For the record, there seems to be plenty of interest in Cincinnati’s prime free agents. Specifically, I’m talking about Bronson Arroyo and Shin-Soo Choo.

The Twins, Giants, and Phillies are reported to be kicking the tires on Arroyo (not literally; Arroyo doesn’t actually have tires). I’m still firmly of the conviction that the Reds should have made a qualifying offer to Arroyo. I certainly understand Cincinnati’s perspective on that decision, however, and it’s completely reasonable. I’m just afraid the Reds are going to be thin in the rotation in 2014 if anyone gets injured.

Shin-Soo Choo, of course, is represented by super-agent Scott Boras. As expected, Boras is looking to break someone’s bank:

I’d be very surprised if Choo can command that kind of money, but if that’s the neighborhood we’re looking at, the Reds are out of the picture. And if Choo can get a Werth-type deal, more power to him, and I wish him the best of luck.

More analysis:

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at

Join the conversation! 52 Comments

  1. I agree with you Chad that the Reds starting rotation could get a little thin, but rather than signing Arroyo for $14.4MM via a qualifying offer, I would much prefer the Reds to sign anoth FA SP: Hudson, Feldman or even Burnett. I believe Arroyo would have been a bad bet for 2014 with his propensity for giving up the long ball at GABP. I think any of the 3 FA pitchers mentioned can be had at less than $14MM and would be a better (if not excellent) fit for GABP and none are linked to compensation. Since the Bocos have apparently opted to not pursue Burnett unless he offers an extraordinarily HUGE discount, I would really like to see Burnett pitching at GABP in 2014. Of course he has to still decide if he is retiring.

  2. A lot of the teams looking at Choo, are also looking at Beltran, Cruz, Granderson and Ellsbury. Any of those OF that choose to hold out for the BIG payday (can you Boras) may find the offers diminishing after the teams with the cash to spend and willingness to deal with the compensation pick, spend their money elsewhere. Since Choo has not signed yet, I don’t think Cincinati has any shot at signing him unless the market for Choo starts collapsing due to Boras’ greed.

  3. C Trent had an Arroyo piece on over the weekend. In the article, Arroyo plainly stated that he would’ve taken the $14.1 qualifying offer.

    I’m not suggesting Arroyo isn’t worth $14.1 million (perhaps he is). But it’s not worth Reds giving it to him. They’ve got better pitchers who are arbitration eligible, and they’ve got good young pitchers under team control. If you’re going to allocate finite financial resources, pitching, in my opinion, is not where the 2014 Reds need to do it.

    • @walshjp:

      From C Trent’s piece:

      “I enjoy playing for that organization and with those guys, so yeah, I probably would have taken it,” Arroyo said, noting he’d use the entire five days to see what was out there, but wouldn’t expect it to be better than the one-year, $14.1 million deal.

      • @walshjp: Thanks for that information. Hindsight seems to confirm that the Reds made the right decision. They were getting Arroyo if the offered, not a draft pick. I am sure the front office had a pretty good idea of Arroyo’s leanings too.

        The Yankees made a qualifying offer to Granderson, I believe. The Reds will need to be creative regarding the outfield this off season or it could become a large offensive liability.

    • @walshjp: Nice catch. I need to publicly state how wrong I was about this. Previously, Arroyo had been fairly adamant about wanting a multi-year deal. Therefore, I thought the Reds had made a huge mistake giving up the compensation pick by not making a qualifying offer. As usual, there is a reason Walt Jocketty is the GM and I’m not. 😆

      Bronson is a good guy, an above average pithcer, a future Reds Hall of Famer, and would have provided significant depth to the rotation. However, I can’t see how any of that makes him worth $14+ million.

  4. If salaries were depended on a gold standard, such as WAR, perhaps even the average WAR from the previous three seasons at a rate of $5M per WAR, his salary would be $2.84M next year.

    I agree the Reds are thin at SP. But there is a bunch of value in FA this year. Arroyo should be a prime target in FA, but again, only if they can get him at or near his real value. If so, I’d LOVE, LOVE, LOVE me some Arroyo pitching.

    • @TC: Oops, I edited out the part where I said Arroyo should only be signed at his value before I said it again (which is still there.)

    • @TC: I don’t know TC, I count 6 starters with Stephenson arriving very soon if not the second half of 2014.

      I like Arroyo also, but I like Stephenson and Chapman a lot more. Those guys are both 1’s and would not get an opportunity with Bronson still in town.

      I like 4-5 number one pitchers in my staff. Reminds me of the 90’s Braves.

      I think we get plenty of staff improvement just by getting Marshall and Cueto healthy (and Broxton, forgot what his timeline is and also wonder if his surgery was something that has been coming on for a few years and if he can stablize).

      The only change I want to see in our staff is Cingrani and Chapman. We need lefthanders as starter.

