Reds mulling over outfield options

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty acknowledged his interest in free agent outfielders Nori Aoki and Michael Morse on Tuesday, though he added the club is exploring far more options than just those two players, according to MLB.com’s Tom Singer.

Cincinnati is looking at a number of players to fill the left field void next season, but Aoki and Morse were by far the two most-discussed targets when Jocketty held court with reporters on Tuesday.

“We have a center fielder [Billy Hamilton] and a right fielder [Jay Bruce], so yes [Aoki] would play left field,” Jocketty said when approached by a group of Japanese reporters who inquired about the Reds’ rumored interest in Aoki. “We like his defense, he gets on base and makes things happen when he’s on base. He’s an exciting player.

“Morse is another guy. We do have an interest, and in several others. We haven’t just targeted those guys [Morse and Aoki].”

Either of those players would certainly make sense for a Reds team that is seemingly looking for a short-term option in left field. Along with the 24-year-old Hamilton in center field and the 27-year-old Bruce in right, the Reds have outfielder Jesse Winker — the club’s No. 1-ranked prospect among position players — waiting in the wings.

Winker isn’t expected to be a full-time Major Leaguer until at least 2016, meaning the Reds would ideally like to sign an outfielder to a two- or three-year contract, maximum. That, along with the potential price tags, would eliminate some of the top outfield targets such as Nelson Cruz or Melky Cabrera. Instead, the Reds figure to target someone like Aoki or Morse — or even Torii Hunter, a 39-year-old free agent looking to extend his career with a short-term deal.

In other words, the Reds aren’t yet zeroing in on Aoki or Morse, but they certainly fit the club’s criteria for left field in 2015.

— Paul Casella

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