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MLB Free Agency: Breaking Down the Cincinnati Reds' Contract Situations

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MLB Free Agency: Breaking Down the Cincinnati Reds' Contract Situations
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The Cincinnati Reds are coming off a great regular season with a disappointing postseason finish. They now move in to the offseason with the tough task of trying to figure out what the team needs without disrupting the chemistry of a team that, for the most part, was very successful in 2012.

The Reds have a multitude of players with guaranteed contracts in 2013. Those 10 players with guaranteed money are (per MLBtraderumors.com):

  • Joey Votto
  • Brandon Phillips
  • Johnny Cueto
  • Jay Bruce
  • Aroldis Chapman
  • Sean Marshall
  • Bronson Arroyo
  • Nick Masset
  • Ryan Hanigan
  • Jose Arredondo

 

In addition to these players, the Reds have nine players who are arbitration eligible. Those players are (per MLBtraderumors.com):

  • Bill Bray
  • Homer Bailey
  • Wilson Valdez
  • Mat Latos
  • Mike Leake
  • Drew Stubbs
  • Chris Heisey
  • Alfredo Simon
  • Logan Ondrusek

Which arbitration eligible player shouldn't be tendered?

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The Reds have 19 players either locked up in multi-year deals, or arbitration eligible. 

The Reds' nine arbitration eligible players include six obvious choices for tender. Those players are, Bailey, Latos, Leake, Stubbs, Heisey and Simon. 

The Reds also have the option to extend some of these players—the two guys likely to receive multi-year contracts are Mat Latos and Homer Bailey.

Bailey finally fulfilled some of the potential the Reds saw in him when he was selected with the seventh overall pick in the 2004 MLB draft ahead of players like Jered Weaver, Billy Butler and Dustin Pedroia.

Latos made 33 starts in 2012, tying him for first in the National League. Latos proved to be worth the haul of prospects shipped to San Diego and deserves a multi-year deal. The Reds would be wise to lock him up, buy out some of his arbitration years and get some value out of him, as I believe Latos is becoming an "ace" quality pitcher. (See my article on that subject.)

As for the three unmentioned players, Ondrusek, Valdez and Bray, I expect only one or two of them to be tendered.

Valdez is 34 years old and fulfills the same utility-player/pinch hitter role that top prospect Didi Gregorius would occupy.

 

Which expiring contract would like to see brought back most?

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Therefore, Valdez is likely on the way out.

On to Bray and Ondrusek.

Bray battled injuries all season long, appeared in 14 games, and pitched only 8.2 innings. In those eight innings, Bray was horrendous and pitched to an ERA of 5.14 with a WHIP of 2.31 while surrendering six hits (including two home runs) and 14 walks to just seven strikeouts.

Bray is in his second year of arbitration eligibility, and although he had great success in 2008 and 2011, he is 29 with an injury ridden career. He too, appears to be on the way out.

Conversely, Logan Ondrusek is 27 with a true pitcher's build (6'8" 230 pounds) and has pitched well over the last three seasons.

Ondrusek struggled late last year, but that may be a result of his being overused. I fully expect Ondrusek to be tendered.

The Reds also have Ryan Ludwick, who declined his end of a mutual option, and Ryan Madson who will likely have his mutual option declined by the Reds.

Additionally, the Reds have Scott Rolen, Dioner Navarro, Miguel Cairo and Jonathan Broxton, whose contracts all ran out at the end of 2012.

Rolen will likely retire and Miguel Cairo may very well do the same. Dioner Navarro may be brought back for a similar role to the one he played this season while Devin Mesoraco works out the kinks in his offensive game.

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Walt Jocketty will be a busy man this offseason

 

That leaves the Reds with Jonathan Broxton, Ryan Ludwick and Ryan Madson without contracts.

In order to determine who's worth keeping out of Broxton and Madson, the Reds will have to decide once and for all what to do with Aroldis Chapman. My vote goes for keeping arguably the most dominant pitcher in the game, as a closer.

This leaves Broxton and Madson to test free agency.

Finally, as for Ludwick, I would love to see the Reds bring him back. If he can produce anywhere near what he did in 2012, he'll be a great No. 4 hitter, and the Reds could certainly use him to split up Joey Votto and Jay Bruce while having the option to platoon Heisey with Stubbs.

Bringing Ludwick back leaves the Reds with a 25-man roster set something like this:

  • Joey Votto
  • Brandon Phillips
  • Zack Cozart
  • Todd Frazier
  • Ryan Ludwick
  • Drew Stubbs
  • Chris Heisey
  • Jay Bruce
  • Ryan Hanigan
  • Devin Mesoraco/Dioner Navarro
  • Didi Gregorius
  • Johnny Cueto
  • Mat Latos
  • Homer Bailey
  • Bronson Arroyo
  • Mike Leake
  • Alfredo Simon
  • Sam LeCure
  • Jose Arredondo
  • Sean Marshall
  • Nick Masset
  • Logan Ondrusek
  • Aroldis Chapman

 

That leaves the team with two open spots. They could choose to fill with either a pitcher and a position player, or two position players.

Don't be surprised if the Reds roster looks eerily similar to 2012 with an addition of a Juan Pierre-type leadoff hitter.

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