This is the most important offseason for the Cincinnati Reds in 12 years. The Reds assembled what looked to be a strong offensive nucleus in 1999 when their season ended in a one-game playoff with the New York Mets.
Sean Casey, Pokey Reese and Aaron Boone were the future of the franchise and the Reds began to build around them by trading for Ken Griffey Jr. and signing Dante Bichette.
Bichette hit .298 with 34 homers and 133 RBI the year before while Griffey hit .285 with 48 homers and 134 RBI.
Unfortunately, Bichette was gone before the end of the year and Griffey would never match his previous HR and RBI totals. The Reds had put all of their cards on the table and lost.
The franchise was ultimately set back several years and this year it's up to Walt Jocketty and the front office not to let history repeat itself.
The future of this 2011 Reds team is as bright as any team in baseball. Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto and Yonder Alonso make for a rock-solid foundation to build upon.
Add in Aroldis Chapman, Drew Stubbs, Edinson Volquez, Homer Bailey, Travis Wood and Juan Francisco and you have a great young team with depth.
Now add to that Yasmani Grandal, Billy Hamilton and my personal favorite, Ronald Torreyes, and you realize that this team has a scary amount of good, young, relatively cheap talent.
That is why this offseason is so important. The Reds are in an enviable situation to every small-market team in baseball.
They even have Francisco Cordero’s bloated contract coming off the books next year and a natural replacement in Chapman ready to take his spot.
They’re in a position where they don’t need to go out and sign several All-Stars to become competitive. They just need one or two players at key positions to turn things around next season.
The following list is four players that the Reds should target during free agency this offseason to help improve the club and advance deep into the playoffs.