The Cincinnati Reds are again going through a somewhat quiet winter meetings. While they have made the majority of their big trades in December, they haven't made them at the annual event.
Several Reds fans are wondering what pieces are being put into place to make them a better ballclub in 2014, and the answer is not that simple. According to C. Trent Rosecrans of Cincinnati.com, Walt Jocketty is looking for a backup shortstop that is preferably a switch-hitter.
According to the Wall Street Journal's Daniel Barbarisi, the New York Yankees asked about starting pitcher Homer Bailey, but Jocketty shot down the idea of trading him and said they want to actually sign him to a new contract.
There aren’t many moves the Reds can make in the free-agency market, and big names are being scratched off the list each day. With insight that the Reds are looking for shortstop help, let’s see who they might be able to pick up.
Here are the top three available players still within reach of the Cincinnati Reds.
All statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
Bronson Arroyo's manager, Terry Bross, says the starting pitcher met with Reds officials at the winter meetings this week, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. This might give some indication that the Reds want to either trade away one of the pitchers or bulk up their rotation with a guy they know they can count on throwing every five days.
The Reds could re-sign the right-handed veteran and move young lefty Tony Cingrani. The club could also try exploring a trade with Johnny Cueto or Homer Bailey (even though Jocketty says he isn’t trading him).
Signing Arroyo would be smart if the price is right. They turned down his $14 million buyout at the end of the season, which could mean that Arroyo’s price has dropped.
The years are what the Reds should be concerned with in Arroyo’s contract. If they do re-sign him, they’ll have at least six starters entering spring training and will likely have to do something and move someone.
This certainly wouldn’t be a sexy pick, but former Detroit Tigers backup infielder Ramon Santiago fits exactly what the Reds have sought in past seasons. Santiago is a 34-year-old backup veteran who can play all across the infield.
According to Baseball Reference, Santiago got 33 starts last season at shortstop—his most of any position in the infield. However, he did play 27 times at both second and third base in 2013.
Santiago is a career .243/.311/.330 hitter and has quality defensive traits. The Reds would be getting him more so for his glove than his bat, but he could be a decent piece for the bench.
Santiago would be affordable on a year or two-year max contract. The Reds would also get a player with 51 at-bats in the postseason, a switch-hitter and a strong veteran presence in the clubhouse.
It wouldn't cause a huge splash in the free-agent market, but former Baltimore Orioles second baseman Alexi Casilla is another free-agent option that the Reds should consider. Casilla would be primarily a backup at second base for Brandon Phillips, since Skip Schumaker will likely spend the majority of his time in the outfield.
Casilla has some speed and plays quality defense at second base. The biggest issue is he has not started more than one game at shortstop since 2011, and the Reds need someone able to move around the infield.
Casilla hit only .241/.268/.295 in 2013 and had only 10 RBI in 112 at-bats. Casilla’s average is usually a little bit higher and he typically has more stolen bases (28 SB in 2011).
However, the advantage to Casilla is that he’s younger. Casilla is only 29 years old and the Reds are likely not going to sign a backup infielder for more than two years. A two-year contract makes more sense for Casilla than Santiago, solely on their age difference.
Casilla could be a quality backup for the Reds and just another piece to the 2014 season puzzle.