2014 Reds / Money stuff

The Reds aren’t finished increasing payroll

General manager Walt Jocketty has made a couple moves so far this off-season, neither with significant payroll implications. In fact, the salaries going to Brayan Pena and Skip Schumaker are roughly equal to what Ryan Hanigan and Xavier Paul would have earned in 2014.

But profound (and big money) decisions – trading Brandon Phillips, Mike Leake and/or Homer Bailey, signing Shin-Soo Choo, etc – lie ahead.

What constraints on payroll will Jocketty likely face in making these moves?

Payroll Commitments

To estimate payroll commitments for 2014 at this time of the year you have to make a few assumptions (or best guesses). Try these: Brayan Pena will replace Ryan Hanigan. Skip Schumaker will replace Xavier Paul. Billy Hamilton will make the club. In that scenario, here are the current payroll commitments [in millions of dollars]:

Thirteen players have guaranteed contracts for 2014: Votto (12), Phillips (11), Bruce (10), Cueto (10), Ludwick (8.5), Latos (7.25), Broxton (7.0), Chapman (5.7), Marshall (5.5), Schumaker (2.5), Ondrusek (1.35), Pena (1.25) and Hannahan (1).

Six players are pre-arbitration and will earn league minimum: Cozart (.5), Frazier (.5), Mesoraco (.5), Hoover (.5), Cingrani (.5) and Hamilton (.5).

Five additional players are arbitration eligible, so their salaries haven’t been determined. Estimates by Matt Schwartz for MLBTR for their settlements are: Bailey (9.3), Leake (5.9), Heisey (1.7), Simon (1.6) and LeCure (1).

Bottom line: The estimated total payroll for those 24 players is $106 million. One roster slot (Choo?) remains unfilled.

Payroll Spending

There is no single agreed-upon way to measure baseball payroll, but here are numbers for the past six years based on the average of estimates from Cot’s Baseball Contracts and USA Today.

  • 2008 – $74 million
  • 2009 – $74 million
  • 2010 – $75 million
  • 2011 – $79 million
  • 2012 – $85 million
  • 2013 – $107 million

The Castellini Group took ownership of the Reds in 2006. Payroll jumped from the level under previous owner, Carl Lindner, Jr., but then leveled off from 2008 to 2010 and grew modestly in 2011 and 2012. Then, suddenly the Cincinnati Reds’ payroll made an enormous jump in 2013.

Was last season’s surge a one-time spurt that will recede, a new stasis point or the first of many step-wise increases?

Given the current salary commitments of approximately $106 outlined above, it’s probably safe to rule out the “one-time spurt” explanation. At a minimum, payroll will remain around the 2013 level.

It’s possible that Bob Castellini and Walt Jocketty will play the next few months conservatively. They won’t shed current contracts or increase payroll from 2013. In that case, the Reds would have no meaningful payroll to sign the 25th player or to take on additional salary through trades.

But that’s not going to happen. There’s overwhelming reason to expect aggressive trading and spending.

More Money Going Forward

Speculation continues to mount that the Reds will trade Brandon Phillips. Jocketty may use that move primarily to clear payroll space. Or, Phillips might be part of a trade for a center fielder that moves Billy Hamilton to second base. Either way, bidding adieu to BP gives the Reds considerable new budget space.

Further, Bob Castellini has shown that he wants to win and firing the manager alone doesn’t seem like sufficient change for a deep post-season run. Plus, you don’t axe the skipper of a 90-win team and then choke off the talent for the handpicked new guy. Castellini and Jocketty naturally want their decision to fire Dusty Baker to look like the right choice. You’d expect ownership to open its wallet as much as it can to make hiring Bryan Price look smart.

Finally and happily, the Reds have piles of additional cash available.

Attendance at GABP grew last season by over 168,000 fans. Assuming per person spending of $50 (ticket, parking, concessions, swag), higher attendance generates over $8 million in added revenues. On the other hand, you have to reduce that gain by about half due to losing post-season receipts. But if the club expects attendance in 2014 to remain at least constant and Joey Votto and the boys to earn a few October gates, the front office is looking at a healthy new chunk o’ change.

As I’ve written in detail, the Reds will also begin to receive nearly $25 million more in national television revenues this year, tens of millions more from digital platforms, enhanced revenue sharing and soon a lucrative new local media contract.

Put all of that expected revenue together with the Castellini family’s rock solid commitment to investing new cash streams back into the team and the Reds could have a payroll of $160 million by 2017. And that’s actually a conservative estimate, because they’ll have to put a bit of the new money into other aspects of the team beside payroll.

That $22 million bump in payroll from 2012 to 2013?

I believe it’s explained by ownership recognizing that money is pouring into major league baseball and the Reds will see their ample share. The new spending last season was them acting quickly on that realization. And if that’s true, there’s more to come.

When the budget scolds in the local media claim the Reds “don’t have the money” for upgrades to the roster, don’t buy it. They said that last year, too. Besides, this is a great time of year to talk about spending other people’s money.