      • @reaganspad: I like what you’re doing there.

      • @reaganspad: I also expect a return to form from Corcino and no one is talking about Chad Rogers, whose Ks are not high but he has a consistently low ERA. If he does it in AAA, he would also have to be considered a candidate. In a pinch, both LeCure and Hoover have experience as starters.

      • @reaganspad: I don’t believe that we can assume that Chapman and Stephenson are 1’s–they both have great arms, but are largely untested as mlb starters. I also have a bad feeling about healthy Cueto. I like him, he’s terrific when he’s not injured, but he seems to have recurring similar injuries, and that is a concerning pattern. I don’t think that it’s safe to assume that the Reds have enough pitching, though I certainly agree that they have other areas that need to be addressed.

  5. When did the Reds get “thin” in SP? I mean, We have a good starting 5 right now and its Nov., not to mention the possibility of the Cuban Missile moving in to the rotation. SP is not where the Reds will be focusing their efforts these next couple of weeks. Bronson deserves to be able to see about a 2 or 3 yr deal, this will most likely be his last chance at the big payday. I will miss him but wish him lots of luck.

  6. There is no doubt that losing a key rotation guy to injury would thin down the pitching.

    Two ways to counteract that: Upgrade the quality of the whole staff just another notch. Price seems to have that knack. That means better use of the bullpen to let the bullpen become, in effect, a 6th starter.

    Upgrade the *#*(#@ hitting so that the pitchers can make it through a rough outing.

    Which is why finding a sound replacement for Choo is vital.

    Gotta win 16 games a month. It doesn’t matter how good the starters are.

  7. I can’t help but think that because we’re in ‘win now’ mode that Leake is the guy on the outside of the rotation looking in at Chapman. With 2 years left on his deal, Leake would be a prime trade chip to a big ballpark club. The fact that Arroyo has so many teams interested in him speaks to the value of innings eaters around baseball. I think the decision about filling the holes in the outfield could hinge on trading Leake.

  8. One of the things that has been lost in baseball over the past 25 years or so is the role of the “swing man.” I think it’s important, and I have no idea why it’s gone out of style.

    How many teams make it through the year using 5 starters? Basically none. The Reds did it two seasons ago, and some other team did it a few years back, but basically none. So, with that understood, is 6 starters too many? No, you need that depth.

    The challenge is just managing that depth. I said all last spring training that the whole Leake vs Chapman thing was a false competition because they both should have been stretched out to start. One of them should have been the swing man. That guy pitches out of the bullpen, and doesn’t pitch on back to back days. But he comes in in the 5th or 6th inning and pitches 3+ innings. He’s a good pitcher, and it’s not just mop up work.

    Then, when Cueto got injured, you could have slid the other guy into the rotation without missing a beat. The Reds had Cingrani in AAA, and that was good, but it’s not always going to work out that well. See 2011.

    So to me, if the Reds start with Latos, Cueto, Bailey, Leake, Cingrani, Chapman, all prepared to be in the rotation, I think they are all likely to get a lot of innings, and that will be a great rotation.

    • @al: Whoa, you addressed my concerns to a tee. I knew having those 6 pitchers was a good thing, but was struggling to see how all 6 fit in without 1 starting in AAA (and let’s be honest, none of those guys deserves to be in AAA).

      I’m on board

      • @CincyGuy: Plenty of reasons to mature a pitching staff that is more versatile than the set patterns that everyone seems to have purchased. I am also on board with a wholestaff bullpen, a diminished need for a closer (for reasons that are obvious when observing Chapman down the stretch) and a group of starters who can throw 120 quality pitches, not all of them in the first 3 innings.

        How that works is to get a 3-run lead in the first inning. It makes a pitching staff much more flexible.

  9. How uncomfortable is Redsfest going to be for Brandon this year if he attends?

  10. I’d like to see the Reds sign a decent veteran pitcher to a one-year deal. Someone like Dan Haren or Paul Maholm. If Chapman moves to the rotation, he won’t be able to pitch an entire season due to innings limits (thanks to the mismanagement of his arm the past two seasons). I expect the Reds to try to trade one of the current starting pitchers, possibly Mike Leake, who is attractive because of two years of team control. Others see a case for trading Homer Bailey.

    I’d like to see this rotation heading into October: Latos, Bailey, Cueto, Cingrani and Chapman.

    But the Reds will need another SP along the way to account for Chapman’s part-time role and any injuries.

    If the market isn’t there for Arroyo, it’s possible the Reds might get back in on him for a one-year deal, closer to $10 million.

    • @Steve Mancuso: Could probably get Ryan Vogelsong for a bargain.

