Now that the Reds have signed Dusty Baker to a contract extension, what moves might be next?
(Not saying I necessarily support these, only that they fit the Reds pattern.)
* The Reds will try to resign Scott Rolen to mentor Todd Frazier at 3B. Rolen still plays an important clubhouse role. The Reds do recognize Frazier as the 3B of the future and the future is now. Rolen, particularly if he learned to play a passable 1B, could be valuable as a backup, pinch hitter, teacher and leader. And if someone has to fill the role of aged, veteran infield backup, I’d just as soon it be Rolen.
* The Reds will try to resign Ryan Madson for the bullpen. They may get a home (health care) discount from Madson, who was paid $8.5 million last season and didn’t throw a regular-season pitch for the Reds. Madson can’t be counted on as the closer (more on that in a minute) as his recovery from surgery won’t be far enough along. It takes the better part of a year and a half for pitchers to fully recover from TJS.
* The Reds will try to resign Ryan Ludwick to play LF. Ludwick’s defense was better than expected in 2012 and he certainly experienced an offensive revival. He had three good months and three bad ones. The club would be hoping for the June-August version. Paying full price for a multi-year deal for Ludwick is a gamble.
* The Reds will move Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation. This has always been the expressed preference of the upper management and also that of Chapman himself. That leaves open the possibility of trading Mike Leake. They may try to keep Leake stashed in the organization until 2014 when Bronson Arroyo’s contract expires. But Tony Cingrani lurks.
* The Reds will speed up Billy Hamilton’s development and give him a good, long look in spring training to see if he can help the Reds in 2013 by leading off and playing CF. A positive result here spells the end of the road in Reds’ uniforms for Drew Stubbs and/or Chris Heisey, who could also become trade opportunities.
* The Reds will try to find another established left-handed relief pitcher for the bullpen, allowing Sean Marshall to be used for entire innings instead of in a match-up role. Marshall had the ninth best fWAR of any relief pitcher in baseball. (Chapman was #2) He could be the closer, but that doesn’t seem to be how the Reds prefer to use him. Thus…
* The Reds will try to find a closer in the free agent market. What they learned with Madson last spring was that the closer market is likely to be a buyer’s market.