No, the payroll won’t remain anywhere near $107 million. It can keep rising, maybe by as much as $15 million a season for a few more years – giving Walt Jocketty the room for a few wily and expensive maneuvers.

104 thoughts on “The Reds aren’t finished increasing payroll

  1. Well a trading partner for Phillips is gone with the blockbuster tonight. Kinda leaves the Dodgers as the one team that would want Phillips…

    I am loving this extra cap room. I am guessing a TV deal in the near future will assist too.

    Great to see attendance bringing in that money. I know for a fact I attended more games this year!

  2. Thanks, good summary of the financial situation and opportunity. I hope they step up and invest in at least two of their quality starters. They should sign a core group of their stars for longer deals to go along with Votto and Bruce for some stability and have places where they can work in their emerging draft picks.
    This Hamilton to 2B talk is intriguing.
    The blockbuster trade tonight is a sign of things to come.

  3. I’d like to see the Reds invest wisely and sign their best pitchers. This $5 million here, $11 million there for spare outfielders isn’t exactly causing me to get giddy.

    The only way a Phillips trade benefits the Reds is if they get somebody who is a better hitter than Choo. If we wait for a young guy to mature into a quality 2B, then we should back up the truck and unload the logjam in LF and get somebody who can hit. Can’t have our outfielders hitting like shortstops unless the shortstop hits like an outfielder.

    I will endure Billy Hamilton if he can somehow steal first base.

    But PLEASE, this pitching staff has to work.

    Replacing Choo **and** Phillips with Schumaker would be a head-scratcher.

  4. Good article. I always love it when the local media does a story on how the Reds have no more money to spend, it seems like within days the payroll grows. Like you said in the article, there is more revenue than the ticket price, but Fay and company always seem to just count average ticket price. There also has been growth in sponsorships and merchandise, the radio network expanded.

    Even taking away that growth, payroll is not the entire budget, payroll is only one section of an overall budget that includes development, capital improvements, scouting ect. The team could easily shift dollars from another part of the budget to payroll for a couple of years to bridge to the new tv contract from another part of the budget, or other parts of the budget may have been high for a couple of years for a specific reason and now that has been achieved and those dollars are available elsewhere.

  5. Having the money to spend or not, I would still like to see the Reds spend wisely. I can understand having a couple of big names signed. But, then, I would like to see more deals that make sense. Like with BP, I felt we overpaid by just a bit. I was thinking $10 million per, we gave $12 million per. I was thinking letting go of Ludwick. But, I do believe we got a good discount from him.

    Some of this may not even be done until after ST. As in, if Chapman shows he is ready to start, and we go with Cingrani as well, we may be looking at trading a starter at that time.

    But, if we shed any payroll in one move to make room for others, I can’t help thinking we are looking at BP, Bailey, maybe Cueto and/or Ludwick. But, if any of those we shed, we have to have someone to put into their places.

    I still believe, if Walt is doing something, it’s going to involve something like, only as an example as well as very general, trading BP for a starting 2nd as some sort of package, whether a 2 or 3 team deal. I’m not saying to trade BP. Just saying, if we trade off our 2nd baseman, I believe Walt would be looking to bring in a 2nd baseman, or whatever position. Why do that? To save money for some payroll flexibility, especially if the player we bring in is cheaper.

  6. like steveschoen said, Reds still need to spend wisely. Is Choo signing a wise spend? Also part of that spending wisely is reds figuring out who to extend among the starting pitchers which is no surprise revelation. Even if Reds do trade BP, they still need to figure out how to improve RH hitting. Hopefully some of that improvement will come from Frazier and Mesoraco being in thier 3rd year, getting regular playing time and been around the MLB block now twice. Gvien the surprise trade of Prince and Kinsler, with no leaks, i guess anything can happen. I feel like Schmaker deal was made to set up a platoon somewhere for Reds, (2B or CF?), and some trade is being worked on by Walt to improve the Reds, and not only to just get rid of BP for whatever reason.

    BTW anyone watch Clubhouse Confidential last few nights? They evalutated Choo vs Elsbury and who to pick. They had the SABR prez on and he picked Choo because he felt Choo’s hit skill would stay longer. The other guys went with Elsbury because of his D in CF and his speed on basepaths and considered Choo to be a corner OF. All said it was a tough call and choice influenced by what a team would need.

  7. As usual, great analysis. Also, I especially liked this because it reminded me that Bob seems to be firmly committed to winning. Given that, I’m guessing the payroll will, indeed, continue to increase.

    Now, in which ways the payroll will increase is another matter altogether. Will Bob lock up Latos and Bailey (I would the former and not the latter) with a long-term deal? . . . Is it time to extend Bruce out even further (I say an emphatic yes, given it is another team-friendly deal)? . . . If Mesoraco has a solid year, will Walt pull a Tampa Bay and sign him to a low-ball deal that buys out arbitration and the first couple (or three) of free agent years (if Mesoraco produces, I say go for it)? . . . These are the kinds of deals that could potentially even open more relative payroll space in subsequent years. Couple that with the outfield help that is seemingly coming up through the minors, the extra picks that come from Choo, Bailey, Cueto (if he warrants a QO), and even Chapman as well as an astute free agent signing here and there, and I don’t think the “window” closes anytime soon for our Reds.

