MLB Trade Rumors » » Cincinnati Reds Sat, 20 Jan 2018 06:17:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hamilton Talks Between Reds, Giants Are "Dormant" Wed, 17 Jan 2018 23:26:03 +0000 While Billy Hamilton’s name has been oft-mentioned in trade rumblings this offseason, a deal involving the Reds’ fleet-footed center fielder may not be all that likely, writes Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. San Francisco’s acquisition of Andrew McCutchen doesn’t have much of an impact on the Giants’ chances of swinging a deal for Hamilton as they look to add a strong defender with their (limited) remaining financial resources. But, Buchanan reports after speaking with multiple sources, a deal was looking “unlikely” anyhow. Talks between the Giants and Reds regarding Hamilton have gone “dormant,” per Buchanan, adding that one source expects Hamilton to be in Cincinnati come Opening Day.

Reds, David Hernandez In "Serious Discussions" Sat, 13 Jan 2018 19:56:59 +0000 The Reds are amid “serious discussions” with free agent reliever David Hernandez, though an agreement isn’t imminent, Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Cincy isn’t the only team after the right-handed Hernandez, per Buchanan, who notes that the Reds are also interested in other free agent relievers and aren’t necessarily limiting themselves to one-year deals as they look to improve their bullpen. On the heels of a strong 2017, Hernandez is seeking a multiyear pact, according to Buchanan. The recipient of a minor league contract last offseason, the 32-year-old Hernandez went on to toss 55 innings of 3.11 ERA ball and notch 8.51 K/9 against 1.47 BB/9 with the Angels and Diamondbacks.

Unresolved 2018 Arbitration Cases Sat, 13 Jan 2018 00:02:01 +0000 We’ve covered a whole lot of arbitration deals today, many of them reached before today’s deadline to exchange filing figures. Some other agreements have come together after team and player submitted their numbers. It’s still possible, of course, that these situations will be resolved before an arbitration hearing becomes necessary. (At this point, we seem to lack full clarity on teams’ approaches to negotiations after the filing deadline. And most organizations make exceptions for multi-year deals even if they have a file-and-trial stance.)

Some situations could even be dealt with in short order. As things stand, though, these unresolved arbitration cases could turn into significant hearings. (As always, MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration projections can be found here; you will also want to reference MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration tracker.)

Players Avoiding Arbitration: National League Fri, 12 Jan 2018 21:10:22 +0000 The deadline for MLB teams to exchange salary arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players is today at 1pm ET. As such, there will be a veritable flood of arb agreements piling up in the next few hours — especially in light of a more universal approach to the “file and trial” method for teams. (That is to say, those teams will no longer negotiate one-year deals after arb figures are exchanged and will instead head to a hearing with those players, barring an agreemenr on a multi-year deal.)

Note that you can keep an eye on all of today’s deals using MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, which can be filtered to show only the results of the team you follow and is also sortable by service time and dollar value of the agreement. All projections that are referenced come from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s annual compilation of projected arbitration salaries.

Onto today’s landslide of deals…

National League West

  • The Rockies have agreed to a $2MM salary with righty Chad Bettis, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). That’s a fair sight more than his $1.5MM projection. Bettis surely would have had an opportunity to set a bigger platform for himself, but had to battle through testicular cancer before returning to the hill in 2017. Meanwhile, second baseman DJ LeMahieu has settled for a $8.5MM payday in his final year of arbitration, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. That’s just a hair short of the $8.8MM he was pegged for in MLBTR’s projections.
  • Giants second baseman Joe Panik is slated to earn $3.45MM in his first season of arb eligibility, Devan Fink of SB Nation was first to tweet. That’s just a hair shy of the $3.5MM that MLBTR projected. Lefty Will Smith has settled at $2.5MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The club has also announced deals with its remaining arb-eligible players, right-handed relievers Sam Dyson ($4.6MM projection), Hunter Strickland ($1.7MM projection), and Cory Gearrin ($1.6MM projection). (H/t John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, on Twitter). Strickland earns $1.55MM, Nightengale tweets.
  • The Padres and Freddy Galvis agreed to a $6.825MM deal for his lone season of team control in San Diego, tweets Robert Murray of FanRag Sports. Galvis, who spent the first several seasons of his career in Philadelphia before being traded this winter, had been projected to make $7.4MM. Infielder Cory Spangenberg settled at $1.7MM, Heyman tweets, falling below a $2.0MM projection. San Diego has also reached agreements with righty Kirby Yates and outfielder Matt Szczur, the team announced. Yates will earn $1,062,500, Heyman tweets, which is just shy of his $1.1MM projection. Szczur, meanwhile, will get $950K, a healthy boost over his $800K projection, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link).
  • The Diamondbacks agreed to a $7.75MM deal with center fielder A.J. Pollock, Murray tweets. Pollock was projected to earn $8.4MM in his final year of eligibility before free agency. Murray also notes that Brad Boxberger is set to earn $1.85MM next year (Twitter link). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic adds that lefty Andrew Chafin ($1.2MM projection) and the D-backs have a $1.195MM deal in place. Third baseman Jake Lamb, meanwhile, agreed to a $4.275MM deal with the Diamondbacks, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link). Lamb, eligible for arbitration for the first time, was projected to earn $4.7MM. He’s controllable through 2020. And ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that Chris Herrmann ($1.4MM projection) landed a $1.3MM deal. Righty Taijuan Walker has settled for $4.825MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which is within range but shy of the $5.0MM he projected for. Lefty Robbie Ray has settled at $3.95MM, per Nightengale (Twitter link), which falls short of his $4.2MM projection. Infielder Nick Ahmed will $1.275MM, per Heyman (via Twitter), which tops the projected figure of $1.1MM. Arizona has also announced that Chris Owings and David Peralta have agreed to terms.
  • The Dodgers are in agreement on a $6MM deal with lefty Alex Wood, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). He had projected at $6.4MM. Meanwhile, righty Josh Fields agreed to a $2.2MM deal, tweets Murray. Heyman tweets that Enrique Hernandez will earn $1.6MM. Fields’ projection of $2.2MM was on the money, whereas Hernandez topped his mark by $300K. Fields is controlled through 2019, while Hernandez is controllable through 2020. Southpaw Tony Cingrani gets $2.3MM, Murray tweets, which is just a shade over his $2.2MM projection. Outfielder Joc Pederson has also settled, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter), with Beth Harris of the Associated Press reporting a $2.6MM salary that rather handily tops the $2.0MM that MLBTR projected.

National League Central

  • All three remaining Cardinals arb-eligibles have agreed to deals,’s Jenifer Langosch tweetsMarcell Ozuna will earn $9MM after drawin a much larger $10.9MM projection, Heyman tweets. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained that Ozuna likely wouldn’t quite reach the amount the algorithm suggested, though the actual salary still comes in a bit shy of expectations. Lefty Tyler Lyons ($1.3MM projection) receives $1.2MM, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The Cards have also reached agreement with Michael Wacha for $5.3MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter); he was projected to earn $5.9MM.
  • The Reds agreed to a $860K salary with Anthony DeSclafani, tweets Murray. DeSclafani missed the 2017 season due to arm troubles and had been projected to earn $1.1MM. He’ll remain under Reds control through 2020. Billy Hamilton and the Reds have settled on a one-year deal worth $4.6MM, tweets Murray. A popular trade candidate this offseason, Hamilton was projected to earn $5MM and comes with another two seasons of team control. Murray also conveys that Michael Lorenzen agreed to a $1.3125MM deal, which lines up fairly well with his $1.4MM projection.
  • The Cubs have struck a deal with lefty Justin Wilson, agreeing to a one-year, $4.25MM pact, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Wilson, who had been projected at $4.3MM, will be a free agent next winter. The Cubs alsoagreed to a $950K salary with infielder Tommy La Stella, tweets’s Carrie Muskat. La Stella was projected to make $1MM in his first offseason of arbitration eligiblity and can be controlled through 2020. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs have agreed to a $4.175MM salary, per Nightengale (on Twitter). That sum comes in a fair bit shy of his projected $4.9MM projection as a first-time eligible player. The Cubs control Hendricks through the 2020 season. Chicago also agreed with Addison Russell, per Wittenmyer (Twitter link). The shortstop will receive $3.2MM for the coming season.
  • Nightengale reports (on Twitter) that the Brewers and breakout closer Corey Knebel settled at $3.65MM. As a Super Two player, Knebel can be controlled through the 2021 season and will be arb-eligible thrice more. He was projected at $4.1MM.’s Adam McCalvy tweets that the Brewers and right-hander Jimmy Nelson settled at $3.7MM, which falls $1MM shy of his $4.7MM projection (though some of that discrepancy may be due to Nelson’s shoulder injury). Milwaukee also announced a deal for infielders Jonathan Villar (projected at $3MM) and Hernan Perez (projected at $2.2MM). McCalvy reports that Villar will earn $2.55MM, while terms of Perez’s deal are not yet available.
  • The Pirates have avoided arbitration with shortstop Jordy Mercer by settling on a $6.75MM salary for 2018, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Mercer, who’d been projected to earn $6.5MM, is entering his final year of team control and will be a free agent next winter. Biertempfel also reports that Gerrit Cole will earn that same $6.75MM salary in 2018 — a $3MM raise over last year (Twitter link). He has two years of control remaining and had been projected to earn $7.4MM. Righty George Kontos has also agreed to terms, per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). He had projected for $2.7MM and will receive a smidge more, at $2,725,000, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link).

National League East

  • The Braves reached a $3.4MM deal with righty Arodys Vizcaino, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). He’d been projected at $3.7MM. The Braves and righty Dan Winkler agreed to a $610K salary for the upcoming season, tweets Mark Bowman of Winkler tossed just 14 1/3 innings in the Majors this year as he made his way back from elbow surgery. He’d projected at $800K.
  • The Marlins and Miguel Rojas agreed to a $1.18MM deal for 2018, Heyman tweets, placing him north of his $1.1MM projection. Rojas should see additional playing time following the Marlins’ wave of trades this offseason. He’s controlled through 2020. Miami also has a deal in place with infielder Derek Dietrich for $2.9MM, Heyman tweets, after projecting at $3.2MM.
  • The Mets were able to settle perhaps their most notable arb case, agreeing to a $7.4MM deal with righty Jacob deGrom, per James Wagner of the New York Times (via Twitter). That’s well shy of his $9.2MM projection, though MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained the formula likely overestimated deGrom’s earning power by quite a wide margin. Fellow top righty Noah Syndergaard gets $2.975MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which goes a fair sight past the $1.9MM projection for the outstanding young starter, whose 2017 season was limited by injury. And reliever AJ Ramos will take home $9.225MM, according to Wagner (via Twitter). That’s just barely past the $9.2MM projection.  Wilmer Flores has also avoided arbitration with the Mets, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports (on Twitter). He’ll receive a $3.4MM salary, which falls within $300K of his projected rate. The Mets control Flores through the 2019 campaign. The Mets and right-hander Matt Harvey agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.625MM, tweets Nightengale. Harvey, who is a free agent next winter, had been projected to earn $5.9MM. Meanwhile, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets that Jeurys Familia will earn $7.925MM for the upcoming year, while Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that catcher Travis d’Arnaud will earn $3.475MM in 2018 (Twitter link). Familia, a free agent next winter, was projected at $7.4MM. The Mets control d’Arnaud through 2019, and his projection was $3.4MM. Righty Hansel Robles gets $900K, Heyman tweets.
  • Also via Nightengale (Twitter link), the Nationals agreed to a $6.475MM salary for 2018 with right-hander Tanner Roark. That falls about $1MM shy of his $7.5MM projection but still represents a noted raise of $4.315MM for Roark, whom the Nats control through 2019. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post adds that Michael Taylor will earn $2.525MM next year. Taylor is controlled through 2020 and was projected at $2.3MM.
  • The Phillies and Maikel Franco settled on a $2.95MM salary for the 2018 season, reports Jim Salisbury of (Twitter link). Franco, a Super Two player who’d been projected at $3.6MM, remains under club control with the Phils through the 2021 season. Second bagger Cesar Hernandez will earn at a $5.1MM rate in 2018, per’s Todd Zolecki (via Twitter). That beats his $4.7MM projection and wraps up this year’s arb business for the Phillies.
Reds Sign Vance Worley Tue, 09 Jan 2018 19:42:49 +0000 The Reds have signed righty Vance Worley to a minors deal that includes an invitation to the MLB side of Spring Training, per a club announcement. He’ll receive an opt-out opportunity at the end of camp and can earn a $1.5MM salary in the majors, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter links).

