As they continue to seek ways of boosting their roster for the 2019 campaign, the Reds are “pursuing” free agent center fielder A.J. Pollock, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter). That aligns well with another Thursday report from ESPN’s Buster Olney, who tweets that the Reds have been “active” in their search for outfield help over the past week. Additionally, Heyman notes, the Cincinnati org is still in on southpaw Dallas Keuchel, who’s arguably the top remaining free agent starter.
We recently noted the potential appeal of Pollock in breaking down the Reds’ offseason opportunities, though at the time it was pure speculation. Since that post went up, the Reds made clear they will indeed be pursuing some change in the outfield mix by non-tendering long-time center fielder Billy Hamilton. That move also saved the club a projected $5.9MM arbitration salary.
With Hamilton out of the picture, the Reds are left with a pair of left-handed hitters in Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker who feature as likely corner outfield pieces. The former is an option up the middle, though he has spent the bulk of his time as a professional in a corner spot.
There’s clearly a roster fit for Pollock, then, though it’s questionable whether the Reds will or should meet his rather lofty asking price. Of course, the club may simply have interest to a lower price point, though there should be some competition that’ll support Pollock’s earning power. The Mets are said to be in the mix, with other teams surely also involved. Entering the offseason, MLBTR predicted a four-year, $60MM deal for Pollock, who’ll also require draft compensation by virtue of having declined a qualifying offer.
If the Reds do go big on a single player, it’s certainly arguable it ought to be a pitcher. The rotation, after all, is still riddled with questions. The Reds’ interest in Keuchel was reported about a week ago. In the interim, two of the other best open-market arms — Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi — have reached deals, perhaps setting the stage for Keuchel and other pitchers to begin negotiating in earnest.