    Thanks for the encouraging analysis! . . .

  8. Great analysis Steve. Call me crazy, but I think the Hamilton to 2b move could have legs. When you consider our best 3 hitting prospects are all outfielders and Bruce has RF locked down for years to come, it leaves Billy without a position. So taken in that context, you don’t have to move Phillips for another second baseman, but rather a position of need, which could be 3B (SuperTodd becomes supersub)or OF.

    I don’t get the assumption Xavier Paul is on the outs. Heisey didn’t even OPS .700 last year. He’s the guy who should be worried that Schumaker will take his starts in CF. With Paul (.741 OPS in 2013, >.800 in 2012), you have a serviceable platoon in LF. Heisey is a square peg.

  9. I am frequently reminded when I re-fuel my car that the price of gasoline keeps going up but the miles per gallon that my car delivers doesn’t change.

    If the Reds are going to offload BP and hope they can get relief by looking in an alley somewhere, that is only going to set this team back.

    Giving up consistent infield defense because the owner is P-O’d that the guy made some rash comments … I mean, get over it. The objective, as pointed out, is to win and if Bob wants to win, he keeps Phillips.

    Billy Hamilton is NO Phillips at 2B and Skip Schumaker is a spare part. Pretending he is any sort of a fix is totally bizarre.

    Find out what Choo is going to make and offer him a 2-year deal that’s identical. You bought 2 years. If you still don’t sign him, put Hamilton in CF where he belongs.

    Eventually everybody will get too old to win.

    Right now, scraping together a mish-mash team is not working. Moving Frazier to left, Cozart to 2B, trading Hanigan to get whatever as a backup catcher, and keeping another dozen platoon-quality left fielders … intriguing. You need a BAT in left field, not a bunch of .229 hitters who can’t OPS at .600.

    And sign good pitchers, not a bunch of Manny Parras who somehow got lightning in a bottle and deluded us into thinking they were actually useful.

    • @Johnu1:

      Man, who peed on your Cheerios this morning? John you need to accept the fact that BP is as gone as gone gets. BP is outta here. Accept it. Get over it. Move on. The Reds can win 90+ games without BP.
      Granted, a big RH bat is needed. No question about that. And as far as Parra goes, I sure would like to have him back in the bullpen in 2014.

      • @WVRedlegs: I never thought I’d see the following phrase, in print, on this blog “And as far as Parra goes, I sure would like to have him back in the bullpen in 2014.”

        I bring back Parra on the right deal. He was very, very good last year and I don’t think it was smoke and mirrors. His stuff has always played. If the Reds can get him in on a 2-year deal at the right price point, I think it’s worth doing.

        I am not sure it’s a forgone conclusion that BP is gone. I don’t think WJ trades him just to dump him. He’d need to get some value in return, even if he has to send $$ to the partner team in the deal. If he can’t get the value he wants out of BP, he won’t move him. The Kinsler deal may make a team come out of the woodwork on BP. Kinsler is a fine player but not a world-beater and he’ll be 32 next year. So yes, I think that BP is gone but in my mind it isn’t 100% done until it’s actually done.

        For the record, I don’t see Hamilton playing 2B. I saw him play a handful of games at SS and I’ve also seen his error rate at SS. It was all ugly. I don’t think he has the hands or footwork for the infield. I think he can be a plus defender in CF however. He looked good out there to two times I got to see him. His closing speed is so good that even when he doesn’t get a good jump, he still gets where he needs to.

        @Johnu1 – I don’t know what you’re getting at on your 2-years and Choo line. I do know that Choo isn’t signing a 2-year deal. Is that what you are saying or am I misunderstanding? I also think the Reds have better than a group of guys in LF who can’t OPS .600. They don’t have the sticks out there I want however unless Ludwick can return at close to his 2012 incarnation. That’s a huge gamble and I think that WJ will bring someone in as insurance. I thought that someone would be McLouth but with the Schumaker signing, I am not seeing that anymore.

        • @LWBlogger: Yeah, me, the biggest Manny Parra hater on this blog at one point now hopes he comes back as well. Bryan Price/Ted Power figured something out. When he did, Parra became a lights out, back of the bullpen, don’t you dare take this guy home to your momma nasty.

      • @WVRedlegs: I don’t eat cheerios, and I agree with John. BP may be gone, but the Reds will almost certainly be the worse for it. 90 wins without him? Only if they are able to make a few major and shockingly one-sided trades. They are probably losing Choo, too, (unintentional rhyme), remember, and will be even more offensively challenged than they were last year.

    • d sign good pitchers, not a bunch of Manny Parras who somehow got lightning in a bottle and deluded us into thinking they were actually useful.

