds

The Orioles could be preparing for Delmon Young to play more next season, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. “Delmon Young is an accomplished major league hitter who had a nice year with a lot of clutch hits in part-time duty in 2014,” texts Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette. “We look forward to his return and contribution on our 2015 team. Depending on how the team is structured, he could have a more vital role this season.” Playing the right-handed Young more regularly could help make up for the loss of Nelson Cruz, although the Orioles continue to look at the left-handed Colby Rasmus as well, with an Orioles source telling Encina the odds that the team will sign him are “50-50.” Here are more notes from around baseball.

  • About two dozen teams were expected to be on hand for Alexi Ogando‘s showcase yesterday in Tampa, tweets Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons. Ogando, 31, was non-tendered by the Rangers this offseason after he missed much of the 2014 campaign with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Although he had a rough time in 2014 with an ERA near 7.00, Ogando entered the season with a career 3.12 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 381 innings split between the Rangers’ rotation and bullpen. Given his track record of success as both a starter and reliever, it’s not surprising that more than two-thirds of the team in the league would want to get a look at him to gauge his health for themselves.
  • Johan Santana is again plotting a comeback, and’s Jerry Crasnick updates his progress. The lefty is preparing to appear in a Venezuelan winter league game and hopes to sign before camp opens, agent Peter Greenberg says.
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty didn’t want to handicap the odds of his club signing ace Johnny Cueto to an extension prior to his specified Opening Day deadline when asked by’s Mark Sheldon. Jocketty says the Cincinnati front office has a lot on its plate right now, with arbitration cases for Mike Leake, Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman and Zack Cozart on the horizon. The Reds are also still pursuing upgrades for the bench and bullpen — a process Jocketty referred to as “slow.” Sheldon feels that given the Reds’ full 40-man roster, the most likely scenario would be a few additions on minor league deals with invites to big league camp.

Reds Claim Keyvius Sampson From Padres

The Reds have claimed right-hander Keyvius Sampson off waivers from the Padres, assistant director of media relations Jamie Ramsey announced today (on Twitter). This waiver claim gives the Reds a full 40-man roster.

The 23-year-old Sampson found himself designated for assignment last week to clear roster space following the acquisition Shawn Kelley from the Yankees. Sampson was long regarded by Baseball America as one of the Padres’ top 30 prospects, peaking at No. 9 just last offseason. However, Sampson had a very rough season in 2014, struggling to a 6.68 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 6.7 BB/9 in 91 2/3 innings between the rotation and bullpen at Triple-A El Paso.

Nonetheless, the former fourth-round pick does come with some upside for the Reds. As recently as last offseason, BA noted that Sampson sat 93 to 95 mph with his fastball and had scrapped a below-average curveball for a more effective slider. Those two pitches paired with a “quality changeup,” per BA, though their scouting report noted that his below-average command could be an obstacle, and that was clearly the case in 2014.

NL Central Notes: Kang, Cueto, Garrett, Reds, Cards

Alan Nero, the agent for Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang, is confident that his client will reach a deal with the Pirates, he tells Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Nero described the negotiation process as positive and said that GM Neal Huntington has “tried very hard to basically come to the table with an offer.” Brink notes that Kang could begin the season in a bench role, providing insurance in case Neil Walker‘s back continues to be problematic or in case Jordy Mercer struggles at short. I’d think that given the expected financial commitment, the Pirates will look to get Kang as many at-bats as possible.

More news from the NL Central…

  • There’s been no recent progress in extension talks between the Reds and Johnny Cueto, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Cueto’s agent said last month that his client loves Cincinnati and is open to staying for the right price, but they’ll only talk extension prior to the start of the regular season.
  • Reds prospect Amir Garrett has thrived after giving up basketball this past year, writes’s Mark Sheldon. Cincinnati selected Garrett in the 22nd round of the 2011 draft and allowed him to play college basketball as well, but the left-hander explained to Sheldon why he elected to give his full attention to one sport for the first time in his life. Reds player development director Jeff Graupe tells Sheldon that the shift to focus solely on baseball is a large reason behind Garrett’s 2.86 ERA over his final 14 starts. Now on the 40-man roster, Garrett will be in big league camp for the first time in 2015.
  • In a piece for Baseball America, the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans spoke with Reds GM Walt Jocketty about his club’s direction for the future. Jocketty stressed the importance of stockpiling pitching talent — something the club has made an effort to do in recent drafts — as the key to sustained success. The breakthroughs of both Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier have given the Reds even more reason for optimism, Rosecrans writes, but there are still questions in the rotation and with some of the club’s injured stars.
  • Though reports have indicated that the Cardinals are toying with the idea of adding a front-line starter such as Cole Hamels, Max Scherzer or David Price, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeff Gordon feels that the Cards should trust the depth they have and make only a minor addition, if any. (Gordon suggests that flipping Peter Bourjos for a lower-caliber arm could make sense.) Any trade for Price or Hamels would likely have to include one of Stephen Piscotty or Randal Grichuk (among other players, of course), which would leave the Cardinals thin when Jason Heyward hits free agency next winter. Gordon notes that the trade of Shelby Miller in the Heyward deal suggest that GM John Mozeliak and his staff are confident in Michael Wacha‘s ability to rebound from injury, thereby lessening the need for a large addition.