    • @Steve Mancuso: I like the idea of Haren on a one year $8-10 million deal. Look at Haren’s second half numbers from last year. I also thought I’d mention that Haren worked with Price in AZ, so assuming their relationship was good, maybe there’s some mutual interest there with Price taking over the helm. I think he could give you 90% of what you could reasonably expect from Bailey and would allow the Reds to seek a major offensive upgrade by shopping Homer.

  11. I love Choo, and I was a big fan of trading for him even before they did trade for him.. but that’s just too much money for a guy who just absolutely cant hit lefties. If we’re talking $126m, there has to be somewhere the Reds can spend less and get a guy who isn’t someone that should probably be platooned.

    • @ToddAlmighty: I’m not in favor of handing out a massive contract to Choo, but his splits versus lefties are far from the top reason why. Consider that his OBP against lefties (.347) was higher than the overall OBP of everyone else on the team not named Votto. It’s true that he doesn’t have the ability to hit lefties for power, but he’s far from completely incompetent against them. Plus, lefties only comprise about 20-25% of the SP population, so his exposure to them is somewhat limited.

  12. I’ll be shocked if Boras is able to get Choo that kind of deal. Virtually everyone in baseball views the Werth contract as a ridiculous overpay. I’d say $85 million/5 years will end up closer to reality.

  13. Just out of curiosity, what would you guys think of a Phillips for Uggla and La Stella trade, with the Braves picking up most of Uggla’s contract?

    Also, I don’t think the Reds should trade Phillips unless they get a haul (comparatively) for him. I think his numbers dropping, while a product of age, were also due to injury, much like Hanigan’s were. The caveat being if he actually is actively disrupting the clubhouse, or has demanded a trade. I just don’t think the Reds should trade him purely on emotions.

    • @rhayex: Also, this is coming from a guy who wanted Chapman, Hanigan, Arroyo, and Phillips traded at the deadline–not due to the place the Reds were in, but purely because I believed that the return would be greater than what they would contribute to the Reds. I think I also called for Broxton to be traded prior to his injury, but that was simply due to his ridiculous salary.

    • @rhayex: Remember that Brandon becomes a 5/10 next year. I think that is a bigger factor than what he said about Mr. C or to CTrent

    • @rhayex: NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER trade for Uggla no matter who gets thrown in unless it is someone like Heyward and he would not solve the RH power bat problem. I am not sure but I think Uggla is more expensive than Phillips and he is so inept as a hitter and a 2nd baseman that the Braves did not use him late in the season and also in the playoffs.

    • @rhayex: I don’t think that Uggla would help us at all. I do agree with you that BP’s disappointing 2nd half was likely due to injury; he’s still a terrific defender, and he came close to carrying the team before he got hurt. Even if he’s trouble in the clubhouse, getting rid of him could certainly cause more problems than it solves.

  14. I’d love to see the Reds take a flyer on Chris Young to play CF and/or Corey Hart for LF/back up 1B, should Choo sign elsewhere. Both are coming off down seasons, I bet they could be had on one year deals to re-establish value. Ludwick would be relegated to Heisey status, but I think that’s the best spot for him at this point.

    • @Jared Wynne: Is Hart an upgrade over Ludwick? As a backup 1B, yeah … he offers that. Otherwise, that’s tricky. Honestly, adding still another layer on the LF platoon has become a real Anacin headache.

      • @Johnu1: Hart is a distinct upgrade over Ludwick just for the decline factor heading Ludwick’s way. Hart is 4 years younger. Fairly similar lifetime stats, though, you’re right about that. Hart doesn’t have terrible splits… he still has an OPS of just shy of .800 against righties, and it just goes up from there against lefties.

    • @Jared Wynne: Depending on the price, Corey Hart could be a solid addition.

      On the other hand, I don’t see where Chris Young could help the team at all though. Sure he’s coming off a down year so he might rebound, but he’s a 30-year-old with a career line of .235/.315/.431 and a career 94 OPS+. That’s not confidence inspiring.

      • @ToddAlmighty: I see a 30 year old, good fielding, right handed CF that has a history of power and patience. And he could be had for a relatively cheap, short contract. It would surprise me if Hart and Young together cost more that 15 mil on the year, and both fill positions of need for the Reds. I don’t see many better options. Heisey and Bruce are stretched in CF, and I think the consensus is that Hamilton needs more seasoning.

        Hart is an injury flyer. But I’d start him over Ludwick in a heartbeat. Having Ludwick and Heisey as bench players would do something about our lack of bench weapons, and would give Price some flexibility in terms of spelling his regulars across the OF and 1B. Joey needed time off last year, but there wasn’t anyone to spell him with. Hart could conceivably play LF/RF/1B. Heisey and Young can play all 3 OF positions. It just seems like getting at least one of those players would be a good use of resources provided Choo can’t be signed. Personally, I prefer Young, because Hart could blow out his knees again and Young would be cheaper and could hold down CF at minimum until Hamilton is ready.