Worley, 30, contributed 71 2/3 innings over a dozen starts and another dozen relief appearances last year for the Marlins. He ended the season with an unsightly 6.91 ERA, though his peripherals suggest there was some poor fortune baked into the results.

On the year, Worley managed 6.3 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, and a 48.6% groundball rate — all numbers that land near his career averages. But he stranded just 64.5% of runners to reach against him and was tagged for a .378 batting average on balls in play. While that latter mark was deserved to an extent, it appears somewhat out of line given that Worley surrendered a .405 wOBA but carried a .364 xwOBA.

Of course, Worley enjoyed much better fortune in a 86 2/3-inning stint with the Orioles in 2016, when he managed a 3.53 ERA. As ever, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. All things considered, Worley has worked at or slightly above replacement level for the past several seasons.

Cincinnati is obviously looking primarily for solid veteran depth, while Worley is no doubt intrigued by the opportunity on a staff that has many options but few sure things. It’s conceivable that he could have a shot at breaking camp with the Reds either as a starter or a reliever.

Poll: Which Of These Players Is Most Likely To Be Traded? Sun, 07 Jan 2018 03:44:42 +0000 We’ve reached January, and the free agent market is still lagging in a big way. The top free agents available seemingly haven’t showed a willingness to lower their asking prices, and with spring training less than two months out, teams may feel a need to complete their offseason shopping lists sooner than later. In some cases, this may cause teams to make stronger pushes for some candidates on the trade market.

There have certainly been some large scale trades so far this offseason. High-end players such as Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Evan Longoria, Ian Kinsler and Stephen Piscotty have changed hands already, and there are still plenty of practical matches left between MLB teams. We’ve detailed many of these in the 2017-2018 installment of our “Looking For A Match” series; the players featured in those articles are listed below, with our noted potential fits listed in parentheses.

  • Billy Hamilton, Reds CF (Giants, Dodgers, Royals): Hamilton’s talents as a burner on the basepaths and an elite defender in center field are well-known throughout MLB circles, but in truth, that’s about where his usefulness ends. His .299 OBP was the 11th-lowest among qualified hitters in 2017; that number is about consistent with his career mark. The Giants seem to have shown a strong interest in Hamilton, but Reds owner Bob Castellini’s recently-reported hesitancy to part with the speedster could gum up trade negotiations. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A Billy Hamilton Trade]
  • Brad Hand, Padres LHRP (Astros, Dodgers, Cardinals, Twins, Braves): Though our evaluation of Hand’s trade market also included the Rays and Rockies, those teams seem like less likely suitors at this point in the offseason; the former decreased their likelihood of contention by shipping Longoria to San Francisco, while the latter has signed three expensive relief pitchers to pad their bullpen. Hand is one of the elite relief pitchers in all of baseball, and he’s certainly one of the best (if not the undisputed best) bullpen options on the trade market. Of course, the caveat is that it would also require a significant prospect haul to convince San Diego to move him. The lefty has two years of team control remaining, and MLBTR projects him to cost just $3.8MM in 2018. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A Brad Hand Trade]
  • Jose Abreu, White Sox 1B (Astros, Indians, Rangers, Red Sox, Rockies): Though the Cuba native has been a mainstay in the White Sox’ lineup since his MLB debut in 2014, his club is unlikely to contend for a pennant before he reaches free agency after the 2019 season. MLBTR’s arbitration projections have him pegged for a $17.9MM salary in 2018, but his expected offensive output makes him well worth that price tag. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A Jose Abreu Trade]
  • Avisail Garcia, White Sox OF (Blue Jays, Indians, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Giants, Rangers): Like Abreu, Garcia is a South Sider with two years of team control remaining. However, he comes with a lot more risk; Garcia had played below replacement level over the course of his career prior to a breakout this past season. Still, there are many teams who would benefit from adding a lefty-masher to their outfield corps, and his projected 2018 salary is a reasonable $6.7MM. [LINK: Looking For A Match In An Avisail Garcia Trade]
  • Raisel Iglesias, Reds RHRP (Nationals, Dodgers, Cardinals, Brewers, Twins, Astros): With three full seasons of team control remaining, Iglesias could prove a valuable long-term asset to either a rebuilding club or a current contender. He’s managed to strike out 10.43 batters per nine innings over the course of his career as a reliever while posting a sterling 2.29 ERA. The Twins have reportedly shown interest in Iglesias this winter, though that was nearly two months ago; there haven’t been any new developments in that story since then. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A Raisel Iglesias Trade]
  • J.T. Realmuto, Marlins C (Nationals, Rockies, Diamondbacks): Unlike the other players on this list, Realmuto has gone so far as to request a trade from his current team. While that alone certainly isn’t enough to facilitate a trade, some have taken the stance that Miami ought to trade their catcher (along with fellow Marlin Christian Yelich) at his peak value. Realmuto has accrued more than 7 WAR over the past two seasons alone, but the Marlins don’t feel compelled to trade him unless they’re overwhelmed by an offer. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A J.T. Realmuto Trade]
  • Manny Machado, Orioles 3B (Cardinals, Yankees, Angels, Rockies, Nationals): Rumors surrounding Baltimore’s prized infielder have cooled off a bit recently, but the Orioles could still be prompted to move him for the right offer. They’re reportedly seeking two talented starting pitchers who are controllable for the long term, however, which seems like a sky-high asking price for a player with just one year of team control remaining. Of course, the O’s probably wouldn’t restrict a return to just rotation options. Machado is projected to earn a $17.3MM salary in his final season before hitting the free agent market. [LINK: Trading Manny Machado]

We’ll open this subject up to reader opinions at this point. Which of the trade candidates we’ve profiled do you think is most likely to be traded before the 2018 season begins? (Link for app users)

Reds Owner Disinclined To Trade Billy Hamilton Sat, 06 Jan 2018 04:23:21 +0000
  • Though the Reds continue to engage in discussions regarding center fielder Billy Hamilton,’s Jerry Crasnick notes on Twitter that there’s one major potential roadblock. Club owner Bob Castellini is quite hesitant to part with Hamilton, it seems. While there’s no indication that the switch-hitting speed demon is completely off limits, the stance may make it harder to get a deal done.
  • ]]>
    Reds, Dylan Floro Agree To Minor League Deal Thu, 04 Jan 2018 03:49:49 +0000
  • Right-hander Dylan Floro has agreed to a minor league deal with the Reds, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Floro was twice designated for assignment by the Cubs in 2017 and claimed off waivers by the Dodgers following that second DFA. However, the Dodgers designated him for assignment themselves just a few weeks later upon acquiring Curtis Granderson. Floro became a minor league free agent at season’s end and will bring to Cincinnati a career 5.11 ERA with a 20-to-7 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 MLB innings. In 242 2/3 innings of work in Triple-A, Floro has a 4.38 ERA with 5.9 K/9 against 1.5 BB/9. A ground-ball specialist, Floro has regularly posted ground-ball percentages in the upper 50s and low 60s throughout his minor league tenure and has a career 52.8 percent mark in his brief MLB tenure.
  • ]]>
    Minor MLB Transactions: 1/2/18 Wed, 03 Jan 2018 05:02:17 +0000 We’ll track the day’s minor moves in this post:

    • The Reds have reached a minor league agreement with utilityman Phil Gosselin, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports (Twitter link). The 29-year-old Gosselin divided last season between the Pirates and Rangers organizations, hitting an ugly .146/.180/.188 over a small sample of big league PAs (50). While Gosselin was also ineffective at the Triple-A level (.260/.299/.326 in 292 PAs), he’s not far removed from a useful two-year showing in the majors. From 2015-16, Gosselin combined for 1.4 fWAR on the strength of a .280/.340/.411 line in 358 trips to the plate with the Braves and Diamondbacks.

    Earlier updates:

    • The Phillies have agreed to a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Steve Geltz, Cotillo tweets. Geltz worked exclusively with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in 2017 and posted a 2.67 ERA, 9.67 K/9 against 4.00 BB/9 and a 37.1 percent groundball rate over 27 innings. The 30-year-old previously saw major league action with the Angels (2012) and Rays (2014-16). Across 104 1/3 big league frames, Geltz owns a 4.23 ERA to accompany 8.54 K/9, 3.71 BB/9 and a 28.8 percent grounder mark.
    • Infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr. is joining the Red Sox on a minor league deal, per Cotillo (Twitter link). De Jesus, 30, has past experience with the Boston organization, having been a member of it in 2012 and ’14. More recently, he spent last season with the Brewers’ Triple-A club and batted a robust .345/.407/.488 in 466 trips to the plate. He hasn’t been nearly as successful across 545 major league PAs with the Dodgers, Red Sox and Reds, having slashed .242/.303/.327.
    • The Cardinals have added backstop Steven Baron on a minors pact, according to’s Jenifer Langosch (via Twitter). (As she also notes, and we covered previously, the club also added catcher Francisco Pena.) Baron, 27, was the 33rd overall pick in the 2009 draft, but he has never hit much at all in the minors and has only minimal MLB experience. Still, he’ll represent another upper-level depth option for the Cards, who’ll become his first organization other than the Mariners. Baron spent most of 2017 at Triple-A, where he slashed .256/.339/.329 in 187 plate appearances.
    Taking Inventory: Cincinnati Reds Tue, 02 Jan 2018 00:26:57 +0000 The Reds have already parted out most of the components of their most recently competitive roster. It seems the inclination now is to begin climbing the hill rather than continue to strip away veterans. That being said, this is a club that won just 68 games in 2017 and has shown no real indication of ramping up spending.

    In short, the Reds are in no position to decline to consider trades involving shorter-term veteran assets. At the same time, indications are that they have fairly hefty asking prices affixed to some of their most notable trade pieces.

    [Related: Cincinnati Reds depth chart and Reds payroll outlook]

    Two Years of Control

    Feb 18, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton (6) poses for a photo during Spring Training Media Day at the Cincinnati Reds Player Development Complex. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Billy Hamilton, CF (projected $5.0MM arbitration salary; arb-eligible thru 2019): The game’s preeminent burner, Hamilton has drawn a steady drumbeat of trade chatter all winter. Thus far, nothing has come together, but it still feels reasonably likely that another organization will make a significant enough offer to tempt the Reds. After all, though Hamilton has yet to show he can consistently reach base, his lofty baserunning and defensive value make him a highly useful player even if his career ceiling with the bat is still about twenty percent below league average. Dealing Hamilton would clear room in the outfield rotation for youngster Jesse Winker, who showed well in his 2017 debut.

    Scooter Gennett, 2B (projected $6.1MM arbitration salary; arb-eligible thru 2019): The Cinci front office made good on its surprising claim of Gennett before the 2017 campaign. He rewarded the faith with 497 plate appearances of .295/.342/.531 hitting and 27 home runs — far and away his best full-season output. That said, Gennett has never hit lefties much and is generally graded as a below-average defender at second, limiting his value. There has been little reported interest to this point, though perhaps it still wouldn’t surprise if he ends up on the move.