Quick Hits: Red Sox, Maurer, Reds

It was on this day in 1986 that former White Sox, Indians and St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck passed away at the age of 71.  Veeck helped break the American League’s color barrier by signing Larry Doby in 1947 and he was the last owner to bring Cleveland a World Series title, though he is perhaps best remembered today for the wacky promotions he used to draw crowds and entertain fans at the ballpark.  My personal favorite was “Grandstand Managers Night,” when over a thousand St. Louis fans used placards to ‘manage’ the Browns to a victory over the A’s (Steve Wulf recently wrote about the promotion for ESPN The Magazine).

Here’s some news from around the league…

  • The Red Sox have made an effort to add more regulars between the prime ages of 26-30 over the last several months, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe writes, as the 2014 team suffered from a mix of too many inexperienced young players and too many 30+ players who had declining seasons.  “There’s no question that finding guys in that age range is appealing,” GM Ben Cherington said. “It’s a safer age range to be in if you’re investing in a player. To be clear, it’s not like we didn’t want that last year. It’s just, what were the alternatives? What were the possibilities? If we could build a team every year full of 26- to 30-year-olds, we would.”
  • The Padres‘ acquisition of Brandon Maurer could pay even bigger dividends if the team explores turning Maurer back into a starting pitcher, Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan writes for  As Sullivan notes, Maurer is a decent comparable to Tyson Ross, who has enjoyed great success as a starter since coming to San Diego two years ago.
  • In a comparison that surely can’t excite Cincinnati fans, ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider-only link) writes that “The Reds…are probably where the Phillies were a year ago, although they could use a decisive determination.”  Reds owner Bob Castellini is too competitive to commit to a brief rebuild, leaving the team in the difficult position of subtracting salaries (like Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon) but also adding win-now pieces (like Marlon Byrd) at the same time.
  • Also from Olney, “recent machinations within the Boston organization” seem to be leading to “less influence” for Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox president/CEO.
  • A number of Yankees topics are addressed in a fan mailbag piece by Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog, including a prediction by Axisa that New York will “go hard after Doug Fister” when the righty hits free agency next winter.  Fister was originally drafted by the Yankees in 2005 and he’d require a smaller salary than other impending free agent starters like Johnny Cueto or Jordan Zimmermann.
  • Also from Axisa, the Yankees could wait until after 2016 to make another big free agent splurge since the Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran contracts will be off the books.  The Yankees’ strategy seems to be to sign several major players in a single offseason (as they did in 2013-14) to sacrifice only one year’s worth of high draft picks, and going on a spending spree in 2014-15 could result in a payroll in the $250MM range.

Reactions To The Marlon Byrd Trade

Earlier today, we witnessed what might be the last trade of 2014. The Phillies swapped outfielder Marlon Byrd and $4MM to the Reds for pitching prospect Ben Lively. Here’s the latest related to the move:

  • Trade talks were initiated during the GM Meetings in November, writes’s Mark Sheldon. GMs Walk Jocketty and Ruben Amaro continued to work closely on the deal over the last couple weeks. Philadelphia’s decision to include $4MM likely played a large role in netting a strong return.
  • Reds manager Bryan Price praised Byrd’s intangibles, reports Sheldon. According to Price, Byrd will fill a much needed role of run producer, but he can also help the club build a professional culture. Jocketty also acknowledged Byrd’s work ethic and leadership.
  • ESPN’s Keith Law likes the trade for Philadelphia. They continue the much needed mission of rebuilding, and the return is about as good as can be expected for Byrd. The Reds perspective is a lot harder to support. They’re walking a fine line between rebuilding and contending, but it seems like they’re getting the worst of both worlds. For what it’s worth, I suspect the Reds plan to re-sell Byrd at the trade deadline. If he’s not performing well enough to be traded, they can bench him to avoid the vesting option (which triggers in 550 plate appearances).
  • Jocketty says the Reds will focus on adding to the bullpen and bench, writes C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Byrd deal crosses left-fielder off the club’s to-do list. I would add rotation depth as another area of concern.