On the heels of their fifth straight sub-.500 campaign, the Reds entered the offseason planning to post a higher payroll in 2019 than in years past. That remains the case, according to president Dick Williams, who said (via John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer) that “payroll will be up to levels we haven’t had before. We still have money to spend.” Williams’ comments imply the Reds will outdo their franchise-record Opening Day payroll from 2015, when they ran up a $115MM-plus tab, and Fay suggests they could ultimately climb toward the $130MM range. Moreover, even after acquiring righty Tanner Roark from the Nationals this week, the Reds remain “very engaged with multiple clubs” and are “talking trades with multiple clubs,” Williams added. Regardless of whether further upgrades come via trades, free agency or both, Cincinnati should still have enough money left to pick up an outfielder and find another starter to join Roark & Co. in its rotation, Fay posits.
Here’s more from the National League:
- The Giants have been speculative suitors for outfielder Bryce Harper, arguably the preeminent player on the open market, but they aren’t “currently involved in discussions with most high-profile free agents,” Kerry Crowley of the Bay Area News Group writes. Rather, in an effort to maintain payroll flexibility in 2020 and beyond, the Giants seem to be focusing on free agents who are likely to collect short-term contracts.
- Trading catcher J.T. Realmuto would leave a gaping hole behind the plate for the Marlins, who wouldn’t be able to adequately replace him this offseason. But if the Marlins do go the expected route and part with Realmuto, they may add a veteran backstop to work with their young pitching staff, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com relays. President Michael Hill acknowledged the team’s desire for an experienced catcher, saying “a person who is going to take care of your pitchers as you continue to build” could help those hurlers “turn into the championship pieces you think they can be.” Miami could acquire Realmuto’s replacement in its forthcoming trade for him, though that’s not a must, Frisaro notes. Aside from Realmuto, the only other catcher on the Marlins’ 40-man roster is Chad Wallach, who has all of 21 MLB games under his belt. The lone somewhat battle-tested backup in the organization is Bryan Holaday, a recent minor league signee who has achieved minimal success across 606 trips to the plate in the majors.
- Before he agreed to a three-year, $25MM contract with the Dodgers this week, hard-throwing reliever Joe Kelly drew interest from half the league (15 teams), according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Kelly revealed that the Dodgers were the first club to extend him a three-year offer.