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Walt Jocketty Rumors
The Reds announced that they have agreed to a three-year contract extension with GM Walt Jocketty that will keep him in place through 2014 (Twitter link). Reds owner Bob Castellini promised last week that he would bring the longtime GM back.
The Reds currently have a 76-80 record (though they have scored more runs than they've allowed) and sit in third place in the NL Central. They won the division with a 91-71 record last year and made their first trip to the postseason since 1995. They lost in the Division Series, but only after re-establishing their relevance in the division and boosting attendance by over 3,000 per game.
MLBTR's Transaction Tracker provides complete documentation of Jocketty's moves with Cincinnati. This is Jocketty's third full season with the Reds (this was the last year on his previous contract), but he has been a big league GM since 1994. Click here to see what they were saying when the Cardinals first hired him 17 years ago.
A few links to pass along regarding clubs in the Central divisions …
- The Indians are facing an offseason of difficult decisions, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. With basically the same roster, the Tribe's payroll would jump from $49MM in 2011 to roughly $70MM next season, explains Hoynes. Several key players like Shin-Soo Choo, Justin Masterson, Chris Perez and Asdrubal Cabrera will be eligible for arbitration, and the Indians own options on Grady Sizemore ($9MM) and Fausto Carmona ($7MM).
- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa dismissed a rumor that he will manage the Cubs next season, writes Kevin Roberts of MLB.com. A report surfaced earlier this week that the Cubs would hire La Russa and Reds GM Walt Jocketty (formerly the Cards' GM) in an effort to lure impending free agent Albert Pujols this offseason. This one seems to be falling apart, as Reds owner Bob Castellini has said Jocketty will be back with the Reds in 2012.
- The AL MVP Award is now Tigers righty Justin Verlander's to lose, opines Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).
The season has not gone according to plan for the Reds, who are 72-76 and 14.5 games back of the Brewers in the NL Central. GM Walt Jocketty's contract is up after the season, and there's been some speculation that he could be a fit for the Cubs. Reds owner Bob Castellini shot that down though, telling John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer that both Jocketty and manager Dusty Baker will be back.
"Walt's contract is up … There's been some speculation about his future. My instincts tell me he isn’t going anywhere," said Fay to Castellini, who replied: "Your instincts are correct." As for Baker, Castellini said: "Of course, he’ll be back."
Jocketty has been running the Reds since late-April of 2008, when he replaced Wayne Krisvky. Baker came on board a few months before Jocketty, agreeing to manage the Reds during the 2007-2008 offseason. The duo has helped the team go from 72-90 in 2007 to the NLDS and a division title last year, though this season has been a bit of a bump in the road.
To see all of Jocketty's moves with the Reds, check out our Transactions Tracker.
The Cubs currently project for the seventh overall pick in next year's draft. Once that is determined, things should get interesting on the North Side. The latest:
- The Reds will discuss the idea of signing third baseman Aramis Ramirez if he reaches free agency, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. I think signing Ramirez would really push the Reds' payroll to the limit, assuming they also pick up Brandon Phillips' club option. The Cubs must decide between Ramirez's $16MM club option and a $2MM buyout within five days of the end of the World Series, so the team's new GM may not yet be in place. After the Cubs decide, Ramirez has five days to make his choice on the option (declining would mean forfeiting the buyout). Ramirez wants to stay, but he recently told ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine he desires a two or three-year deal.
- One scenario raised during informal discussions (presumably ones including owner Tom Ricketts) has the Cubs hiring current Reds GM Walt Jocketty, which could then lead to the team snaring Tony La Russa to manage and Albert Pujols to play first base, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Jocketty declined to comment, saying that he's happy in Cincinnati, but also lavished praise on the Cubs job and noted that the team extending farm director Oneri Fleita "shouldn't be" a hindrance. Wittenmyer says the Cubs are gathering information on Andrew Friedman, Billy Beane, Dan Evans, and Ned Colletti so far. Ricketts has yet to ask permission to speak to any GM under contract, writes Levine. In a chat conducted yesterday, Levine guessed Rick Hahn would be the next Cubs' GM.
- Also in that chat, Levine wrote that Ricketts has identified the Cubs' primary need to be two or three starting pitchers. The beat writer does not think the team will spend their money this offseason on position players. He predicts a payroll in the $120-130MM range.
