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.