Cincinnati Reds Rumors

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

NL Central Links: Burnett, Hammel, Hoyer, Cueto

The Pirates had the inside track on signing A.J. Burnett, as agent Derek Braunecker told Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  “It’s the only place he wanted to play in 2015. He instructed me to negotiate exclusively with the Pirates and thankfully there was mutual interest,” Braunecker said.  Burnett enjoyed his previous stint in Pittsburgh and rejoined the Bucs on a one-year, $8.5MM deal.  Here’s some more from around the NL Central…

  • Mutual interest exists between the Cubs and free agent righty Jason Hammel, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.  Hammel pitched well during his three months as a Cub in 2014 prior to being traded to the A’s, and Mooney points out yet another connection between the two sides — Hammel played under Joe Maddon in Tampa in 2008.  At least nine teams and as many as 12 teams have reportedly shown interest in Hammel this offseason, including the Astros and Yankees.
  • The Cubs‘ trade for Tommy La Stellawasn’t a precursor to anything,” GM Jed Hoyer told reporters (including ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers).  “Sometimes you have to acquire guys that can get on-base. It’s something we needed.”  The La Stella deal seemed curious given how the Cubs already have a surplus of young middle infielders, though Hoyer said his team had tried to trade for La Stella “several times in the past.”
  • It’s an open question as to whether or not the Reds will sign Johnny Cueto to a new contract, though an extension shouldn’t be ruled out on purely financial reasons, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer opines.  Though Fay thinks extending Cueto would cost “probably north of $150MM,” the Reds will be seeing a revenue increase over the next few years thanks to a new TV deal.  If Cueto will take a back-loaded deal, that would lessen the burden on the Reds’ payroll until Brandon Phillips‘ contract is off the books following the 2017 campaign.
  • Fay thinks there is a “close to zero” chance that the Reds would trade Cueto this winter, since “owner Bob Castellini is not going to have a fire sale. Period.  He thinks this team can win and he wants to win badly.”  While Cincinnati seems likely to deal a starting pitcher this offseason, recent rumors suggest that Cueto will stay put.
  • The Cardinals should jump at the chance to acquire a power-hitting outfielder and not worry about blocking their young OF prospects, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch opines.  Miklasz feels the Cardinals have some long-term questions in their outfield since Jon Jay is “a year-to-year” player who almost lost his job last offseason, right field prospects Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk are unproven and veteran Matt Holliday is only under contract for two more seasons.

Central Links: Reds, Cubs, Avila, Tigers, Tomas, Butler

Reds GM Walt Jocketty is of the mindset that his team will need to either be “all in” or “all out” in 2015, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. In other words, if the Reds decide to trade one of four starters who is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season — Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon — others may very well follow. Sherman lists Jay Bruce and Aroldis Chapman as names to watch if Cincinnati does elect to go into a full rebuild. Both can be free agents after 2016, though the Reds have a club option on Bruce for the 2017 season.

Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…

  • Sherman also tweets that the Cubs aren’t likely to spend big on a closer this winter, which seemingly eliminates a potential suitor for David Robertson. Earlier today, reports indicated that Robertson is seeking a contract comparable to Jonathan Papelbon‘s four-year, $50MM contract.
  • The Tigers are willing to listen to offers on Alex Avila, tweets the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Avila has a $5.4MM club option for his final arb year and was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn the same amount in arbitration. Cafardo notes that the Braves and Red Sox are both looking for left-handed bats. While both have inexperienced catchers (Christian Bethancourt and Christian Vasquez, respectively), adding Avila would limit each team’s ability to get an extended look at how their young backstop handles a full workload.
  • John Manuel of Baseball America tweets that the Tigers‘ defense up the middle in 2015 could be special with Jose Iglesias and the newly acquired Anthony Gose. He also notes that Devon Travis, who went to the Blue Jays in the deal, now has a clear shot to Major League playing time that he may not have had in Detroit.
  • The Royals could scout Yasmany Tomas in the Dominican Republic next week, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Royals officials will be in the Dominican Republic on other business anyway and met with Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, earlier this week at the GM Meetings. The team’s payroll could surpass the $100MM mark for the first time next season, and there’s perhaps room for one significant expenditure such as Tomas, Ervin Santana or Melky Cabrera, McCullough writes.
  • Billy Butler is receiving interest from a number of clubs — even one National League club — tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The interest in Butler likely means that a return to the Royals isn’t the best fit, he adds. McCullough reported Tuesday that K.C. doesn’t seem inclined to go beyond two years to retain Butler.
  • Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wonders if the Brewers will consider trading a starting pitcher (Twitter link). The Brew Crew needs some payroll flexibility, and the Braves are one team that has been poking around at the GM Meetings.