- Numerous Japanese teams have been scouting and are prepared to make offers to Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair, reports Levine. LaHair is intrigued but hopes to remain in the Majors. The 28-year-old snagged Pacific Coast League MVP honors by hitting .331/.405/.664 with 38 home runs in 523 plate appearances, and he's carried that success to the bigs in an eight-game stint. Former Cubs first baseman Micah Hoffpauir went the Japan route a year ago, but is hitting .245/.325/.429 for the Nippon Ham Fighters this year.
Aramis Ramirez, whose solo homer helped the Cubs beat the Reds tonight, will be looking for a multiyear deal this offseason. Here’s the latest from his division, with updates on his current club and the team that first signed him…
- There's no guarantee that Lance Berkman will be back in St. Louis next year, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes (on Twitter). Berkman has leverage, so a new deal is not a "slam dunk."
- For more on the Cardinals’ offseason plans, click here.
- The Cubs have held internal discussions about Jeff Samardzija as a candidate for the starting rotation, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. The Cubs have less rotation depth than they did earlier this year, as Wittenmyer explains. The right-hander has started five MLB games, but all 69 of his 2011 appearances have been in relief.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that he doesn't want to discuss his contract, which expires after the 2011 season. "It's not for public consumption,” he said. “It's not worth commenting on it."
- MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes discussed the free agent prospects of Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez earlier today.
- The Pirates have notified their Venezuelan academy that they're going to end their lease and stop participating in the Venezuelan Summer League, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Pittsburgh will field two teams in the Dominican Summer League next year, however.
By now, I'm sure you've looked over our list of players that will be free agents after the 2011 season numerous times, but what about general managers? With some help from Cot's Baseball Contracts, here's the list of GMs without contracts for 2012…
- Andy MacPhail, Orioles – Technically, MacPhail isn't the GM, he's the president of baseball operations. He's still the guy calling the shots though. Last October we heard that he doesn't have any plans to approach owner Peter Angelos about a new deal before his current one expires.
- Neal Huntington, Pirates – Team president Frank Coonelly said he expects Huntington to be in Pittsburgh "for a long time" earlier this year.
- Walt Jocketty, Reds – Cincinnati is clearly a team on the rise, so it seems likely that ownership would want to bring Jocketty back after the season.
- Dave Dombrowski, Tigers – A few months ago we heard that the fates of Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland could be a package deal based on the team's performance in 2011.
- Brian Cashman, Yankees – The third longest-tenured GM in the game would seem to be on rocky ground after being over-ruled by ownership on the Rafael Soriano signing, but we heard afterwards that he still has the "full backing" of the Steinbrenners.
Brendan Bianowicz continues to update the GM Trade History series, covering the NL Central today. Click below to download Excel spreadsheets chronicling trades, free agent signings, and top draft picks for each GM.
John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer gathered a few bits of information Saturday from Reds general manager Walt Jocketty:
- The Reds have made an offer to Laynce Nix, who was outrighted off the 40-man roster this week and elected free agency. Jocketty believes he "may take it" but first wants to "see what's out there."
- Jocketty believes the Reds will be able to "get something done" with arbitration-eligible outfielder Jonny Gomes, who hit .267/.338/.541 in 2009 with 20 home runs and 51 RBI. It's not clear if the two sides are talking about a multi-year deal, but that would make some sense.
- Jocketty also had some nice things to say about the prospects that the Reds added to their 40-man roster on Friday, protecting them from December's Rule 5 Draft.
To track the Reds throughout the offseason, check out MLBTR's team archive.
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.
The Reds seem certain to decline their $8.5MM club option on catcher Ramon Hernandez for 2010 and buy the 11-year veteran out for $1MM. The only question now is whether or not Cincinnati will part ways with Hernandez or whether they'll bring him back at a more club-friendly price.
Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he had met with Hernandez's agent, and gave a very neutral view of the negotiations between the team and the player: "We’ve made some progress. I don’t know if we’re close. But we’ll try to work something out.” As MLB.com's Mark Sheldon noted, the Reds could also decline Hernandez's option but offer him arbitration, thus putting themselves in line for a first-round sandwich pick if another team signed Hernandez, a Type B free agent.
Hernandez hit .258/.336/.362 in 331 plate appearances last season, appearing in 55 games behind the plate and 30 games at first base. He played in just four games after July 16 due to arthroscopic knee surgery.