    Longer-Term Assets

    Joey Votto, 1B ($157MM thru 2023; includes buyout on 2024 club option): Sure, he’s 34 years of age, but Votto has been the second-best hitter in baseball over the past three years. That makes the remainder of his massive extension seem quite a bit less onerous than might have been feared. Odds are, though, we won’t get a chance to see how the rest of the league values Votto. All indications are that Votto is not interested in waiving his full no-trade protection and the Reds seem happy to keep him around.

    Raisel Iglesias, RP ($13.5MM thru 2020; may opt into arbitration; arb-eligible thru 2021); The Reds’ most obviously marketable player, Iglesias has blossomed into one of the game’s better young late-inning relievers. He’s capable of functioning as a traditional closer or multi-inning stopper. Though he’ll ultimately have a chance to boost his earnings by opting into arbitration, Iglesias remains a controllable bargain. While we analyzed his possible market earlier in the offseason, indications are that the Reds have advertised such a high and firm asking price that interested parties aren’t even coming onto the lot to kick the tires.

    Eugenio Suarez, INF (projected $4.4MM arbitration salary; arb-eligible thru 2020): With three years of control remaining, the Reds don’t need to deal Suarez. But they could conceivably find it an opportune time to move the 26-year-old, who is fresh off of an excellent .260/.367/.461 campaign, with top prospect Nick Senzel nearing MLB readiness. That said, Suarez is capable of playing elsewhere in the infield, and it seems likelier that the Reds will explore a long-term contract than try to work out a deal for a player who could well be a key part of the organization’s next contender.

    Tucker Barnhart, C ($16MM through 2021; includes buyout on 2022 club option): A quality defender who has increasingly shown he can hit at a useful rate, Barnhart only signed his contract in September. It’d rank as quite a surprise were he to be moved at this point.

    Adam Duvall, OF (pre-arb eligible): Though he has swatted over thirty home runs in each of the past two seasons, Duvall has been a roughly league-average hitter due to his inability to get on base (career .296 OBP). That said, highly-rated glovework in the gives Duvall the profile of a solid average regular in the corner. There’d be interest if the Reds make him available, but it still seems likely he’ll be kept in the fold.

    Scott Schebler, OF (pre-arb eligible): You can basically take exactly what was written about Duvall and apply it to Schebler. While the latter did not grade as a top-end right fielder in 2017, he did show he can palatably patrol center. With just 1.132 years of service to this point, though, Schebler is likely to remain in Cincinnati for the time being.

    Anthony DeSclafani, SP (projected $1.1MM arbitration salary; arb-eligible thru 2020): Elbow troubles robbed all of 2017 from DeSclafani. He remains an exciting pitcher when healthy, and the Reds are all but certain to hold onto his upside this winter.

    Brandon Finnegan, SP (pre-arb eligible): Similarly, Finnegan is coming off of a season in which entered with big expectations but managed only four outings. Cinci has little choice but to hope for better health. It’s worth noting, too, that other controllable starters — most notably, eye-opening 2017 debutante Luis Castillo — are likely to be kept in the stable.

    Michael Lorenzen, RP  (projected $1.4MM arbitration salary; arb-eligible thru 2021): Perhaps the Reds would at least listen to offers on Lorenzen, who did not produce results to match his big-time stuff in 2017. He’d surely draw interest after showing a personal-high 10.4% swinging-strike rate and strong 54.6% groundball rate in heavy usage (83 innings over seventy appearances). But for the Reds, the hope remains that he’ll join Iglesias to form a dominant late-inning duo. It’s even less likely that the club will end up dealing other relief assets, though perhaps there could be some interest in Wandy Peralta, who turned in a solid (if hardly dominant) rookie season.

    Jose Peraza, INF (pre-arb eligible): Unless the Reds decide to give up on Peraza, he’ll remain on hand to fill out the infield. But the team is no doubt concerned with what it saw over his 518 plate appearances in 2017, as Peraza managed 23 stolen bases but otherwise produced a marginal .259/.297/.324 batting line.

    Salary Dump Candidates

    Homer Bailey, SP ($49MM through 2019; includes buyout of 2020 mutual option): If you’re looking for positives, you’d note that Bailey showed velocity in the range of his career peak (94 mph or so) over 91 frames in 2017 — his most extensive action since 2014. But he managed only a 6.43 ERA in that span, with just 6.6 K/9 against 4.2 BB/9. Given that the Reds have a need for innings, and no doubt still have some hope that Bailey will find his way, it seems likeliest this contract will remain on the books for the time being.

    Devin Mesoraco, C ($13.125MM in 2018): Just as he was finally showing some signs of health and productivity with a .260/.345/.600 output last June, Mesoraco hit the DL with a shoulder strain. He scarcely hit at all upon returning and ended up suffering a season-ending foot fracture in mid-August. In the aggregate, the Reds have received virtually nothing for the $28MM they committed to Mesoraco via extension: he has provided just 271 plate appearances of 61 OPS+ hitting over the past three seasons. With nearly half of that outlay still left to be paid in the final year of the deal, it’s hard to see Mesoraco as anything but a potential salary dump candidate at this stage. In all likelihood, the Reds will carry him into the season and see what they can get — with the idea of a mid-season trade still carrying at least some potential for saving a bit of cash.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Reds Have Reportedly Made Offer To Ji-Man Choi Mon, 01 Jan 2018 15:31:02 +0000
  • First baseman Ji-Man Choi’s agency in Korea recently spoke to the media about their client’s current foray into free agency and revealed that he’s received offers (presumably of the minor league variety) from the Yankees, Angels, Rays, A’s, Brewers, Marlins, Cubs, Reds, Orioles, Twins, Braves, Blue Jays and White Sox (English link via Jee-ho Yoo of South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency). The 26-year-old Choi slugged a pair of homers in 18 plate appearances with the Yankees last year and posted a strong year with their Triple-A affiliate, slashing .288/.373/.538 in 87 games. In parts of five Triple-A campaigns, Choi has posted a robust .298/.390/.479 batting line.
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    GM Williams Discusses Hughes Signing Fri, 29 Dec 2017 04:39:44 +0000
  • While the Reds were looking for one-year deals for relievers, they were comfortable enough with Jared Hughes’ track record to sign the righty to a two-year deal, general manager Dick Williams tells Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer.  Williams feels Hughes adds some needed veteran experience to a Reds bullpen that struggled badly in 2017, and the GM didn’t close the door on his team acquiring another veteran reliever before the winter is over.
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    Transaction Retrospective: The First Aroldis Chapman Swap Thu, 28 Dec 2017 05:26:20 +0000 Tomorrow is the two-year anniversary of the trade that sent Aroldis Chapman from the Reds to the Yankees. While Chapman is currently ensconced as New York’s closer, just as he was in the wake of the swap, the intervening period has seen quite a few twists and turns.

    Aroldis Chapman

    Six years before the trade, the Reds had landed Chapman as a free agent, staking a hefty $30.25MM bet on the power pitcher from Cuba. He proved the team wise, providing 319 innings of 2.17 ERA pitching and racking up 146 saves.

    Entering the 2015-16 offseason, though, it seemed clear that it was time for both sides to move on. Chapman had just one year of control remaining, after all, and the Reds were coming off of a 64-win season. While the team struggled, Chapman was his typically dominant self, and seemed positioned to draw a big return.

    In early December, it seemed Chapman was destined to join Kenley Jansen to form a terrifying one-two punch in Los Angeles. Precise details of the proposed Dodgers swap were never clear, though reportedly the Reds would not have added then-top L.A. prospects Julio UriasCorey Seager, or Jose De Leon.

    Just when it seemed a deal was imminent, though, a stunning off-field development intervened, as reports emerged that Chapman had been arrested earlier in the offseason for a troubling domestic incident. With Chapman’s reputation tarnished and a possible suspension looming, the Dodgers backed away and the market dried up.

    Thus it was that the Yankees stepped into the void and placed a somewhat controversial bet on the game’s most intimidating reliever. Despite already carrying a fantastic late-inning duo of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, the Yanks saw an opportunity to create a three-headed bullpen monster. They shipped four prospects — third baseman Eric Jagielo, second baseman Tony Renda, and right-handers Rookie Davis and Caleb Cotham — to Cincinnati to acquire Chapman.

    The risk, really, was never on the field or even in the course of the investigation: Chapman was one of the surest relievers in baseball and had he received a sufficiently lengthy suspension, he’d have been eligible for another season of arbitration. Rather, the Yanks were gambling that Chapman would be valuable enough to warrant absorbing a significant public relations hit.

    While he was never arrested or charged with a crime, Chapman was rightly criticized and ultimately suspended for what commissioner Rob Manfred determined to be violent actions directed toward his girlfriend. He eventually acknowledged he “should have exercised better judgment” but insisted he “did not in any way harm [his] girlfriend that evening.”

    At the same time, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Yankees benefited greatly from taking him on. After returning from a thirty-game ban, Chapman picked up right where he left off, throwing 31 1/3 innings of 2.01 ERA pitching leading into the trade deadline. With the Yanks in a less-than-promising postseason position, the organization decided to market Chapman in the summer trade market, finding interest far more robust than had existed just months earlier.

    Thus it was that the Yankees ended up with a foursome of players immensely more valuable than that which it had shipped to Cincinnati. New York sold the rights to rent Chapman for the remainder of 2016 to the Cubs, who obviously saw him as the final piece needed on a World Series-caliber roster.

    Infielder Gleyber Torres was the undeniable headliner; he’s now seen as one of the game’s very best prospects. Though Rashad Crawford has yet to show much since coming to New York, outfielder Billy McKinney is now fresh off of a promising season in which he restored some of his former prospect luster. And the Yanks even came away with right-hander Adam Warren, who has provided 87 2/3 productive relief innings since the swap and is still under team control via arbitration for one more season.

    Then, of course, there’s the fact that Chapman ended up returning to the Bronx after his brief stint with the Cubs. In the first year of his record-setting $86MM contract, the now-29-year-old Chapman wasn’t quite as devastating as usual — his 3.22 ERA was the second-highest mark of his career, and he has never before ended a season with a lower strikeout rate than his 12.3 K/9 — but he still averaged a triple-digit heater. While there are some signs of concern, including a plummeting swinging-strike rate, Chapman generally figures to remain one of baseball’s better closers for some time.

    As for the Reds? Only Davis and Jagielo remain in the organization. As for the former, there’s certainly hope he’ll be a MLB contributor. Davis did make it up to the majors in 2017, though he struggled quite a bit and was less than dominant at the highest level of the minors. Jagielo, 25, struggled in his first attempt at Triple-A in 2017 and does not rate among the organization’s top thirty prospects, per

    It remains a major disappointment for the Reds that they were unable to fully capitalize on Chapman. While some argued that the organization was foolish not to have carried him into the 2016 season rather than accepting a discounted return, that action would have come with its own significant risks. If there’s a silver lining, perhaps it’s that the Reds have since come to realize another successful investment in a high-powered Cuban reliever. Raisel Iglesias has now established himself as one of the game’s best young closers. For the time being, at least, it seems he’s staying put as the anchor of the Cincinnati bullpen.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Quick Hits: Astros, Machado, Hamilton Wed, 27 Dec 2017 22:28:44 +0000 In a dramatic and suspenseful article, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic chronicles the recent harrowing life-or-death race to get Astros first base coach Rich Dauer to Houston Methodist Hospital. On the day of the Astros’ championship parade, Dauer was present at the official ceremony to honor the team. He began to stagger as if drunk, and stepped to the back of the stage. From there, a panicked attempt to get Dauer to the hospital amidst a crowd of millions of people unfolded behind the scenes. The piece is incredibly well-written, and thankfully has a happy ending. It’s definitely worth a full read.