      Not sure about this. Despite what I said below, I’d rather have cheap relievers, because the team will be comfortable dumping them when they stink. Sign a “good pitcher” like J. Broxton, and you get to watch him suck for multiple years.

      • @Chris Garber: Cheap is right on situational relievers. But I am not a believer in the situational reliever, so my comment is reflected in that peculiar point of view. I believe in getting good pitchers, period. Good pitchers who can pitch. Not guys who can’t pitch to righthanders, or who can’t pitch in day games with the wind blowing out, or two days in a row or who have only 39 pitches left in their magazine.

        Parra was all right, adequate for his role a year ago. I don’t like roles. Signing situational relief pitchers to 2-year contracts is folly, though I realize that will never change. (I doubt Price will ask for my opinion, which is why we have these blogs.)

        Teams sign middle relievers to deceive the fans into believing they fixed the pitching problem, when the reality was, they couldn’t find a decent rotation guy.

        These platoon guys are necessary, I concede. Nobody has 15 all-stars on their big roster. A Hannahan is useful and part of the process.

        I think where I’m at here, is that I am seeing a lot of suggestions on how to make the Reds better, using Schumaker as part of the equation. It’s been suggested we move Frazier to LF. He’s a great 3B. Anybody can play LF. Hamilton is the Reds CF, not a 2B.

        Phillips being traded? I honestly hope not. I think that would be bad strategy.

        And the Broxton contract was awful. Another 2-year deal for a situational relief pitcher. (Sigh.)

        • @Johnu1: I think we’re saying the same thing. My position on relievers, for time immemorial, is this: Don’t pay for them. Relatively speaking, relief pitching is easy. Very few guys are excellent relievers for more than 2-3 years — and (Rivera aside) even those guys aren’t much better than the off-the-shelf guys. Just scout well, and have lots of arms on hand. Young fireballers like Hoover, retreads with promise like Parra, castoffs like Simon… etc.

    • @Johnu1: John, I disagree with your take on Manny Parra.

      Manny Parra was worth what they paid for him in 2013. And he is worth more now after working with Bryan Price. He and Marshall also allow Chapman to go to the rotation, so his value increases beyond what they will actually pay him.

      Given your logic, we would not have signed Alfredo Simon and his 2.87 ERA in 2013 and 2.66 ERA in 2012

      Both Parra and Simon are “lightning in a bottle” and I am not deluded to their actual contributions. They would both be on my staff for 2014

  10. Joe Sheehan’s excellent newsletter touched on this topic yesterday. Basically, his premise is that the rapid growth in revenue has outpaced spending — as a portion of revenue, MLB is currently paying out less than the other pro sports leagues. That will change. To the tune of an additional $300-500M that “should” be going to players. And “This doesn’t even factor in the ability to borrow against ever-rising franchise values (or RSN values) to generate cash.”

    Joe argues that this is upended the entire model for valuing players, evaluating moves, etc. “The combination of so much extra cash combined with so little talent becoming freely available — due to teams locking up the best players in baseball long-term through their peaks — means that there isn’t much opportunity cost to spending.”

    “The money doesn’t matter. It’s not about whether the marginal cost of a win on the free-agent market is five million bucks or $7 million or $13 million; it’s about that framework no longer being the way to evaluate signings. The extra dollars a team might spend to bring a player into the fold — and turn a contract from a sabermetric win to a sabermetric loss — are meaningless in the big picture because there’s just no other good application of those dollars.”

    Basically, he’s saying that you shouldn’t ask whether the Marlon Byrd or Chooch Ruiz deals “make sense” or “are good deals.” It’s that the deals should be evaluated strictly as baseball deals — are these guys going to help you win. Costs be damned.

    This changes how the Reds — and other clubs — look at Brandon Phillips. Maybe he doesn’t have a “bad contract.” He’s just a guy on the decline, but who still has significant value. Trade him because he’s a jerk, but you can get value. It also means that you pay Shin-Soo Choo whatever he wants.

    • @Chris Garber: It’s how Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum, and Tim Hudson get the deals from the Giants that they got. Teams don’t seem to be playing “moneyball” at the moment. They are spending it like they have it.

    • @Chris Garber:

      “…meaningless in the big picture because there’s just no other good application of those dollars.”

      I have not read the article but i think this statement could be argued against. The $$$ could be spent on more scouting, more developement, signing your own young players to longer deals.

      • I have not read the article but i think this statement could be argued against. The $$$ could be spent on more scouting, more developement, signing your own young players to longer deals.

        To a degree. The point is that there’s SO much money that those aren’t real tradeoffs. How many scouts can you hire? How many young players are worth locking up? The new scarcity is 8 — how many positions you have on the field. There’s no advantage to making a commitment to say, Z. Cozart, if you’re not sure he’s actually going to be starting in 3 years.

        In a way, this reminds me of Warren Buffett’s investing delemma — he has SO much money that he can’t find any place to put it. Anything with upside is too small to move the needle for him. Anything big enough doesn’t have upside.