  15. I think a whole lot of what the Reds have next year depends on how possible extension talks go with Homer Bailey and Mat Latos. I got to think getting at least one of those guys signed for a few more years is one of the bigger things on Uncle Walt’s to do list.

    I’d also speculate that if talks look particularly bleak on one of them, I’d believe they might use them to deal along with the players mentioned as being available like BP and Ryan Hanigan.

    I got to wonder if they end up dealing with one of the big dollar AL clubs that someone like Ryan Ludwick might be someone they deal off too. A team like the Yankees seems to stock pile vet players like Ludwick every year. Ludwick showed a bit after coming back from injury and his contract for some of those east coast teams isn’t an issue for them.

    • @earl: You’ve hit something no one else has, and that’s great. A lot does depend on the extension talks with one of their two studs. You’re right, if they can’t extend one, deal him. This gives all KINDS of creative choices for Mr. Jocketty.

      btw – Jay Bell is the new Bench Coach.

  16. I don’t know about you guys, but I am already missing Reds baseball a ton. I’ve pretty much lost interest in the NFL over the past few seasons, was never much of a NBA fan and finding IU hoops games down in Kentucky on TV is a pretty hit or miss proposition.

  17. Choo, come back……Choo, come back……

  18. I do not believe that the Reds failed to make a qualifying offer to Arroyo and they are trying to trade DDBP to free up payroll to sign Choo. Does anyone realize that next year at this time, Choo will be the same age as DDBP right now? The Reds would be crazy to offer Choo a “Werth” like contract at his age. I know that middle infielders tend to age quicker than outfielders but Father Time spares no one. If I were Mr. Jocketty, I would free up money to make a long term deal to Mat Latos and use Bailey as trade bait for a power hitter. Bailey is a career 49-45 pitcher over seven seasons. Latos is 55-40 over five seasons and is seemingly getting better and better. We have not seen progression in Bailey although he has thrown a pair of no hitters. Who would you want to pitch a big game for you? I would go with Latos. Also Latos seemingly loves Cincinnati and Bailey has shown reluctance to sign any long term deal. I just have to wonder how much of a distraction that DDBP has become because I am not feeling the love for him that I used to feel. I hope and pray that Uggla does not become part of the Reds and I just do not see Mr. Jocketty making that trade unless Mr. C demands it. At the end of the day, Mr. C is the one that has to hear the bickering from the “elite” business leaders and he would probably want to keep a good rapport with the people capable of pouring money into the franchise.

    • @icee82: Have no seen progression in Bailey? His ERA has dropped last 4 seasons. Last 3 seasons, his H/9 has gone down and his WAR has increased, his WHIP has gone down every season since ’08. I’m not sure what you’re looking at when you say he hasn’t progressed.

  19. Not to pile on the BP train, but it’s interesting how he’s not featured in the Redsfest email blast. He’s practically been the cover guy for every Redsfest and Caravan. On a slightly related note, one has to wonder how long the trade BP talk has to go on before we hit a point of no return for his ego.

    • @walshjp: I’m sure that point was the very first day that it came out and neither Walt or Bob spoke up and said they fully support Phillips and want him to stay in Cincinnati until he retires.

  20. Anyone else see this?

    •The Reds will hire Jay Bell as their new bench coach, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter). Bell was serving as the Pirates hitting coach and previously worked as the Diamondbacks’ bench coach. Bell and new Cincinnati manager Bryan Price both worked in Arizona’s organization at the same time.

    Can you guys shed some light on Jay Bell — his background… and what he brings to the Reds

  21. I would definitely not count out Homer still improving more. Lots of power pitchers didnt get excellent until their late 20s.

  22. On Bailey, what I should have said is that he has not progressed at a level based on his seven years in his number of years in the league. He was very good at the conclusion of the 2012 campaign but he has not shown that consistency over long periods of time in his career. Look at the consistency of Latos. He was money in the bank last season. I believe Bailey could garner more on the trade market than a Mike Leake or Johnny Cueto. Health has to be a concern as far as Cueto is concerned. On BP, I think that he is probably already at the point of no return on his ego. He was upset about the contract and now they have dangled him as trade bait. In his words, he is probably not feeling much love. I also noticed that he was conspicuously absent from the RedsFest materials as well. However he is included in the Elite pass line so the Reds Community Fund believes that people are going to pay the $300 or so necessary to get an autograph from him without the unbelievable lines there!

  23. From Mike Berardino, Pioneer Press…

    Talks continue to heat up between the Twins and veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo.

    Negotiations had yet to commence as of Tuesday evening, according to a person with direct knowledge, but the Twins have been going over Arroyo’s medical records and have discussed guarantee language with his representatives while in Orlando for baseball’s general managers’ meetings.

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About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at


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