    More from around MLB as we approach the end of December…

    • Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun wonders if this offseason’s drama surrounding Orioles star Manny Machado could have been avoided. Meoli takes a look at the chances the Orioles had to explore trades or a contract extension with their prized third baseman, but he ultimately comes to the conclusion that there was never a reason to trade him until now. It also seems as though by the time Machado was a safe fixture in the O’s lineup, his value was sky-high, and he was close enough to free agency that an extension didn’t make sense for him (or his agent). While it remains to be seen whether Baltimore will actually end up dealing Machado, Meoli’s piece sheds some light on a tough set of circumstances for the Orioles.
    • The Giants and Reds have remained active in talks about a trade that would send Billy Hamilton to San Francisco, according to Jon Morosi of The Reds have reportedly shown interest in Heliot Ramos, who is largely considered to be the Giants’ best prospect (he credits The Athletic with first report of this news). Hamilton, of course, is regarded as one of the best defenders in the game, and also creates a lot of runs with his speed alone. His career .298 on-base percentage is widely regarded as his achilles heel, but he could still provide plenty of value as an elite center fielder in AT&T Park’s spacious outfield. A couple months back, I wrote about the trade market for Hamilton, noting that the Giants were the best match for his services.
    Reds To Sign Daniel Wright Wed, 27 Dec 2017 04:28:20 +0000 The Reds have agreed to a minor-league deal with righty Daniel Wright, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). It seems reasonable to anticipate that he’ll receive an MLB camp invite, though that’s not yet clear.

    Wright, 26, has worked to a 5.61 ERA with 4.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 over 59 1/3 MLB innings in the prior two seasons. All of those outings came with the Angels, who claimed Wright from Cincinnati — the organization that originally drafted him — in early September of 2016.

    All in all, it was a tough 2017 campaign for Wright, who sits at only about 90 mph with his fastball but works in three offspeed offerings (a change, slider, and curve) with regularity. He logged 92 2/3 innings at Triple-A, almost entirely as a starter, but was torched for a 6.99 ERA and managed only 5.9 K/9 with 3.4 BB/9.

    Reds Sign Jared Hughes Tue, 26 Dec 2017 19:41:06 +0000 The Reds announced that they’ve signed right-handed reliever Jared Hughes to a two-year contract with a club option for the 2020 season as well. Hughes, who was non-tendered by the division-rival Brewers earlier this month, is a client of SSG Baseball.

    Jared Hughes | David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

    SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports that it’s a two-year, $4.5MM contract for Hughes, who will earn $2.125MM in both 2018 and 2019 (Twitter links). The club option is valued at $3MM and comes with a $250K buyout, per Cotillo, who also notes that Hughes can earn up to $750K worth of incentives based on appearances in each year of the contract (including the option year, if exercised). Hughes would take home $100K for reaching 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 games pitched, and he’ll earn $75K for reaching 55 and 60 appearances as well. For a reliever that has averaged 68 appearances per year over the past four seasons, those incentive packages are highly attainable.

    Hughes, 32, has long posted solid run-prevention numbers in the NL Central, combining for 250 1/3 innings of 2.55 ERA ball across four seasons between the Pirates and Brewers from 2014-17. He’s also consistently shown a knack for inducing ground-balls (career 61.2 percent), but a lack of strikeouts has seemingly limited Hughes’ earning potential in recent years.

    Hughes has averaged just 5.5 K/9 across the past four seasons and, in addition to being non-tendered by the Brewers, was released by the Pirates in Spring Training 2016. However, a fastball that averaged nearly 94 mph this past season and a healthy swinging-strike rate of 11.6 percent suggest that perhaps he can maintain the improved 7.2 K/9 clip he posted in ’17. Then again, the 2017 season also saw Hughes allow a career-worst 36.7 percent hard-contact rate, which contributed to a respectable but unspectacular .318 wOBA from opposing hitters (though that number was directly in line with expectations based on his batted-ball profile, per Statcast). Certainly, based on today’s contract, the Reds seem to place a higher value on Hughes’ skill set than their two division rivals that have cut Hughes loose over the past two years.

    Raisel Iglesias is entrenched in the closer’s role in Cincinnati, but Hughes will join a setup corps that also included right-hander Michael Lorenzen and left-hander Wandy Peralta. Several of Cincinnati’s late-inning spots remain up for grabs, but Hughes seems likely to lock down one of those spots for the foreseeable future.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Reds, Giants Still Talking About Billy Hamilton Mon, 25 Dec 2017 04:18:30 +0000
  • The Giants are still in the market for an outfielder and bullpen help, and some in the organization think both needs could be met in one trade, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic writes.  The reliever trade market in particular is more appealing to some in the office than signing a bullpen arm.  On the outfield front, the Giants are still talking with the Reds about Billy Hamilton, though Cincinnati is still making “high demands” for the speedy center fielder.  As Pavlovic notes, the Giants could be even less likely to move young talent after swapping Christian Arroyo and two young pitching prospects to the Rays as part of the Evan Longoria trade.
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    Pitching Notes: Cardinals, Chavez, Stammen, Rodney Sat, 16 Dec 2017 16:47:48 +0000 John Mozeliak (President of Baseball Operations for the Cardinals) expressed that he’s content with his club’s rotation, via Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, and the recently-signed Miles Mikolas are likely to occupy the first four spots in the rotation. Mozeliak says that a lot depends on how Adam Wainwright looks; however, John Gant and Tyler Lyons could also be in the mix. Mozeliak feels as though the Cards are “fine,” which would seem to make it less likely that St. Louis will be in the mix for big names such as Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta.

    More pitching notes from around the league…

    • Free agent Jesse Chavez has offers from five different MLB clubs to fill a starter/long reliever role, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, adding that the right-hander is expected to make a decision this weekend. Chavez pitched 138 innings for the Angels in 2017, and although his 5.35 ERA seems somewhat uninspiring, his 4.43 xFIP suggests he might have pitched a bit better than the surface results indicate. He also walked fewer than three batters per nine innings for the third season in a row. In addition to the Angels, Chavez has pitched for the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Athletics, Royals and Pirates over the course of his ten-year big league career.
    • The Reds have recently spoken with right-hander Craig StammenMark Sheldon of reports. Sheldon notes that Stammen is a product of the University of Dayton, which is within an hour of Cincinnati. The 33-year-old reliever tossed 80 1/3 innings across 60 appearances for the Friars in 2017, posting a 3.14 ERA. Stammen began his big league career as a starter for the Nationals, but has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen since 2011.
    • Before choosing to sign with the Twins, Fernando Rodney had offers from three other big league clubs. The Rangers, Mets and Tigers all tried to sign the right-hander, according to a tweet from Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Rodney will reportedly have a chance to hold down the closer role in Minnesota this season; he can earn up to $6MM if he meets incentives in his contract, which includes a club option for the 2019 season.
    Reds Wanted Heliot Ramos In Billy Hamilton Talks Thu, 14 Dec 2017 22:42:23 +0000
  • Talks between the Giants and Reds about Billy Hamilton failed to materialize since the Giants balked at moving Heliot Ramos, The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly reports.  Ramos has been a hot commodity this winter, as reportedly just about every team the Giants have engaged with in trade talks has asked about the 2017 first-rounder.  While the Reds would have to drop their asking price, Baggarly doesn’t think San Francisco has given up on pursuing Hamilton, as an improved outfield defense would go a long way towards helping the Giants again become competitive.
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    Royals Acquire Brad Keller, Burch Smith In Trades With Reds, Mets Thu, 14 Dec 2017 14:40:51 +0000 The Royals announced that they’ve acquired right-handers Brad Keller and Burch Smith in trades with the Reds and Mets following today’s Rule 5 Draft. Kansas City will send a player to be named later or cash to both Cincinnati and New York in each trade. Keller was selected with the No. 5 pick out of the D-backs organization, while Smith was selected out of the Rays’ system.

    Keller spent the entire 22 season in Double-A despite pitching most of the season at the age of 21. He made 26 starts and totaled 130 2/3 frames with a 4.68 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 49.6 percent ground-ball rate. He had been considered the No. 12 prospect in the D-backs’ organization by Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of but was unprotected on at last month’s deadline to set 40-man rosters.

    The Rule 5 selection could pave the way back to the Majors for Smith for the first time since 2013. Smith tossed 36 1/3 innings for the Padres as a 23-year-old that year, and though he logged an ugly 6.44 ERA, he also punched out 46 batters in that time.

    Now 27 years of age, Smith has seen two seasons wiped out by Tommy John surgery and other arm troubles. But, he was healthy in 56 1/3 minor league innings as he worked his way back across three minor league levels this year — his first action on a mound since 2014. Smith posted a 2.40 ERA with 8.9 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 before impressing with 29 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

    Both pitchers will retain their Rule 5 status with the Royals, meaning neither can be optioned to the minors without first being exposed to waivers and then offered back to their original organizations for $50K. If either lasts the entire season on the Royals’ big league roster (with at least 90 days on the active roster and not on the DL), he’ll become their property without any restrictions in 2019.

    Reds Interested In Yovani Gallardo Thu, 14 Dec 2017 05:49:15 +0000
  • Still looking for rotation pieces, the Reds could have some interest in veteran free agent Yovani Gallardo, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. The soon-to-be 32-year-old Gallardo is coming off a miserable two-season stretch in which he posted a 5.57 ERA and log 6.48 K/9 against 4.38 BB/9 across 248 2/3 innings with Baltimore and Seattle.
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    Trade Chatter: Nats, Rays, Fulmer, Reds, Jays, Braves, Giants, Yelich, Phils Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:44:39 +0000 Looking to improve an already enviable rotation, the Nationals have Rays right-handers Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi on their radar, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports (via Twitter). Either would cost far less in terms of salary than free agent Jake Arrieta will, and Heyman notes that the Nats are unsure if they’d be able to afford Arrieta. Heyman also points to Diamondbacks righty Zack Greinke as a possibility for the Nats; however, he’s not exactly cheap, with $138.5MM coming his way through 2021.

    More on the trade front:

    • The Tigers “will only entertain lopsided offers” for righty Michael Fulmer, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). A trade involving the highly coveted 24-year-old doesn’t look likely, then.
    • The Blue Jays are interested in Reds outfielders Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall, per reports from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter) and Jays Journal. The Braves also have interest in the 29-year-old Duvall, tweets Heyman. Duvall, a 30-home run hitter in each of the previous two seasons, is controllable for the next four years. He won’t be arbitration eligible until next winter.
    • The Giants’ own interest in Hamilton continues, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the chatter with the Reds has “faded significantly” of late. Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer adds on Twitter that the Giants are the most serious suitors for Hamilton, but they’re “at a bit of a standoff” with the Reds. San Francisco still has interest in free agent Jay Bruce, per Rosenthal, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that Bruce is the top name on San Francisco’s “wish list.” Still, the club has not made him an offer to this point.
    • It’s up in the air whether the Marlins will trade center fielder Christian Yelich. Either way, the Phillies will continue to monitor his availability, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia relays. Meanwhile, they’ve “been aggressive” in shopping shortstop Freddy Galvis, according to Salisbury, who adds (via Twitter) that the Angels “really liked” second baseman Cesar Hernandez before they acquired Ian Kinsler. The Halos didn’t want to meet the Phillies’ asking price for Hernandez, however.
    • The Red Sox asked about Marcell Ozuna before the Cardinals acquired him, but they did not have the sort of pitching assets the Marlins were for, Dombrowski told reporters including the Globe’s Peter Abraham (Twitter link.) The Indians also inquired about Ozuna, Paul Hoynes of writes.
    • In addition to Chase Headley, the Padres are dangling infielder Yangervis Solarte in chatter with rival organizations, Heyman reports on Twitter. Solarte, 30, is controllable for the next three years at affordable costs (a guaranteed $4MM in 2018 and then club options totaling $13.5MM for 2019-20).
    • The Blue Jays were another team with interest in Kinsler before Wednesday’s trade, Nicholson-Smith tweets. Toronto was on Kinsler’s 10-team no-trade list, so it’s unclear how open he’d have been to going there.
    Pitching Market Chatter: Phils, Yanks, Greinke, Cole, Archer, Duffy, CC, Jays Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:51:51 +0000 With a pair of relief signings being wrapped up, the Phillies seem to feel good about that aspect of their roster. Per’s Todd Zolecki, via Twitter, the team will turn its gaze to improving the rotation. Both they and the Yankees checked in with the Diamondbacks regarding right-hander Zack Greinke, Robert Murray of FanRag writes. Greinke ending up with either club is unlikely, however, sources informed Murray. With the Rangers also having shown interest in Greinke, we now know at least three teams have inquired about the expensive 34-year-old this offseason.