  11. Bailey seems like the right pitcher to trade. With his general stats and the fact he has two no-hitters in two years, he has ever appearance of a #1. There is one year left of team control. He will receive close to 9-10 million in arbitration. And finally he doesn’t seem likely to want to stay in Cincinnati.

    I read an interesting article this morning at Rays Bay that showed an interesting chart of value from trading Starting Pitchers.

    Article here: http://www.draysbay.com/2013/11/21/5118418/trade-involving-starting-pitchers-surplus-value-david-price

    I looked at pitchers comparable to Homer Bailey and analyzed what was traded back in value. Many came with in the same one year situation as Bailey. Each received a haul of 2-4 prospects and many returned a pretty good ML player as well.

    The key to improving the team my rest with Homer Bailey.

    • @TC: This only really works if the Reds are sure of Chapman in the rotation. Also, I don’t actively shop Bailey although if someone offered me a really big score for him and if Chapman is going to be in the rotation, I would bite. I agree with what you’re saying for the most part but Steve M. had some very good arguments for why Leake may be the better trade candidate. I guess it would depend on how valuable that extra year of team control would be versus how much someone would like an ace on the staff for one year. There is also the fact that some teams may try to extend Bailey immediately after trading for him. I hate trading away starting pitching though, and Bailey may be more valuable for the Reds this year than what they’d get back, at least for the 2014 season.

      • @LWBlogger: I completely agree with everything you said. I guess I’m looking at relevant value. Teams are overpaying for pitching right now, specially with #1s and #2s, even if it is just for one year. I agree they shouldn’t shop him, but they could let it out that they are willing to entertain offers and see what happens. If the team wishes to improve hitting in 2014 AND perhaps keep the window open a few years longer, Bailey might be able to provide the team with that value.

        The key is not in the number of prospects in return, but the quality of maybe one prospect they get.

        (BTW – Looking at the article, the Reds made the worst deal to Chicago trading Wood and a prospect for one year of Marshall.)

        • @TC:

          (BTW – Looking at the article, the Reds made the worst deal to Chicago trading Wood and a prospect for one year of Marshall.)

          I absolutely love Marshall, but yet another example of the Reds over-valuing and over-paying for relief pitching.

        • @Shchi Cossack: I think the thought of many here, myself included (and I believe Marshall as well) was that Sean was going to be the closer, which would have made sense. Then we signed Madsen. Then Madsen got hurt. Then Dusty hated Marshall. Hello, Chappy.

        • @TC: Agreed on the Marshall trade. I love Marshall but trading a guy would could start for a setup reliever isn’t the kind of move I’d like to see the Reds making. Wood has proven to be an effective starter now and even if he hadn’t, I’m pretty sure his stuff would have played in the ‘pen. I think the Reds could have gotten more value out of him. Heck, Marshall failed as a starter and has excelled as a reliever. We also may be seeing the same thing from Parra.

  12. Well, well, well…quite an intersting development in the overnight with the Tigers filling their need at 2B with Kinsler. With that development, the market for Infante probably immediately softened. What if WJ stepped in NOW! and locked up Infante on a $21MM for 3 years contract with a team option for $7MM and a $1MM buyout on the 4th year? That leaves Cano and no one else available as a FA 2B capable of starting for a contender. That probably enhances the FA market for Cano and the trade market for Phillips.

    • @Shchi Cossack: Oh man. It’s a bit of a gamble they will find a partner for Phillips. (Although if they don’t trade Phillips they’d still have an excellent, if not expensive, backup at 2nd and SS.)

    • @Shchi Cossack: Think of the versatility created with Schumaker, Frazier and Infante. The Reds wouldn’t need an over-paid, under-producing backup SS on the major league roster. HenRod would have a roster spot at league minimum. Heisey and/or XP would be gone. BP would be gone. With the cost savings, Choo roams CF at GABP for 2014 and moves over to LF for 2015+. I think Infante/BP productively are a wash with Infante being 1 year younger and cheaper. The pitching staff remains intact unless someone really wants to come after Bailey or Leake with a serious, Reds-friendly offer.

    • @Shchi Cossack: Honestly, I think Infante will get 2 years and a team option for a third, with an average annual value somewhere in the $10-million/year range.

      • Are we talking about Omar Infante, the guy who’s been essentially a full-time starter the last 3 years? The guy who just before that was an All-Star as a back-up for the Braves? Going to a bench position? Sorry, this guy isn’t going to anywhere near a bench position. There is one team out there going to make him a regular player. Now, if we are talking about him being our starting 2nd baseman. Then, yes, I could see that.

        • @steveschoen:

          Now, if we are talking about him being our starting 2nd baseman.

          That’s exactly what we’re talking about. The Reds get a starting 2B who can backup SS. Schumaker becomes a utility OF/2B & LH PH. The Reds save significant salary at 2B for the next 4 years while maintaining equal production and defense at 2B. The bench is further upgraded by not employing a non-productive utility SS. Then WJ goes out and reels Choo in.