Kevin Towers To Join Reds’ Front Office

NOVEMBER 12: Towers has officially signed on with Cincinnati, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. His title is not yet decided upon.

OCTOBER 24: Former Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers is expected to join the Reds’ front office to work with close friend Walt Jocketty in the near future, sources tell ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter link).

The 52-year-old Towers was removed from the role of GM in Arizona and offered a different position within the organization last month, but Towers declined the opportunity in order to seek a different role with another organization. Former player agent and assistant general manager Dave Stewart was named as Towers’ successor, with De Jon Watson jumping from the Dodgers to the D’Backs to serve as senior vice president of baseball operations.

Towers has previously served as general manager of the Padres as well, where he was one of the game’s longest-tenured GMs, occupying that role from 1995 through 2009. Between GM gigs, Towers worked as a special assignment scout in the Yankees front office. He’s known to have a strong scouting background and is described by some as having an old-school approach to the game.

Late last month, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reported that there were changes coming to Cincinnati’s front office, as assistant GM Bob Miller left the organization, though that split was said to be amicable in nature. A change at the top of the hierarchy doesn’t seem likely in the near future, as Jocketty himself inked a two-year extension in September that runs through the 2016 season.



NL Central Notes: Zimmermann, Cards, Miller

A rumored deal of Jordan Zimmermann to the Cubs is reportedly not happening, which makes sense to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal since such a trade wouldn’t really be a fit for either the Cubs or the Nationals.  The Cubs are likely to address their pitching need by either signing a top free agent arm or trading one of their infield prospects for a controllable younger arm.  Dealing for Zimmermann would the Cubs to both give up prospects and spend big, Rosenthal notes, since Chicago would obviously want to sign the righty to a long-term extension.

Here’s some more from around the NL Central…

  • The Cardinals are wary of making commitments that will result in future roadblocks to upcoming younger players, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  GM John Mozeliak notes that the team feels it could be “exposed” at first base or the corner outfield if it does not get the performances it hopes for, and is interested in left-handed relief help and a utility infielder.
  • In fact, the Cardinals met with representatives for Andrew Miller on Tuesday, Goold tweets. The meeting was characterized as exploratory in nature, though the fit is obvious.
  • Both the Cardinals and Reds had interest in Michael Cuddyer before he signed with the Mets, Goold reports in a separate piece.
  • Though the Reds are interested in Nori Aoki and Michael Morse, that is not an exclusive list, GM Walt Jocketty tells C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). The club’s top priority is adding offense, and it is considering trade scenarios in addition to looking at the free agent market.

Phillies Notes: Byrd, Howard, Tomas, Rollins

They’re trying to blow the whole thing up.  Everyone is for sale,” a rival executive tells CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury about the Phillies’ offseason plans.  The Phils will listen to offers on any player, though Cole Hamels and Ken Giles would require the most in return.  The rival exec wasn’t sure if the Phillies would find that desired price for Hamels, though he predicted that Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd would be moved this offseason.  “Detroit and Cincinnati are two teams to watch on Byrd,” Salisbury writes.