    Greinke is the latest hurler to land on the radar of the Yankees, who have also eyed Pirates righty Gerrit Cole. Consequently, the Bucs “are gathering names of young, controllable” Yankees they could acquire in a Cole deal, though there’s “nothing close,” Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (on Twitter). Notably, Brink adds that the Yankees are also “looking at” Rays righty Chris Archer. The 29-year-old has drawn significant interest this winter, but it’s unclear whether the Rays will move him.

    Plenty more pitching rumors…

    • The Royals are giving serious consideration to dealing southpaw Danny Duffy, who’s “extremely popular” on the trade market, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. Duffy suggested on Twitter that he doesn’t want to go anywhere, for what it’s worth. “Bury me a Royal,” he declared.
    • As the Blue Jays look for pitching reinforcements, they are giving real consideration to veteran CC Sabathia, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of writes. Though manager John Gibbons suggested his own priority is to add bats, he also said he’d welcome the addition of the veteran Sabathia — who has a lengthy history with the Jays’ current front office leadership stemming from their time in Cleveland together.
    • Teams have given up on trying to acquire Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, Heyman reports on Twitter. The Reds understandably want an enormous haul back for the 27-year-old star, who’s under affordable control for the foreseeable future.
    • The Twins and Rays have chatted about veteran righty Jake Odorizzi, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter), who adds that Tampa Bay was not interested in Minnesota’s initial offer.
    • Although they’re at the beginning of a full, cost-cutting rebuild, the Marlins aren’t feeling any urgency to deal righty Dan Straily, per Joe Frisaro of (Twitter link). Miami’s de facto ace will play his first of three arbitration-eligible seasons in 2018. He’s projected to earn a $4.6MM salary, which even the Marlins can afford.
    • The Mets are not likely to sign another free agent reliever, at least in the near term, according to GM Sandy Alderson and as’s Anthony DiComo tweets. Instead, after landing Anthony Swarzak, the organization expects to begin looking to fill its other needs.
    • Brewers GM David Stearns discussed his organization’s situation with reporters including’s Adam McCalvy (Twitter links). He said the team was willing to go to two years to get Swarzak, but wasn’t willing to match the dollar amount he ultimately took. The club still has open payroll capacity, which Stearns says he’ll put to good use. “We have spending power this offseason,” he said. “I’m confident we are going to find places to use that effectively.”
    • Before the Astros agreed to a deal with Joe Smith on Wednesday, Brian McTaggart of hinted on Twitter that the team could have interest in free agent righty Hector Rondon. Whether that still stands remains to be seen, but the Astros are already chock-full of righty relievers as it is.
    NL Central Notes: Reds, Cardinals, Pirates Wed, 13 Dec 2017 09:30:05 +0000 Though the Reds didn’t ultimately make Shohei Ohtani’s list of seven finalists for his services, the team put together a detailed presentation in hopes of luring the two-way star to Cincinnati. Mark Sheldon of wrote an insightful article detailing the Reds’ pursuit of Ohtani; the team shared the contents of its presentation with and the Cincinnati Enquirer. Despite the fact that they could only offer him a maximum $300K signing bonus, GM Dick Williams and the entire Reds organization believed they could come up with a pitch attractive enough to sway Ohtani in their direction. “I’d like us to think that we might have a chance. I’ve followed this kid,” Williams said at the the beginning of the process. “I think he’s wired differently. He’s clearly shown he thinks out of the box.” The baseball operations, business, creative services, and marketing departments all worked together to tailor a presentation that included a 120-page book and 12-minute video. One of Cincinnati’s selling points was having Ohtani pitch in a six-man rotation (something he was used to doing in Japan), while playing the outfield and getting at-bats as a pinch-hitter. The Reds pulled out all the stops, including the addition of testimonials from Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and former MVP Joey Votto. Though they ultimately came up short, the release of the presentation’s contents to the media is generous to say the least, and provides a rare and fascinating insight into the player recruiting process.

    More items from the National League’s Central Division…

    • Although he cautions that the club isn’t necessarily on the cusp of a big announcement, Cardinals GM Michael Girsch says that the club has “some sense of optimism” regarding their pursuit of a big bat (via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). The Redbirds seem to have a desired hitter in mind, and reportedly feel good about their chances of acquiring him. “We’re not at the goal line, but we’ve made progress,” says Girsch. While Girsch himself didn’t mention any specific names, Goold notes in the article that the Cardinals have been linked to Miami outfielder Marcell Ozuna, while the Marlins have shown interest in St. Louis pitchers Jack Flaherty and Sandy Alcantara.
    • A hitter isn’t the only thing the Cardinals are pursuing. Recently, they’ve been linked to Rays closer Alex Colome as a potential means to fill a clear need at the back end of their bullpen. Somewhat intriguingly, Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Colome began following four Cardinals-related accounts on his Instagram on Tuesday night (hat tip to NBC Sports’ Drew Silva). It could be nothing at all; social media activity certainly doesn’t have a strong correlation with transactional news. But while there are no reports of a deal in place, the flurry of follows has piqued curiosity and stirred the rumor mill. At the very least, it gives us another reason to closely monitor an interesting hypothetical.
    • Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates are exploring the idea of adding a fourth outfielder through trade or free agency, in order to allow Jordan Luplow to begin the season at the Triple-A level. GM Neal Huntington notes that Luplow “didn’t have a ton of at-bats down there a year ago.” Indeed, Luplow only has 87 career plate appearances at Triple-A, and his .205/.276/.385 major league slash line indicates that his bat could benefit from more development at the minors’ highest level. The 24-year-old Luplow was drafted out of California State University Fresno with the Pittsburgh’s third-round pick; the right-handed outfielder is 24 years old, according to Fangraphs.
    Reds, Giants Don't Appear Close On Billy Hamilton Trade Wed, 13 Dec 2017 00:13:56 +0000
  • The Giants made a “semi” strong trade offer to the Reds for Billy Hamilton, a source tells’s Mark Sheldon, though it doesn’t look like anything is close to being completed.
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    Latest On Billy Hamilton Tue, 12 Dec 2017 20:28:45 +0000 There’s significant enough interest in Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton that it’s possible a deal could come together during the Winter Meetings, according to a report from Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. In particular, the Giants are holding “serious discussions” with Cincinnati.

    The Giants have long been connected to Hamilton, with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeting earlier today they are the strongest contender while noting the Reds are interested in clearing room for Jesse Winker in the outfield. But Buchanan stresses they are not the only team still involved in talks. Hamilton is said to be the Reds player generating the most trade interest, with numerous other teams — including the Rangers — also still showing real interest.

    Hamilton, of course, is a burner on the bases and top-quality up-the-middle defender. He also has not yet established himself at the plate at the game’s highest level, though. MLBTR recently broke down Hamilton’s trade candidacy in full at this link.

    Reds Notes: Suarez, Relievers, Williams Tue, 12 Dec 2017 08:03:51 +0000
  • Eugenio Suarez would want an extension of at least six years and worth more than $45MM in guaranteed money, a source tells Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer.  Suarez is just entering his first of three arbitration-eligible seasons (MLBTR projects him for a $4.4MM salary in 2018), so given the timing and his strong 2017 season, he stands out as a potential long-term piece for the Reds.  A six-year deal wouldn’t necessarily be an issue for the club, Buchanan writes, though the source feels the Reds’ stance in contract talks will focus on Suarez gaining financial security for his family now rather than risk an injury or drop in performance.  There’s also the possibility that Cincy could look to trade Suarez if an extension can’t be worked out, though Buchanan doubts a trade would happen this winter.
  • The Reds are currently more focused on adding relievers than starters, president of baseball operations Dick Williams told’s Mark Sheldon and other reporters.  “I do think we’ll find some good pitching and spend some money just to supplement the pitching a little bit,” Williams said.  “Ideally, we’d maintain some flexibility there as to how guys are used. We think we have more starting pitching, guys that have the ability to stick as starters.”
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    Latest On Athletics’ Pursuit Of Outfielders Tue, 12 Dec 2017 01:23:11 +0000 8:15pm: More on the A’s outfield from Slusser, who reports that they’re also interested in one of Piscotty’s teammates, Grichuk, as well as the Reds’ Adam Duvall and the Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. As 30-home run hitters in 2017, Duvall and Souza would provide right-handed punch to the A’s lineup if acquired. They’re also controllable for the next few seasons – Duvall’s under wraps through 2021, including one pre-arbitration year, while Souza’s set to play his first of three arb-eligible campaigns in 2018. He’s projected to earn a very affordable $3.6MM. Grichuk’s another powerful righty entering his first of three arb years, though he didn’t fare as well as Duvall or Souza in 2017.

    Meanwhile, the A’s seem uninterested in moving one of their top offensive players, left fielder/designated hitter Khris Davis, per Slusser. They’ve spurned the Red Sox and other teams that have inquired about Davis this winter.

    1:04am: The Athletics continue to have interest in the Cardinals’ Stephen Piscotty, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle recently reported and’s Jane Lee discusses in a video link. Oakland has been on the hunt this winter for right-handed hitting outfield help.

    A previous connection between Piscotty and the A’s surfaced in the aftermath of the trade deadline, as the Cardinals reportedly floated an offer of Piscotty and either Luke Weaver or Jack Flaherty to Oakland in exchange for Sonny Gray.  Those talks never really got off the ground, however, and the A’s subsequently dealt Gray to the Yankees.

    As Lee mentions in the video, “the A’s have interest in a ton of outfielders right now,” with the team particularly focused on right-handed bats who are controllable, so the A’s aren’t only looking at veteran options.  The Athletics are clearly willing to shop near the top of the trade market, however, as such names as Avisail Garcia of the White Sox and Marlins outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich (a left-handed hitter) have already been reported as landing on Oakland’s radar in talks.

    Piscotty wouldn’t cost as much in a deal as those aforementioned names, given how he struggled in 2017.  After signing a six-year, $33.5MM extension with the Cardinals in April, Piscotty went from building block to potentially expendable piece by hitting just .235/.342/.367 with nine homers over  401 plate appearances.  Groin and hamstring injuries didn’t help his cause, and Piscotty was even demoted to Triple-A in August for a brief spell.

    Still, Piscotty posted strong numbers in his first two big league seasons, he doesn’t turn 27 until January, and the Cards are less than a year removed from locking him up on what could still be a team-friendly extension.  Under normal circumstances, St. Louis wouldn’t be looking to deal a player like Piscotty (especially when his trade value has been lowered), though the club must create room within a crowded outfield picture.  Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham locked into everyday outfield spots next year, leaving just one corner spot for Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, and prospects Magneuris Sierra, Tyler O’Neill, and Harrison Bader.  The Cards may also add another everyday outfielder — they’ve also been linked to Ozuna and Yelich in trade speculation, and J.D. Martinez is a possibility for a Cardinals lineup looking for a big bat after missing out on Giancarlo Stanton.