  13. Speculation only.

    C Ryan Hanigan and RP Logan Ondrusek to Texas for OF Craig Gentry. C and RP are a need for TEX.

    On BP, as each day passes the waters get a little murkier. I still think Atlanta, but Seattle might be a player. It’d be a shrewd move to get Seattle’s Nick Franklin for BP and whatever else. Maybe Heisey. Or either a SP, or a SP prospect like Rogers or Contreras, or cash. I’ve seen Franklin mentioned once or twice before on here. He’d nail down the 2B job for the next 5 years at a great cost/value for the Reds.

      • @reaganspad:

        Yes he is. But can he be obtained? Some reports say he can be. I’d pay the price because it might seem steep at first. But in the long run the Reds would come out nicely too. Seattle is looking for veteran bats and BP fits. And I would include any pitching prospect not named Stephenson that Seatlle would want. If I’m WJ that is the deal that I’m working hardest on.

        • @WVRedlegs: If I’m Seattle’s GM, I’d say “Package BP and cash with Leake or Bailey and we’ll talk. I want a Major-League arm if I’m moving Franklin.”

        • @LWBlogger:Ummmm, am I looking at the right Nick Franklin’s stats?

          1.) Brandon Phillips
          2.) Mike Leake
          3.) Cash

          FOR a rookie with these numbers:

          PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
          412 38 83 20 1 12 45 6 1 42 113 .225 .303 .382 .686 96

          Gracious!

        • @TC: Which is what a good GM should say when I make those demands. :-)

          To which I counter “He’s 22, playing in the show, costs me almost nothing, and slashed .271/.358/.435 at Tacoma over 473 PA. He’s going to get better and BP is in decline.” Of course being the shrewd GM I am, I’d listen to counters. Ha! This is fun!

        • @LWBlogger: Baseball America had him ranked as the #79 prospect pre-2013. His minor league numbers, while respectable, are not impressive.

          Minor League numbers:
          BA: .287
          OBP: .360
          SLG: .459
          OPS: .819
          46 HRs over 5 seasons
          63 Stolen bases over 5 seasons.

          This isn’t Mike Trout.

        • @TC: Interesting side note… Franklin is prominently featured in a book about a year an author spent with a Class A team in Iowa… “Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere” by Lucas Mann.

        • @TC:

          TC
          He improves at each level he has been promoted to.
          2010 A .281/.351/.485
          2011 A+ .275/.356/.411
          2012 AA .322/.394/.502
          AAA .243/.310/.416
          2013 AAA .324/.440/.472
          MLB .225/.303/.382

          He’ll only be 23 next March. He is an OBP machine, to bat ahead of Votto and hopefully Choo, still. I think he’ll make all the adjustments at the MLB level to succeed. Very good defensively too.

        • If I’m Seattle’s GM, I’d say “Package BP and cash with Leake or Bailey and we’ll talk. I want a Major-League arm if I’m moving Franklin.”

          And if I’m Walt Jocketty I’d say, [click].

        • @TC: Ha ha!! Nice! Maybe I’m off-base but I just think I’d have trouble moving a 22-year old who cost me nothing for a declining veteran playing the same position and making a decent chunk of money.

        • @LWBlogger: Unless, unless, unless I thought that player could put me into contention in 2014. Is BP that player for Seattle?

    • He’d nail down the 2B job for the next 5 years at a great cost/value for the Reds.

      If that’s what he costs up front, then he provides no value at all.

    • @WVRedlegs: Craig Gentry would actually be nice. Do you realize he stole 24 bases last year while only being thrown out 3 (YES 3!) times. Unreal.

      Nice OBP, team control for 3 years.

      • @TC:

        Yes, 24 steals in only 246 AB’s. 39 runs. A .280 BA and .373 OBP. What could he produce in 500 AB’s?? He plays a very good defensive CF. Only 2 errors last year. He can also play the other OF positions.
        Leonys Martin is Texas’s full time CF, so he could be gotten, in my opinion. Texas is looking for a C and relief pitching (Hanigan and ???). And a big bat if they don’t re-sign Nelson Cruz. It looks like Gentry will always be a 4th or 5th OF for them. He could be a starting CF with the Reds, if they do not re-sign Choo. Always looking out for those good OBP players.

  14. Who are the realistic partners for Phillips? Hard to say, but while Atlanta seems like a natural fit, to get Uggla back would be disastrous. I do not care what his metrics were throughout his career, he is terrible defensively and can no longer hit. The Reds have made some pretty bad trades but this would go down as one of their worst all time. The Braves made one of the all time worst deals to get him in the first place and now they are praying for anyone to take him off their hands at any price and Phillips would have to bring a lot more than Uggla. Tampa is not going to trade Zobrist to Cincy for an older player, The Cubs, Tigers, Brewers, Dodgers, Angels, Rangers, Giants, Phillies, Pirates, Cards, Red Sox, Yankees, all seem unlikely at best. My best guess would be that if a trade happens it will be a multi team trade or someone we do not see coming.

