The Reds are “keeping an eye on” top Cuban outfield prospect Luis Robert, reports Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Manager Dick Williams called Robert “a physical specimen” when speaking to Buchanan, adding that the Reds have scouted Robert several times in the past. The price tag on Robert, of course, will be a major consideration for the Reds, but Buchanan points out that Cincinnati has greater incentive than most clubs to break the bank on the 19-year-old. Cincinnati has already soared past its international bonus pool, meaning they’ll be prohibited from signing any player for more than $300K in either of the next two international signing periods. If Robert is declared a free agent before the current period ends on June 15, it’s logical for the Reds to make one last splash while they’re still allowed to do so. Williams, though, notes that they won’t pursue him at all costs. “I have no idea where the dollars are going to go on him,” says the GM. “It could be that it quickly gets outside of our comfort level.” The Padres, Cardinals, Astros, Braves, Athletics and Nationals are all over their allotted bonus pools as well.
More from the NL Central…
- The Brewers and Dodgers are still in touch on a potential trade involving Ryan Braun, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com, though there’s no indication that there are any serious negotiations at the moment. However, as Morosi notes, Braun effectively faces not one, but two trade deadlines this year, as he’ll receive 10-and-5 rights on May 24. Those rights — afforded to players with 10 years of Major League service time, the five most recent with one team — allow a player full veto power over any potential trades. Braun suggests to Morosi, though, that his no-trade provisions may not be a significant factor simply because the communication between him and the Milwaukee front office is strong. “I have such a great relationship with [Brewers owner] Mark Attanasio, [general manager] David Stearns and [assistant general manager] Matt Arnold,” says Braun. “We’re all really on the same page when it comes to my situation.” The full column is rife with quotes from Braun — covering far more than just his trade candidacy — and is well worth a full read.
- After finishing the 2016 season with a $99.9MM payroll, the Pirates opened 2017 with a payroll of about $91.5MM, per the Associated Press, and Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette spoke to GM Neal Huntington about the change. “It’s a product of how we chose to allocate the dollars,” says Huntington. “With Jung Ho Kang’s money, our thought is at some point in time we’ll be responsible for the dollars once he’s able to get here and return to the major league level.” Huntington also notes that the team made a late decision to move on from Jared Hughes, who would’ve otherwise accounted for another $2.8MM on the payroll. Instead, as Brink notes, the Buccos are on the hook for about $740K of that would-be salary. And, Brink points out, the payroll will organically increase over the course of the season, as additional players are brought up to the MLB level.