    This surplus makes St. Louis a logical trade partner for an Oakland team that is short on established outfielders.  Boog Powell and top prospect Dustin Fowler are the top candidates for center field, while Matt Joyce, Jake Smolinski, Chad Pinder and Mark Canha will be in the mix for playing time in the corners.  Piscotty would step into one of those corner spots for everyday duty right away, and the $30.5MM owed to him over the next five years (counting a $1MM buyout of his $15MM club option for 2023) is a palatable price tag even for a smaller-market team like the A’s.

    Reds Reportedly "Open To Offers" For Adam Duvall Sun, 10 Dec 2017 16:35:24 +0000
  • Along with the previously reported Raisel Iglesias, the Reds are “open to offers” for left fielder Adam Duvall, Cafardo relays. Duvall, 29, would provide cheap power to a team in need of it – he’s not eligible for arbitration until next winter and is fresh off his second 30-home run season in a row (though he hit an underwhelming .249/.301/.480 in 2017).

  • ]]>
    Reds Receiving Interest In Billy Hamilton Sat, 09 Dec 2017 06:35:16 +0000
  • Billy Hamilton is generating the most interest of any potential Reds trade pieces, Rosenthal also reports. Hamilton, obviously, is a limited offensive player due to a lack of power and on-base skills, but his baserunning and defensive skills are among the game’s elite. If the Reds do ultimately find an offer to their liking for Hamilton — he’s arb-eligible for two more years and projected to earn $5MM next season by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz — Rosenthal writes that they’d likely sign a short-term stopgap in center field rather than play a corner option out of position.
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    Reds, Kyle Crockett Agree To Minor League Deal Mon, 04 Dec 2017 21:48:45 +0000 The Reds have struck an agreement with left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett, bringing him back to the organization on a minor league deal just days after non-tendering him, Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Crockett will be invited to Major League Spring Training.

    Cincinnati claimed Crockett off waivers from the Indians a week ago today but apparently didn’t wish to carry him on the 40-man roster throughout the offseason. The former fourth-round pick will now be in camp and battle it out for a roster spot with a Reds team that looks to have several bullpen roles up for grab this spring.

    The 25-year-old Crockett turned in a promising 1.80 ERA with 8.4 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 30 innings in his first big league season back in 2014, but he’s struggled to a 4.84 ERA with 8.7 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 in 35 1/3 big league innings since then. To his credit, Crockett has only surrendered three homers in 65 1/3 MLB innings and has held lefties to a .614 OPS in 167 plate appearances — including a .196/.266/.258 slash in 110 PAs between Triple-A and the Majors this year. Righties have knocked him around at a .280/.373/.452 clip in the big leagues, however.

    The Reds’ top left-handed bullpen option this season will be Wandy Peralta, but the team doesn’t have any locks beyond him after Tony Cingrani was traded to the Dodgers in July. Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed and Amir Garrett are the only other lefties even on the 40-man roster at all, though each is likely still viewed as a starter by the organization.

    NL Central Notes: Pirates Staff, Rivero, Iglesias Sat, 02 Dec 2017 21:52:12 +0000 The Pirates have made a host of changes to their scouting and front office staff, Bill Brink of the Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports. Steve Williams, a major league scout since 1988, will be their new director of pro scouting. Junior Vizcaino, formerly of the Red Sox, will replace the recently-discharged Rene Gayo as Pittsburgh’s director of Latin America scouting. Assistant GM Greg Smith will now work under the title “Special Assistant to the GM”, though it’s not quite clear what the change in his role will actually be. Pitching coordinator Justin Meccage will now join the coaching staff as assistant pitching coach. In addition, pro scout Sean McNally has been named Special Assistant to the GM, John Birbeck and Matt Taylor have been made scouting assistants, and Joe Douglas and Justin Newman have been named quantitative analysts. While these moves seem to be mostly routine shuffling, it’s worth noting that very few first-round picks of the Pirates have lived up to their billing over the past 12 years.

    More details from around the NL Central…

    • In other Pirates news, closer Felipe Rivero has dropped agent Scott Boras. He’ll now be represented by Magnus Sports, according to Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rivero enjoyed a breakout season in 2017, posting a 1.67 ERA and 3.50 WPA across 75 1/3 innings thanks in part to a 10.51 K/9 and a 52.9% ground ball rate. Although he enjoyed a bit of BABIP and home run luck, his 3.03 xFIP is still a solid mark. The left-hander compiled 21 saves after taking over as Pittsburgh’s closer halfway through the season, and is arbitration-eligible for the first time next offseason. He should be in line for a significant raise if he can perform close to his 2017 numbers. Bloom notes that Magnus Sports also represents some other closers, including Aroldis Chapman of the Yankees and Raisel Iglesias of the Reds.
    • Speaking of Iglesias, the right-hander has officially decided not to opt into arbitration, according to Mark Sheldon of It seemed highly unlikely that Iglesias would choose to do so this season, considering his contract will pay him $4.5MM next season, while MLBTR’s arbitration model projected him for a $2.8MM salary. Nevertheless, Iglesias’ statement ends any speculation that he would opt into the process during this offseason (though he’ll have another opportunity next year). For the 2017 season, Iglesias finished 15th among relievers in total innings pitched (75), 22nd in ERA (2.49), 13th in saves (28), and tied for 13th in strikeouts (92).
    2017 Non-Tenders Sat, 02 Dec 2017 01:10:38 +0000 The deadline to tender 2018 contracts to players is tonight at 8pm EST. We’ll keep track of the day’s non-tenders in this post (all referenced arbitration projections courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) …

    • The Giants non-tendered righty Albert Suarez, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Suarez, 28, was not yet eligible for arbitration.
    • Righty Tom Koehler and infielder Ryan Goins are heading to the open market after being non-tendered by the Blue Jays, per a team announcement.
    • The Rays announced that lefty Xavier Cedeno has been non-tendered, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
    • The Cubs non-tendered catcher Taylor Davis, per a team announcement. He was not yet eligible for arbitration.
    • Four Rangers players have not been tendered contracts, per a club announcement. Righties Chi Chi Gonzalez, A.J. Griffin, and Nick Martinez have been cut loose along with infielder Hanser Alberto. Griffin ($3.0MM projection) and Martinez ($2.0MM) were both noted as non-tender candidates by MLBTR. The other two players were not yet eligible for arbitration. Gonzalez was a former first-round pick who had struggled of late and underwent Tommy John surgery in July.
    • The Diamondbacks have also non-tendered lefty T.J. McFarland, who had projected at a $1.0MM salary.
    • The Reds non-tendered lefty Kyle Crockett, a pre-arb lefty who was only recently claimed on waivers, per a club announcement.
    • Per a club announcement, the Brewers have non-tendered veteran righty Jared Hughes. He will end up being the only 40-man player not to receive a contract from Milwaukee. Hughes had projected at a $2.2MM arbitration value. The 32-year-old is a master at inducing grounders and has turned in repeatedly excellent results. He also averaged a career-best 93.9 mph on his sinker in 2017.
    • The Mariners have non-tendered lefty Drew Smyly and righty Shae Simmons, per a club announcement. While the former was expected, due to Smyly’s Tommy John surgery, the latter rates as something of a surprise given his cheap $700K projection. Of course, it’s possible the club is not optimistic of his chances of bouncing back from arm troubles.
    • The White Sox will not tender a contract to reliever Jake Petricka, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). He had projected to take home $1.1MM in his second trip through the arb process. Also non-tendered, per a club announcement, were righties Zach Putnam and Al Alburquerque as well as infielder Alan Hanson.
    • It seems that righty Bruce Rondon will wind up his tenure with the Tigers, as the organization is set to non-tender him, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free-Press (via Twitter). Rondon was long viewed as a potential late-inning arm for the Tigers, but had some notable run-ins with the organization, struggled with control, and never consistently produced at the MLB level. Though he projected to earn just $1.2MM, Rondon will be allowed to find a new organization. He will turn 26 later this month.
    • The Diamondbacks will non-tender righty J.J. Hoover, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). Hoover projected at just $1.6MM, but Arizona is watching every penny as it seeks to return to the postseason with a tight payroll situation. The 30-year-old turned in 41 1/3 innings of 3.92 ERA ball in 2017 with 11.8 K/9 but also 5.7 BB/9 on the year.
    • The Royals announced that they have non-tendered outfielder Terrance Gore. Though Gore was not eligible for arbitration, teams occasionally utilize today’s deadline to prune their 40-man rosters. Gore had quite an interesting run with Kansas City, scarcely playing at all during the regular season and then appearing as a speed-and-defense asset in the team’s two storied postseason runs. Now, though the fleet-footed 26-year-old is out of options. With an upper minors OPS that hovers just over .600, Gore just was not going to break camp with the club. It seems reasonable to think there’s a chance he’ll return to the organization on a minors deal, though Gore will also have a shot at exploring the broader market.
    Tim Adleman Signs With KBO’s Samsung Lions Thu, 30 Nov 2017 15:00:26 +0000 The Samsung Lions of the Korea Baseball Organization announced today that they’ve signed right-hander Tim Adleman to a one-year deal worth $1.05MM (via Jee-ho Yoo of South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency). The Reds haven’t announced the move, but Adleman was still on Cincinnati’s 40-man roster, so they’ll likely receive financial compensation from the Lions for releasing Adleman and paving the way for the move.

    Adleman, who turned 30 earlier this month, has appeared in 43 games for the Reds over the past two seasons, totaling 192 innings of 4.97 ERA ball with 7.3 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, a 35.1 percent ground-ball rate and an average fastball velocity of 90.4 mph. He led an injury-plagued Reds pitching staff with 122 1/3 innings and finished second on the team with 20 starts made. However, Adleman was also among baseball’s most homer-prone pitchers in 2017, averaging a whopping 2.12 long balls per nine innings pitched.

    Though he’s yet to experience much in the way of Major League success, Adleman does possess a solid minor league track record. He’s logged just 63 2/3 innings in Triple-A but recorded a sharp 2.40 ERA along the way, and overall he’s worked to a 3.57 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9 in 458 2/3 innings across parts of six minor league seasons. Though he’s been a fly-ball pitcher in the Majors, he’s demonstrated the ability to induce grounders in the minors, routinely registering ground-ball rates of 45 percent or better.

    For the Reds, losing Adleman will obviously deplete the team’s depth in the rotation. However, Cincinnati will surely be banking on better health from the trio of Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan and Homer Bailey in 2017; DeSclafani missed the entire year with an elbow issue, while Finnegan was limited to just 13 innings and Bailey chipped in 91 frames. Beyond that, the Reds saw a number of young arms break into the Majors last season, and while many of them struggled, GM Dick Williams recently noted to Fangraphs’ David Laurila that the organization was heartened by strong finishes from the likes of Luis Castillo, Sal Romano and Tyler Mahle.

    In addition to those six arms, the Reds also have lefties Amir Garrett and Cody Reed as options, as well as right-handers Robert Stephenson, Rookie Davis, Jackson Stephens, Keury Mella and Jose Lopez all on the 40-man roster, which now stands at 39 players.

    Free Agent Profile: Zack Cozart Wed, 29 Nov 2017 22:23:37 +0000 Zack Cozart’s huge 2017 season would seem like the perfect platform year as he enters free agency, though the veteran shortstop faces a complicated market and some inevitable questions about whether he can duplicate his breakout year.