    I am still of the opinion that the kids are going to be promoted soon and that taking on any player in LF, or 2B would only block the kids from progressing. At AAA this year could be Yorman, Barnhart, Rogers, Earvin, Stephenson, Corcino, and Hamilton. All of them may be ready for the majors in 2014, but certainly by 2015, so unless you get something really good you This would not be wise in my opinion.

    • @redmountain: Personally, I think the Braves are out because of Uggla. Nobody, not even the Yankees, would want that albatross of a contract. If I was a NL GM I’d try to keep that millstone around the neck of an otherwise talented Atlanta team.

      Without Atlanta being able to dump Uggla, I don’t thing they’ll deal for Phillips.

  15. @Steve Mancuso Just curious– how much do we owe non-roster players right now? I know that we are on the hook for Dusty and I think we have cash going to Arroyo and others, including birthday boy Griffey Jr. Any idea how that stacks up?

    • @Farney: I could be wrong about this, but I think the main reason the services have varying estimates of payroll is that they treat the deferred money differently. Cot’s, for example, shows Bronson as being paid $16 million in 2013. It looks to me like that includes all of his deferred money. Maybe that’s how they show it in the budget (and also why the out of pocket expenses for the Reds in 2013 might not have been the full $107 million. Good question.

  16. Steve Mancuso and LW-pretty much my list, now do any of those teams have something they would part with that the Reds need? Mets? Pitching? Braves? A couple of prospects or second line pitchers? Royals and Cubs are supposed to have lots of prospects. Blue Jays-Pitching. Giants?-cant think of anyone. White Sox?-Maybe, but are they willing to trade Quentin? Good Luck Walt!

  17. Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal says the Cards are in serious negotiations with the LA Angels that would send the Cards’ 3B David Freese to LAA. It didn’t say what the Cards are getting. Wasn’t Freese their hometown World Series hero a couple of years ago? Does this signal that Beltran won’t be back in STL? What are the Cards up to?

    • @WVRedlegs: The name I’ve seen mentioned is CF Peter Bourjos. Mike Trout could move to CF for LAA. The Cardinals could move Matt Carpenter back to 3B and play Kolton Wong at 2B. Bourjos would mostly be right-handed OF depth for St. Louis. As you say, Freese’s stock has dropped off a lot with the Cardinals.

      • @Steve Mancuso:

        I was fearful that it was Trumbo. It would take moe than Freese to get him, but they have pitching to include, and that is exactly what LAA is looking for. Bourjos makes sense for them. I forgot they were looking for help in CF. Their CF, Jay, has taken a couple steps backwards too, like Freese.

  18. This is probably crazy talk but if I buy in to the premise of this article… is there any chance the Reds could make a run at Robinson Cano (assuming they could unload BP’s salary and maybe Hanigan also to the Yankees)… it seems feasible… I mean half measures avail. you nothing, if you are going to lose a good 2B mine as well upgrade in the process. That makes losing Choo a lot more tolerable. And it creates a trade partner for BP. There was an article on MLB.com saying the Yankees might win Cano by default, there is no one left to get in a bidding war with… it seems to me we need a 2B and we could fill that void and create demand for Phillips in the same maneuvre. Probably wishful thinking, but you are saying Walt has something up his sleeve.. that sure would be exciting, wouldn’t it?

    • @Cincinnati Reds Video Poker: yep, sure sounds exciting but i really doubt Reds want to have another 8yr/$200M contract on payroll. Its one thing for Reds to kinda stretch to fit Choo in, Cano is quite another level. Even teams with deeper pockets than Reds, ie Tigers and Red Sox, recently unloaded big contract deals because its hindering them to address gaps on the teams or sign other important team stars. The Yanks know they have to keep Cano and likely will outspend anyone trying to get him. At least thats my take on it.

  19. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Cardinals have acquired Peter Bourjos from the Angels.
    David Freese is presumably headed to Anaheim in the deal, though Rosenthal hasn’t confirmed that part yet. The Freese-for-Bourjos rumor started on Thursday and it appears the deal is complete, though other players are expected to be involved. Bourjos sports a .251/.306/.398 career batting line and missed much of 2013 due to injury, but he’s an elite defensive center fielder. He figures to get plenty of playing time in center field in 2014.

  20. Jim Bowden is loosing it, why not add Jay Bruce and Joey Votto into this trade for a catcher who we don’t need. I will keep Meso, thanks:

    “If the Orioles don’t sign another catcher, they might be interested in a package of Phillips and young catcher Devin Mesoraco. Phillips has hit 18 home runs in each of the last four seasons and his Gold Glove defense would improve an already stellar defense. Mesoraco should develop into an above-average receiver.

    They also might target starting pitcher Homer Bailey. Bailey could be available because he’s a free agent after 2014. Or Baltimore might decide to go younger and cheaper and acquire a top starting pitching prospect such as Robert Stephenson or Tony Cingrani.”

