There hasn't been much action early on in the 2013 offseason by any team, and the Cincinnati Reds aren't likely to make much noise the rest of the winter. With most of the roster set, general manager Walt Jocketty will work on adding some finishing touches.
It will be a tough task as Cincinnati doesn't have much payroll flexibility. The lack of available money kept the Reds from giving pitcher Bronson Arroyo a $14.1 million qualifying offer. Now the team has to figure out creative ways to improve the roster.
Don't expect many big moves by the Reds. There aren't many spots open on the roster, so they won't be in the running for most high-profile free agents. However, The Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay believes the Reds are up to something.
Let's take a look at a couple of the moves the team could make this offseason.
Re-sign Shin-Soo Choo
This is the likeliest of any big move that the team could make, but even this move could be a long shot.
Cincinnati made a bold move to trade center fielder Drew Stubbs and shortstop Didi Gregorious last offseason for Shin-Soo Choo. The Reds had been missing a productive leadoff hitter, so trading for Choo was the best solution Cincinnati could think of. For the most part, it was a success.
After Choo declined the Reds' qualifying offer, via Fay, he will now test the market.
Will Shin-Soo Choo re-sign with the Cincinnati Reds?
The 31-year-old hit .283/.423/.462 with 21 home runs, 34 doubles, two triples and 20 stolen bases. He joined teammate Joey Votto as the only National League players to draw 100 walks this past season, and he led the majors by getting hit by a pitch 26 times. He got on base 300 times this past season.
Choo's biggest weakness was hitting against left-handed pitching. He hit only .215 with only seven doubles and eight RBI against southpaws. He didn't hit a home run against one in the regular season.
If Cincinnati can re-sign Choo, he'd be in center field for the 2014 season and then likely shift to left field after that.
As the 2013 season went on, Choo got better in center field, and he was able to show off his great arm quite a bit.
Scott Boras, Choo's agent, is looking to get his client a big deal. Mike Puma of the New York Post tweeted that Choo could get a deal worth around $90 million, but ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reported that MLB teams have told him that Boras is looking to exceed what Jayson Werth got from the Washington Nationals ($126 million) a few years ago.
If that's really what Boras is chasing, don't expect the Reds to be able to stay in the chase very long. That's a lot of money to give someone who was limited against left-handed pitching and was a liability in the field.
Great American Ball Park helped Choo's offensive numbers and hid his defensive issues pretty well. If he wants to play somewhere where he could succeed, Cincinnati is one of his top options.
Choo gave the Reds a legitimate leadoff hitter and set the tone early in many games. If the market doesn't cooperate with Boras, the Reds could find a way to get a deal done.
Trade Brandon Phillips to the New York Yankees for Mason Williams and other prospects
This isn't to be an advocate of trading the second baseman, but if the club is going to pull off a big trade, it's likely going to involve Brandon Phillips.
The New York Yankees are the favorites to sign Robinson Cano. If that happens, they won't be a potential landing spot for Phillips.
If Cano signs elsewhere, this could be a possibility. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Yankees inquired about Phillips, but the asking price was too steep. MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reported that general manager Walt Jocketty isn't looking to trade Phillips, but he didn't guarantee that the superstar would be on the team next season.
Should the Reds trade Brandon Phillips?
Another reason that a trade isn't the best idea is that it doesn't make sense for the team to deal Phillips. He is a three-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and has won a Silver Slugger. The 32-year-old set a career high with 103 RBI in 2013.
Phillips plays with a lot of emotion, which can help fire up the team.
The team could use a right-handed bat, so it wouldn't make sense to trade away the team's best bat from that side of the plate for prospects. This team is in win-now mode, and Phillips has been a big part of the club's success.
When the team needed him, Phillips got better at the plate. He hit .213 with nobody on, .307 with runners on and .338 with runners in scoring position.
Not all of his numbers were great in 2013. The second baseman's .261 average tied for the worst mark during his tenure in Cincinnati, and his .310 on-base percentage and .396 slugging percentage were the worst of his Reds career.
Don't forget that he was drilled in the forearm on June 1 in Pittsburgh. He was hitting .296 at the time, and it was obvious that he wasn't the same hitter after that.
If the Reds and Yankees ever get into serious discussions, Yankees prospect Mason Williams would likely have to be a part of any package. MLB.com ranks the outfielder as the team's No. 2 prospect and No. 36 overall.
Williams is projected to be a solid hitter with great speed and good defense. The 22-year-old bats from the left side and will continue to improve at the plate.
Catcher Gary Sanchez, the team's top prospect, would be a nice target, but he's unlikely to be dealt given the team's current catching situation. The right-handed catcher can hit for power and has a great arm.
New York would have to give up one of its two top prospects, and Williams is the more realistic option. From there, the Yankees would have to throw in another high prospect or two to get the deal done.
Phillips would be cheaper financially for the Yankees in comparison to Cano. The Reds star has four years and $50 million left on his contract, and Cano is going to get a huge deal this winter. Although a trade would be cheaper in terms of money, it would cost them some top prospects.
*All stats are courtesy of MLB.com