    Defense has long been Cozart’s calling card.  Since debuting in 2011, he ranks seventh in UZR/150 (+10.6) and 14th in Defensive Runs Saved (56) among all players in baseball with at least 6000 innings played.  Among just shortstops in that same timeframe, Cozart is behind only the incomparable Andrelton Simmons in both categories and also behind Brandon Crawford in DRS.  Cozart would provide a massive boost to any club looking to improve its run prevention.

    Zack Cozart | Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

    Heading into last season, however, Cozart still hadn’t been able to move beyond his reputation as a glove-only player.  He posted roughly average run-production numbers in 2015-16, though injuries and a major second-half fade in 2016 left doubts as to whether he could truly put it together at the plate.  Those questions were answered in rather stunning fashion, as Cozart emerged as not just a solid bat, but one of baseball’s best overall hitters in 2017.

    The numbers are startling — a .297/.385/.548 slash line over 507 PA, 24 homers, 80 runs scored, and almost as many walks (62) as strikeouts (78).  Cozart’s 141 OPS+ was topped by just 15 players in the entire league, with an overall 5.0 fWAR surpassed by only 16 players.  In fact, Cozart also has the highest 2017 fWAR total of the entire 2017-18 free agent class, counting both hitters and pitchers.

    Cozart was no creation of the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark, as he hit well both at home (.958 OPS) and on the road (.900 OPS).  He also displayed a nice balance against all pitchers, crushing lefties to the tune of a 1.059 OPS while also hitting right-handed pitching hard (.896 OPS).

    While he set new career bests in virtually every offensive category, most of Cozart’s advanced metrics are not too far removed from his normal career rates.  His homer rate did spike, and his swinging-strike and overall swing rates both dropped significantly from his career norms.  This increased plate discipline bodes well for Cozart’s ability to continue an above-average level of hitting, even if he may not again reach the peak of his 2017 production.


    While he still outperformed many hitters who received well more than 507 plate appearances, Cozart was again hampered by injuries, as quad injuries to both legs limited him to just 122 games.  Between the quad problems, a torn knee ligament in 2015 and continued knee issues in 2016, Cozart has played in just 296 of the Reds’ 486 games over the last three seasons.  This lack of durability and the fact that Cozart just turned 32 last August will give some teams pause before considering him for a pricey multi-year contract.

    It’s worth noting that last season was one of Cozart’s lesser defensive years, as he delivered “only” a +6.2 UZR/150 and +2 DRS.  Obviously these are still fine numbers, though it could hint that the years of leg problems are beginning to impact Cozart’s glovework.  It certainly seems like the injuries could be hurting Cozart on the basepaths, given that Fangraphs’ BsR metric has indicated subpar baserunning totals in each of the two seasons since his knee surgery.

    While Cozart would hardly be the first player to blossom later in his career, his continuing to be a top-15 hitter in 2018 would be even more of a surprise than his 2017 breakout.  As per Statcast, Cozart’s expected weighted on-base average (.332) was well below his actual .399 wOBA thanks to his middling launch angle and exit velocity numbers — that 0.067 gap between the two categories was the second-largest of any player in baseball with at least 200 at-bats in 2017.

    In fairness, Cozart has specifically tailored his swing and plate approach to account for his general lack of hard contact, and to focus on a level swing rather than aiming to put the ball in the air.  This makes him an interesting outlier among modern hitters, though his power surge may have less to do with swing changes than it does (as Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron recently observed) with the livelier baseballs reportedly used in MLB play over the last two years.  If Cameron’s argument is correct, Cozart’s home run numbers could be in particular danger of regression if there are further alterations in how the balls are produced.

    Cozart said back in April that he’d actually been feeling more comfortable hitting over two years ago due to increased aggressiveness at the plate, so between that and a minor swing tweak from last Spring Training, above-average production could be a new normal for Cozart.  Still, his 2017 numbers were so far beyond his career averages that some amount of regression seems inevitable.


    A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Cozart was a second-round pick for the Reds in the 2007 draft after three years of college ball at the University of Mississippi.  His collegiate success earned him a spot on the United States’ gold medal-winning team in the 2006 World University Championship.

    As one of the few long-term veterans on the rebuilding Reds, Cozart earned the nickname of “Coach” for his leadership role within the young clubhouse.  Cozart was named as the Reds’ recipient of the 2016 Heart & Hustle Award by the MLB Players Alumni Association.

    On a lighter note, the Cozart family welcomed a new pet into the fold this past summer, thanks to Joey Votto’s promise to buy his teammate a donkey if Cozart made the NL All-Star roster.


    While Cozart is far and away the top free agent shortstop available this winter, his biggest issue could be that the shortstop market itself isn’t very large.  Most contenders or would-be contenders already have a shortstop in place, and several of the teams with a hole at the position (such as the Marlins or Padres) are in a rebuilding phase.

    This would seem to at least create the possibility that Cozart remains in Cincinnati.  The two sides shared some interest in working out a contract extension last summer, and while it would be somewhat unusual to see Cozart become a long-term piece for the club after two years of trade rumors, the Reds may have changed course after seeing him emerge as a hitter.  The Reds could decide to go with Cozart and Scooter Gennett (another breakout player in 2017) in the middle infield, leaving Jose Peraza and Dilson Herrera for backup or utility roles, or the team could shop one of those young and controllable talents for some much-needed pitching help.

    Looking at other possible suitors, there are a lot of “maybe, if…” situations that could see a team make a play for Cozart.  The Orioles or Royals could be fits if they aren’t respectively sold on Tim Beckham or Raul Mondesi Jr. as everyday shortstops (and if Kansas City doesn’t enter a rebuild itself).  The Pirates or Rays would need to carve out payroll space, or the Cardinals could get into the mix if they sold high on Paul DeJong in another trade.

    Perhaps the easier path to locating Cozart’s next team is to look for openings at second or third base.  This could require a change of heart from Cozart, as he reportedly “feels strongly” about sticking at his usual position, though he might have no choice but to become more flexible given the lack of shortstop vacancies.  Cozart’s reps at Excel Sports Management could pitch their client both as a regular starter at one position, or as an everyday contributor that could get 600 PA while receiving a couple of starts per week at shortstop, second and third.  The Angels have already considered Cozart as a second baseman, and a position switch could also get teams like the Mets, Giants, Blue Jays, or Braves interested.

    One plus for Cozart’s market is that the Reds declined to issue him a qualifying offer, so another team can sign him without having to surrender any draft pick compensation.

    Expected Contract

    MLBTR predicts Cozart will find a three-year, $42MM deal this winter, though this could be a pretty fluid projection depending on whether or not Cozart is open to a position change.  While Cozart’s age could be an obstacle in finding a fourth guaranteed year, you’d think multiple teams would love to find space for a player coming off a five-win season somewhere around the infield, maybe even to the point of making room at shortstop.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

    Dick Williams On Reds' Young Pitchers Wed, 29 Nov 2017 01:52:03 +0000
  • While the Reds’ rotation has plenty of uncertainty heading into the 2018 season, GM Dick Williams tells David Laurila of Fangraphs that he’s nonetheless optimistic about the team’s collection of young arms. As Williams explains, injuries forced the Reds to promote numerous prospects from Double-A while skipping the Triple-A level entirely. Still, some of those arms made adjustments on the fly as the season wore on, and the experience gained was valuable in their overall development. Williams points to strong finishes from Luis Castillo, Sal Romano and Tyler Mahle as encouraging factors heading into the offseason. And, of course, the Reds will hope for better health from the likes of Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan and Homer Bailey, which could further help to bolster the rotation results. Laurila also chats with Twins GM Thad Levine about managerial qualifications and Rangers skipper Jeff Banister about player development.
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    Shohei Ohtani Rumors: Tuesday Tue, 28 Nov 2017 22:13:43 +0000 Though Shohei Ohtani has not even yet been officially posted — that’s expected as soon as Friday — the supreme young talent is drawing plenty of attention from MLB organizations. Those clubs received a memorandum over the weekend asking them to provide information to Ohtani and his representatives on a variety of subjects, which is only the beginning of a highly unusual and utterly fascinating recruitment process.

    Here’s the latest:

    • Though Ohtani is limited to a signing bonus and a minor league contract in coming to the Major Leagues, he stands to earn substantially more through marketing endorsements, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Marketing agents have predicted to Nightengale that between endorsements back in Japan and in the United States, Ohtani could command north of $20MM annually. That’d make him MLB’s highest-paid player in terms of off-the-field revenue.
    • Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic spoke to agent Scott Boras (who was in the running to represent Ohtani before Ohtani signed CAA and Nez Balelo) as well as MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem about Ohtani’s earning capacity. Unsurprisingly, Boras offered sharp criticism of a system that won’t allow Ohtani to top a $3.535MM signing bonus at this point. “He is precocious, greatness cast adrift, forced into the MLB lifeboat,” said the always colorful Boras. “And his admission is handcuffs that prevent him from getting at least what his older, lesser valued peers received—in Tanaka’s case, more than $150 million.” Halem, as one would expect, wholly disagreed with Boras’ notions, pointing out that it was Ohtani who passed on the chance to sign with MLB clubs as an amateur out of high school, which could have jump-started his earning potential. And, it was Ohtani who asked to be posted as an amateur just two years before he could have been posted as a professional. The free column has quite a few quotes from both Boras and Halem on the matter and is well worth a full look.

    Earlier Updates

    Read more

    Reds Claim Kyle Crockett From Indians Mon, 27 Nov 2017 19:50:09 +0000 The Reds announced on Monday that they’ve claimed left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett off waivers from the Indians. Crockett, 25, was designated for assignment in Cleveland last week as the team set its 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 Draft.

    Crockett was a fourth-round pick back in 2013 and was the first player from that draft class to reach the Majors, debuting in 2014. While he turned in a promising 1.80 ERA with 8.4 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 30 innings that season, he’s struggled to a 4.84 ERA with 8.7 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 in 35 1/3 big league innings since then. To his credit, Crockett has allowed just a minuscule three homers in 65 1/3 MLB innings and has held lefties to a .614 OPS in 167 plate appearances. Righties have knocked him around at a .280/.373/.452 clip, though.

    The addition of Crockett fills Cincinnati’s 40-man roster.

    Looking For A Match In A Raisel Iglesias Trade Sun, 26 Nov 2017 23:44:17 +0000 The Reds’ short- and long-term plans for their rotation hit a snag in 2016 when promising starter Raisel Iglesias shifted to the bullpen after encountering shoulder problems. Now, with Iglesias having morphed into one of the game’s most valuable late-game assets over the past two seasons, it’s clear that something positive came from the right-hander’s role change.

    Since he became a member of Cincinnati’s relief corps, Iglesias has combined for 126 innings of 2.29 ERA pitching, with 10.43 K/9 against 3.29 BB/9. Any team would sign up for that type of production, including the Reds themselves, who seem inclined to retain Iglesias entering his age-28 season. But with the Reds amid a rebuild and not looking like near-term contenders, there’s an argument to be made that they should sell Iglesias this winter.

    Raisel Iglesias

    Iglesias has already drawn reported interest from the Twins, who will need to bolster their thin bullpen if they’re going to build on the unexpected success they experienced in 2017. Iglesias would be a fit for a Minnesota club seeking more strikeouts from its pitching staff, but with a farm system that lacks impact talent (per Baseball America), he may be out of its reach.

    The Twins are one of a multitude of teams that could inquire about Iglesias (or maybe already have). Indeed, general manager Dick Williams estimated earlier this month that two-thirds of the league would have interest in Iglesias without the Reds even having to shop his services. That seems like a reasonable guess on Williams’ part, given both Iglesias’ superb pitching and his affordability.