    • @reaganspad: For Wieters? WHY?!? Jeez, that’s a trade I hope doesn’t happen. There would need to be top prospects coming back from the Orioles for that to work. If Bowden would’ve made that trade as the Reds GM… well, there’s a reason he’s out of baseball now.

    • @reaganspad: I love Matt Wieters but I’m not sure that Mesoraco couldn’t put up similar offensive numbers. The thing though, is that Wieters had a down year last year and is a very good defensive catcher. The kicker for me would be the extra year of team control that Mes has over Wieters. I don’t know, I’d at least ponder BP and Mes for Wieters. There is no way the O’s get a pitcher in the deal though… The trade makes more sense if Walt doesn’t think that Mesoraco can be the everyday catcher. I would disagree and view such a move as the Reds being desperate to trade BP.

  21. I have to wonder sometimes if Sean Marshall and maybe even Sam LeCure are being sold short as relievers. I’m not so sure with their stuff and use of multiple pitches that they could not start. Marshall even looked at one point like he might be a decent starter, the Cubs were loaded and he ended up in the bullpen and they never looked back. LeCure got into the bigs because the bullpen was where the Reds needed arms. I’m not so sure with how he attacks the strike zone he might be effective enough to be a back of the rotation starter.

    Just because these two have been relievers, doesn’t mean they have to be used this way. I think Marshall especially has enough of a fastball with that curve seems to me to be the kind of mix a starter would need.

    • @earl: A wholestaff approach to pitching could easily convert Marshall, Simon, LeCure and Parra into occasional starters. It could give Leake some innings in slop relief. The notion of pitchers in slotted roles is going to change. It has to change. Pitchers are being bought and sold for the wrong reasons, to managers like Dusty Baker who are dinosaurs. The bullpen has to be a team’s 6th starter. Marshall is fully capable of pitching a shutout.

    • @earl: Yes Marshall was a decent young starting pitcher who was expected to improve. He’s capable of starting.

      In any case, with Price as the new manager, I expect to see a lot more creative thinking about pitchers’ roles. I liked it when Bronson Arroyo said something like: “Price doesn’t buy into a lot of standard but irrelevant thinking when he makes decisions.”

      • @pinson343: I guess what flipped me last summer was a comment in the Reds TV booth about how some of the pitchers were pitching outside their roles. LeCure was one … how the injuries to Broxton and Marshall had forced these guys to pitch in innings that weren’t what they were supposed to pitch.

        I got to thinking … what? If I am a relief pitcher, just give me the ball and point me toward the catcher. I should figure it out after that. I don’t care what inning it is.

        • @Johnu1: Yep. Making a big deal about moving from usually pitching the 7th vs. usually pitching the 8th, for example, is dumb but widely stated. The “having the bullpen lined up” thing has just gotten out of hand.

          Ron Robinson once complained about not knowing what his bullpen role was. Pete Rose’s reply: “Your role is to pitch when I give you the ball.”

    • @earl: If say both Chapman and Cingrani start next year, they are going to have to make up some appearances from them as neither one are going to be able to probably start more than 20 games or so I would figure with innings limitations.

      It’s a bit of a stretch with Sean Marshall coming off injury, but I have thought for a couple of years even when he was with the Cubs he had skills that seemed a bit wasted in the bullpen. The guy reminds me quite a bit of Ted Lilly in style.

  22. The Bourjos-Freese trade is a good one for the Cardinals I think. Their one weakness last year was defense (other than Molina), and they’ve just upgraded their DEFENSE at 3 positions. Bourjos is a big upgrade over Jay in CF. Carpenter is better at 3rd base than at 2nd and he’ll be better than the 2013 bad back version of Freese. And with Kolten Wong taking over at 2nd, another upgrade there.

    If they get Tulo, ugh, that would be killer news.

    • @pinson343: I’ve been hoping Tulo to the Reds was the big blockbuster WJ has brewing :)

      As long as they don’t send Votto, Bruce, or more than 1 MLB/ AAA (i.e. Stephenson) level starting pitcher for him, acquiring Tulo would set the Reds up well.

      When a person looks at what the Cards are doing, it underscores that the Reds have to upgrade one of the left side IF spots as well as LF and at least maintain the combined 2013 capability they got from 2B and CF.

      • @OhioJim: this is where I think the BP spat with Reds mgmt/owners, if really true as being bad as reported, has hurt Reds by having to spend time/energy figuring out a way to trade him instead of concentrating on adding an OF bat. If Walt and his minions have to spend time as well on figuring what options are to replace BP when any other time an organization really would not be wasting time on that.

        Regardng a Tulo deal, as nice to as it would be to think about how perfect it would fix Reds lineup, I would think that is just as remote possibility as the speculation for Cano mentioned earlier. Though Tulo’s remaining $134M thru age 35 be much easier to digest than trying to take on Cano’s minimum $200M+ thru his age 38 (or more $$ and age).

  23. Looks like the WLB’s are serious about improving. Acquiring Bourjos, and it looks like they may ghet Jhonnyh hPheraltah too.

    I hope Walt is working on something.

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