Here’s some more from the City of Brotherly Love…

  • The Royals have had internal discussions about acquiring Howard if the Phillies cover most of the $60MM remaining on Howard’s contract, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports.  Kansas City sees Howard as a possible replacement for Billy Butler at the DH spot.  UPDATE: The Royals’ interest in Howard is overblown, a source tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
  • The Phillies haven’t yet made an offer to Yasmany Tomas, agent Jay Alou told reports (including Salisbury).  Alou said that he and GM Ruben Amaro spoke today and negotiations are ongoing between the two sides.  Alou cited the Phils as one of “several teams that I could say are frontrunners” for Tomas, and noted that the Phillies had seen the outfielder work out a second time since his private workout for the club in September.
  • Amaro hasn’t spoken to Jimmy Rollins about the shortstop waiving his 10-and-5 rights to facilitate a trade to another team, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.  “If it is ever the right time, I will have the conversation, but Jimmy will be the one who decides where he is going,” Amaro said.
  • A trade of Domonic Brown for Jeremy Hellickson would make sense for both the Phillies and Rays, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News opines.  Lawrence makes it clear that he is just engaging in idle speculation about this proposed deal, as there is no evidence the Phillies are the NL team reportedly close to acquiring Hellickson.

NL Central Links: Hamels, Cards, Cueto, Reds

The Cubs weren’t included on Cole Hamels‘ updated 20-team no-trade list, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link).  The Cubs are known to be looking for top-of-the-rotation arms this winter, and the remaining four years/$96MM on Hamels’ contract would cost Chicago less than what it would take to sign a top free agent starter like Max Scherzer or Jon Lester.  On the other hand, the Cubs would have to give up multiple top prospects to obtain Hamels from the Phillies, so they could prefer to just keep their young talent and spend extra to sign a free agent ace.  The Red Sox are thus far the only team known to be on Hamels’ no-trade list.

Here’s more from around the NL Central…

  • Right field has sadly become an offseason concern for the Cardinals due to Oscar Taveras‘ untimely death, GM John Mozeliak told MLB.com’s Jen Langsoch.  “I think it certainly leaves that position in question,” Mozeliak said. “Clearly internally, we have [Randal] Grichuk and potentially [Stephen] Piscotty to fill that spot. I would also say that it does now force us to explore other options, whether it’s the free-agent market or the trade market….I’m not saying it’s a must, but I also think we need to be prudent and make sure that we understand what that landscape looks like.”  The Cards will explore both short-term and long-term options in RF, Mozeliak said.  Out of respect for Taveras, Mozeliak waited a week after the outfielder’s passing to begin making calls to agents and general managers, Langosch writes.
  • The Reds “are listening” to offers for their starting pitchers but ace Johnny Cueto seems the least likely to be moved, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  Cincinnati would probably have to be “absolutely overwhelmed” to deal Cueto, Heyman writes, as the team plans to contend in 2015.
  • Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan also hears that Cueto is unlikely to be traded, though rival executives tell Passan (Twitter link) that the Reds are willing to discuss trading Mat Latos and Mike Leake.
  • The Reds are “at [a] fascinating crossroads,” FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes in a series of tweets.  If the Reds deal Cueto, they might as well deal Aroldis Chapman too as part of a rebuild, Rosenthal opines.  Attendance and the fact that they’re hosting the All-Star Game could make 2015 a bit of a “buffer” year for the Reds, though Rosenthal points out that the team might not want to rebuild in a season when they’re hosting the Midsummer Classic.  Back in September, I explored Cincinnati’s trade options with their rotation members in a Trade Candidates piece.
  • Major League Baseball has opened an investigation into whether or not the Cubs tampered with Joe Maddon when he was still under contract with the Rays, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.  The Rays asked MLB to investigate last week.  “There was no tampering whatsoever,” Cubs president Theo Epstein told reporters (including ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers).  “I’d rather they investigate so we can clear our name and move on from this quickly. We’re giving our full cooperation and we welcome it.”

Nori Aoki Seeking Three-Year Deal

Free agent outfielder Nori Aoki is looking for a three-year deal, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). He’s currently drawing interest from both the Reds and the Royals, although Kansas City at the moment is said to be more interested in Torii Hunter, Heyman adds.

Aoki batted .285/.349/.360 in his lone season with the Royals and played a key role from a defensive standpoint as the team made its way to the World Series. However, he’s seen a precipitous drop in his power since coming to the Majors. After hitting 10 homers as a rookie with the Brewers in 2012, he hit eight in 2013 and just one in 2014. His isolated power dropped from .144 in 2012 to .084 in 2013 and .075 in 2014, although a portion of the most recent dip could at least be attributed to moving to the spacious Kauffman Stadium.