    Thanks to the seven-year, $27MM contract he signed as a Cuban defector in 2014, Iglesias is under control through the 2020-21 offseason. He’s guaranteed a relatively meager $14.5MM in salaries over the next three years ($4.5MM in 2018, $5MM in both ’19 and ’20), though he could opt into arbitration in each of those offseasons if he believes he’d rake in more money that way. That’s unlikely to happen in 2018, with MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projecting a $2.8MM arbitration award for Iglesias should he choose that route. Regardless, Iglesias’ contract only adds to his appeal, and it’s a big part of the reason why he’d command a significant haul in a trade.

    Teams with good systems that are either in contention or close to it stand out as the best fits for Iglesias in a hypothetical trade, which would seem to rule out rebuilding clubs such as the Tigers, Padres, Marlins, Athletics and White Sox. None of the Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, Mariners, Angels, Rangers, Indians, Mets, Cubs, Pirates, Diamondbacks or Giants look like ideal fits, either, for various reasons.

    Toronto and Tampa Bay have two of the top 10 farms in the league, according to BA, though neither team appears to be in position to strip itself of major young talent to acquire a reliever. The Yankees and Indians seem to possess more than enough quality relievers, meanwhile, and the rest of the aforementioned clubs probably don’t have the youth on hand to put together a suitable package for Iglesias. That leaves us with seven of the Reds’ National League counterparts — the Braves, Phillies, Nationals, Cardinals, Brewers, Rockies and Dodgers — and the World Series champion Astros.

    An earnest Iglesias pursuit could be a tad aggressive for either Atlanta or Philadelphia, a pair of clubs that have resided at the bottom of the standings in recent years. Both teams seem to be pushing toward contention, however, and there’s no shortage of capable prospects on hand in either case (even though the Braves just lost a dozen youngsters thanks to ex-GM John Coppolella’s transgressions).

    The Nationals figure to rule the NL East for the third straight year in 2018, but they’re not loaded in the bullpen after Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. Next season might be the last in D.C. for Bryce Harper, which could lead to some bold, go-for-broke moves from general manager Mike Rizzo this winter. Landing Iglesias would qualify, though it would mean further thinning out a top-heavy system.

    The Cardinals look poised to serve as one of the league’s most active teams in the next few months, and the need for relief help is apparent with Trevor Rosenthal out of the organization and Seung-hwan Oh and Juan Nicasio having hit free agency. The division-rival Brewers had the world-class game-ending tandem of Corey Knebel and Josh Hader in 2017, but the latter could shift to the rotation in the near future. Even if he doesn’t, there’s room for another inexpensive, top-notch reliever in Milwaukee, a low-payroll club with the prospects to assemble an Iglesias package.

    As for the two NL West clubs, the Rockies and Dodgers, it’s clear there’s a greater need for Iglesias in Colorado. The Rockies surprisingly earned a playoff berth in 2017, in part because of relievers Greg Holland, Jake McGee and Pat Neshek. All three of those hurlers are now free agents, however, so Colorado is going to have to focus on its bullpen this offseason. Enter Iglesias, then? Notably, he’s rather reliant on a slider, a pitch the Rockies’ relievers threw more than 28 other bullpens last season and one that’s capable of surviving in the high altitude at Coors Field.

    The pennant-winning Dodgers have arguably the game’s preeminent closer in Kenley Jansen, but their second-best reliever from last season, Brandon Morrow, is currently on the open market. That leaves room for an Iglesias pickup if they’re willing to part with the prospects, as he’s superior to late-inning holdovers such as Pedro Baez, Josh Fields, Luis Avilan and ex-Reds teammate Tony Cingrani.

    The Astros managed to knock off the Dodgers in a Fall Classic that lived up its name, though the slump Houston’s bullpen endured nearly foiled its plans. Still, Iglesias would be more of a luxury than a must-have for the Astros, who look to be in fine shape with Ken Giles (playoff struggles notwithstanding), Chris Devenski, Will Harris and Joe Musgrove in the fold. But GM Jeff Luhnow tried to meaningfully improve the Astros’ bullpen over the summer, when he nearly swung a deal for the Orioles’ Zach Britton, and that was before Giles’ disastrous postseason run. With that in mind, perhaps Luhnow will dip into his high-end farm system this offseason to reel in a premier reliever like Iglesias, who would join a bullpen that led the majors in slider usage in 2017.

    While the Reds may choose to go forward with Iglesias, it’s inarguable that they have an eminently valuable trade chip on their hands. As someone who saved 28 of 30 opportunities and recorded more than three outs in 17 of 63 appearances last season, Iglesias is the type of flexible late-game weapon who’d be worth more to a playoff-caliber team than a non-contender. With Cincinnati falling into the latter category, Iglesias just might himself in another uniform in 2018.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Joey Votto Not Likely To Be Traded This Winter Wed, 22 Nov 2017 16:37:32 +0000 Just in case there was any doubt,’s Mark Sheldon writes in response to a fan inquiry that there’s no indication whatsoever that Reds first baseman Joey Votto will end up being moved this winter. The polished batsman, who very nearly took home National League MVP honors for the 2017 season, has given every indication that “he doesn’t want to leave the Reds,” says Sheldon, and can control his own fate through a full no-trade clause.

    • The Twins will need to chase down some relief arms, too. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports on his podcast (audio link) that the club has engaged the Padres on Brad Hand and the Rays on Alex Colome. Minnesota was previously reported to have chatted with the Reds about Raisel Iglesias, and these new names fit the same general profile as established late-inning arms with affordable remaining control. All will come with appropriately lofty price tags. Berardino also tweets that Cubs lefty Justin Wilson might represent a target for the Twins. Having struggled last year upon landing in Chicago, Wilson could conceivably become available, though that’s far from certain. Minnesota eyed the power southpaw in the past, says Berardino, though that occurred before the current front office leadership came into office.
    Players Added To The 40-Man Roster Tue, 21 Nov 2017 00:47:42 +0000 As detailed earlier this morning at MLBTR, the deadline for Major League clubs to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft is tonight. Because of that, there will be literally dozens of moves between now and 8pm ET as teams make final determinations on who to protect and who to risk losing in next month’s Rule 5 draft. This process will lead to smaller-scale trades, waiver claims and DFAs, but for some clubs the only necessary moves will simply be to select the contracts of the prospects they wish to place on the 40-man roster. We’ll track those such moves in this post…

    Click to check in on other teams that have selected players to their 40-man rosters …

    Read more

    Minor MLB Transactions: 11/18/17 Sat, 18 Nov 2017 15:32:07 +0000 Here are Saturday’s minor moves throughout the league…

    • The Reds have re-signed outfielder Patrick Kivlehan to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training, beat reporter Mark Sheldon of reports on Twitter. After bouncing around between the minor league systems of the Mariners, Rangers and Padres, Kivlehan made his major league debut in 2016 with the Padres organization and eventually made his way over to the Reds. In 204 plate appearances with Cincinnati last year, he hit .208/.304/.399 with a 29.9% K rate and 9 homers.
    Minor MLB Transactions: 11/17/17 Sat, 18 Nov 2017 03:10:16 +0000 Here are Friday’s minor moves throughout the league…

    • Joining the Reds on minors deals are outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer was among those to report on Twitter. Once seen as one of the game’s better overall prospects, the 26-year-old Williams has seen scant action in the majors over the past three seasons — all with the Yankees, his only professional team to this point. At the highest level of the minors last year, Williams posted a .263/.309/.318 batting line and swiped 19 bags over 437 plate appearances.Herrera, 25, has himself received top prospect billing in the past and is also something of a change-of-scenery candidate (in his case, from the Rockies). He just wrapped up his first season at Triple-A, slashing .278/.351/.394 with twenty steals over 363 plate appearances.
    • The Mets have struck a minors pact with southpaw Matt Purke, the team announced. Purke, 27, was considered a significant amateur prospect but has never fully found his niche at the game’s highest levels while dealing with numerous injury issues. He cracked the majors in 2016 with the White Sox, but did not return last year even as the Chicago organization cycled through a number of arms. Purke arguably turned in his best work in the upper minors, though, working 65 2/3 frames of 3.84 ERA ball over 48 innings while compiling 11.0 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9.
    • Right-hander Angel Nesbitt has been hit with a 50-game PED suspension, Emily Waldon of The Athletic tweets. Nesbitt received a 24-game run in the majors in 2015 with the Tigers, but hadn’t made his way back and struggled in limited action in 2017. He is a minor-league free agent, meaning he’ll serve his penance upon signing with a new organization.

    Earlier Updates

    • The Blue Jays announced last night that they’ve brought back former first-round pick Deck McGuire on a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training. Toronto selected McGuire, now 28 years of age, with the 10th overall pick back in 2010. The former Georgia Tech star tore through Class-A Advanced with the Jays but began to struggle upon reaching Double-A and was ultimately traded to the A’s for cash considerations in 2014. McGuire has since pitched in the upper levels of the Dodgers and Cardinals systems, and in 2017 he made his big league debut with the Reds after turning in a terrific season in Double-A. McGuire tossed 168 innings with a 2.79 ERA, 9.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 for Cincinnati’s Pensacola affiliate, and he impressed in a brief sample of MLB innings as well. Through 13 2/3 frames with the Reds, McGuire allowed four earned runs (2.63 ERA) on 10 hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts.
    • Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times tweets that the Dodgers are closing in on a minor league deal with left-hander Manny Banuelos. The 26-year-old Banuelos was once one of the most prized prospects in the Yankees’ farm system before elbow problems slowed his career. Banuelos had Tommy John surgery back in 2013 and has since undergone a second elbow operation to remove bone chips. His lone season with MLB experience came in 2015 when he tossed 26 1/3 innings with the Braves. Banuelos spent the 2017 season with the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate and struggled to a 4.93 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against 4.6 BB/9 in 95 innings. It’s perhaps worth noting that he spent the bulk of 2017 as a reliever (nine starts, 30 relief outings) — his first career season working primarily out of the bullpen.
    Reds, Joe Mantiply Agree To Minors Deal Wed, 15 Nov 2017 01:17:47 +0000
  •’s Mark Sheldon reports (via Twitter) that the Reds have signed lefty Joe Mantiply to a minor league deal and invited him to Major League Spring Training. The soft-tossing 26-year-old southpaw got a brief cup of coffee with the Tigers in 2016, tossing 2 2/3 innings at the MLB level. Mantiply spent the ’17 season with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate, tossing 70 innings with 8.0 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 49.3 percent ground-ball rate en route to a 2.83 ERA. He’ll look to break into a Reds relief corps that, at present, looks to be somewhat unsettled, though Cincinnati will undoubtedly add some pieces over the course of the offseason.
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    Reds Notes: Iglesias, Outfield Tue, 14 Nov 2017 21:47:05 +0000
  • At this stage, at least, reports of interest in Reds closer Raisel Iglesias probably ought to be taken with a grain of salt — not because there isn’t much interest, but because it’s so widespread. Per president of baseball operations Dick Williams, “the fair assumption would be that two-thirds of the teams would have interest without having them have to call,” as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. While the club surely won’t be rash in dealing Iglesias, Williams does note that the team isn’t “holding on to him out of fear of what the rest of the bullpen would do.” At the same time, other clubs are being given the sense that Cincinnati intends to keep Iglesias, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, so it seems likely that it’ll take a significant offer to gain traction in talks.
  • The Reds do recognize they are well-stocked in the outfield, though Williams suggests it’s more depth than a true “surplus” from which to trade. That appears to be a fair take; while Cincinnati could end up with a bit of a playing-time logjam if things break right, that’s also far from a given. Generally, the team’s top baseball decision-maker says to expect “an opportunistic approach” to the offseason — which may also require some patience from fans.
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