The Reds are in need of a left fielder and are said to also be targeting Mike Morse, while Kansas City has been linked to a reunion with Aoki on more than one occasion. However, there wouldn’t be room for both Hunter and Aoki in K.C., so it seems that for the time being, Aoki is on the back burner as GM Dayton Moore looks to add some punch to his lineup in the form of the veteran Hunter.

MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth recently profiled the 32-year-old Aoki and suggested that he could land something in the range of two-year, $16MM contract.


Front Office Notes: Geivett, Conner, Schugel

Here’s the latest front office moves around baseball.

  • The Astros are preparing to hire former Rockies Sr. VP of Baseball Operations Bill Geivett as a cross-checker, reports Tracy Ringolsby of MLB.com. Geivett was a finalist for the Astros GM job back when the club hired Jeff Luhnow in 2011. Geivett was recently fired from his post in Colorado after a 14 year tenure with the club.
  • The Reds have hired long-time scout Jeff Schugel as a special assistant to GM Walt Jocketty, Ringolsby notes in a separate article. Schugel and Jocketty worked together in 1994 with the Rockies. Schugel most recently served as a scout for the Braves.
  • The Padres are set to promote Mark Connor to be their director of amateur scouting, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The position opened when former director Billy Gasparino followed Josh Byrnes to the Dodgers. That news was reported two days ago by Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

NL Notes: Reds, Stanton, Cubs, Mets

The Reds could improve considerably in 2015 simply by getting the most out of their current roster, writes Richard Justice of MLB.com. With four starting pitchers a year from free agency, GM Walt Jocketty has the difficult decision to “hold ‘em or fold ‘em.” He could take one more shot at the postseason by luring a Michael Morse-type player, or he could begin the rebuilding process now. The market for his soon-to-be free agents could help him make the decision.

  • Marlins GM Dan Jennings says contract extension talks with Giancarlo Stanton are ongoing, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). There is no time table on the talks. In Justice’s article, he mentions the Cardinals as a possible fit for Stanton is extension talks with Miami fizzle.
  • We’ve heard everything when it comes to the Cubs and their place in the free agent market. GM Jed Hoyer showed part of his hand recently, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. The club would like to add some veteran leadership with Hoyer saying: “maybe a player in the starting lineup, maybe a bench player, maybe someone in the bullpen, maybe someone in the rotation.” That’s a lot of maybe’s, but the idea is that a veteran presence in each role can help the youngsters improve and develop character. Rogers has more comments from Hoyer that are well worth a read.
  • The Mets need to answer three questions at the GM Meetings, opines Mike Puma of the New York Post. Assuming the club isn’t satisfied with Wilmer Flores, the shortstop market must be gauged. A trade with either Chicago team might be the way to go. Outfield is another area of concern, with only Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson scheduled for regular roles. Lastly, GM Sandy Alderson should measure interest in Daniel Murphy.

Jocketty: Reds Free Agent List Includes Morse, Aoki

The Reds have outfielders Michael Morse and Nori Aoki on their list of free agent targets, GM Walt Jocketty tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). Jocketty said that he would prefer to find the outfield bat that the team needs on the open market rather than via trade.

Left field was a problem area for the Reds last year, as Ryan Ludwick performed at a below-replacement-level clip. The team did not pick up his option, preferring to pay a steep $4.5MM buyout rather than exercising it at $9MM.

Cincinnati does not figure to have a ton of payroll space to use in pursuing a replacement. After opening last year with a club record $114MM payroll, only to miss the postseason, the Reds currently have about $80.5MM in guaranteed money on the books for 2015 with upwards of $40MM in potential arbitration payouts yet to come.

Morse, 32, swings an impressive stick but has one of the league’s worst gloves on the outfield grass and comes with a reasonably concerning medical sheet. I recently predicted that he would ultimately land a two-year, $22MM deal this offseason, while noting that he probably makes more sense as a first baseman/DH playing in the American League. The 32-year-old Aoki, meanwhile, is more of an on-base specialist whose selling point is his all-around solid play. He could be somewhat cheaper than Morse, though he should receive wide interest.