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Viciedo not a fit for Reds

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty downplayed a report that his club was pursuing free agent outfielder Dayan Viciedo, who was released by the White Sox earlier this week.

“We talked to his representative but I don’t know if we have a fit for him,” Jocketty said on Saturday. “They’re looking for more playing time. With our outfield the way it is, I don’t see it as a good fit.”

Viciedo, 25, could have been a fit in other ways. He would still under club control for three more years and would be a right-handed power bat off the bench that hit 25 home runs in 2012. He hit 21 homers last season for Chicago but batted .231/.281/.405 in 145 games.

*Also — talks are continuing with the two remaining Reds arbitration players — 3B Todd Frazier and closer Aroldis Chapman.

“We’re going to keep working on it this weekend and see if we can make some progress,” Jocketty said. “Until it’s over, we don’t really know.”

– Mark Sheldon

Cliff Lee on the move this spring?

It’s been no secret that the Phillies have been trying to move veterans this offseason. They’ve already traded SS Jimmy Rollins and they’re reportedly open to dealing starting pitcher Cole Hamels and closer Jonathan Papelpon.

On Friday, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported that lefty starter Cliff Lee could also be on the move as soon as Spring Training, if Lee is healthy.

MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reported earlier this month that Lee could be a valuable trade chip for Philadelphia around the July 31 Trade Deadline. But it seems possible that the timetable has moved up.

Lee was limited to 13 starts last season because of a left elbow injury. He is owed $25 million in 2015 and has a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016 with a $12.5 million buyout. The option becomes guaranteed with 200 innings pitched in 2015.

– Mark Sheldon

Four-year contract for Mesoraco

The Reds and catcher Devin Mesoraco have agreed to a four-year contract on Monday, MLB.com learned from two sources. Mesoraco has already taken his physical and will sign the deal later today and have a media availability.

Terms aren’t known just yet but the deal would cover all three arbitration years and one year of free agent eligiblity.

The club has not announced a deal, but it’s worth $28 million.

Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman remain still arbitration eligible for the Reds.

Mark Sheldon

Multi-year deal for Mesoraco?

MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that the Reds and catcher Devin Mesoraco are nearing an agreement on a multi-year contract extension that would avoid arbitration.

Mesoraco is first-year arbitration eligible and filed for $3.6 million while the Reds offered $2.45 million. He made $525,000 last season.

“My agent came back to me a couple of times. It’s more in his hands,” Mesoraco told me during Reds Caravan last week.

Mesoraco is open to a multi-year contract and it was something general manager Walt Jocketty said had been discussed on the day salary figures were exchanged.

“Definitely, no doubt,” Mesoraco said of his desire for a multi-year deal. “I definitely enjoy it here. It’s a perfect city for me. Team-wise, I feel as comfortable as I could possibly feel.”

– Mark Sheldon

Cueto gives Reds deadline

If the Reds would like to sign ace Johnny Cueto to a contract extension, they have a deadline of Opening Day to get it done. Otherwise, Cueto and his agent will stop negotiations and revisit it after the season — when Cueto is a free agent.

“I told the Reds that at the meeting we had during the Winter Meetings,” Cueto’s agent, Bryce Dixon, told MLB.com on Tuesday. “Nothing has changed. It’s not something that’s adversarial. Johnny said to me at the end of the season ‘to work something out but if not, I don’t want to the guy messing with contracts in the middle of a season.’

“His rationale is there is plenty of time to get worked out. If not, no hard feelings.”

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty was not available for comment.

Cueto, 28, will make $10 million in 2015 – the option year of his contract – and will become a free agent for the first time after the season if he is not signed by Cincinnati.

– Mark Sheldon

Reds interested in Axford

A source told MLB.com at the Winter Meetings on Monday that the Reds have interest in signing veteran free agent reliever John Axford. No deal is close as of yet and the right-hander is also believed to be drawing interest from four other clubs.

Last season for Indians and Pirates, Axford was 2-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 62 appearances. He also pitched for the Cardinals and Brewers during his career. At Milwaukee, he was the club’s closer and saved a career-high 46 games in 2011 but ran into some struggles over the following two seasons and was traded to St. Louis.

Axford, who turns 32 on April 1, was signed by Cleveland to a one-year, $4.5 million deal last winter with the hopes he could regain his form as an elite closer. He had 10 saves, but early-season struggles led him to be removed from the role in May. Pittsburgh claimed him off of waivers in August.

– Mark Sheldon

Reds still searching LF market

The latest free agent outfielder to sign a contract — Torii Hunter — is having a press conference in Minneapolis as I type this blog entry. Hunter, 39, was signed to a one-year, $10.5 million contract to return to the Twins. I wrote last week that Hunter would have been a good fit for the Reds. Even though Cincinnati was not in the running, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty apparently was thinking the same thing.

“We had a lot of interest in Hunter,” Jocketty said on Wednesday. “He would have been a kind of dual role for us – leadership in the clubhouse and his abilities on the field. That was one of our targeted guys.”

The search will continue for a starting left fielder.

“We’re still hopeful of getting something done,” Jocketty said.

To this point, there hasn’t been progress towards signing two other target free agents, Nori Aoki and Michael Morse.

“Nothing yet,” Jocketty said.

Tuesday’s trade of Chris Heisey to the Dodgers added to glut of outfielders in Chavez Ravine.

“I think they see a role for him there, eventually,” Jocketty said. “We wanted to make sure we got some quality in return. We picked a good one, we think, with [pitcher Matt] Magill.”

Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford have been viewed as tradeable for Los Angeles. Don’t expect the Heisey deal to be a precursor to another trade between the Reds and Dodgers. Kemp is owed $107 million over the next five years. Crawford will make $62.25 million over the next three years and Ethier is due has $56 million over the next three seasons.

“That’s too expensive,” Jocketty said.

– Mark Sheldon

Reds still buying?

The Reds, losers of seven-straight out of the All-Star break and nine of 11 entering Wednesday’s play, went from definite buyers to speculation they could sell before the Trade Deadline since they hit the skids.

While general manager Walt Jocketty has not been seen lately, Price maintained Wednesday morning that the Reds were still looking to make additions.

“I think we’re looking to get better. I don’t think there is any question about that,” Price said. “I don’t see us as a team that’s looking to 2015. The way we’ve played and the way we’ve battled through the year and stayed competitive and stayed in this thing, knowing there’s a chance we’re going to get Brandon [Phillips] and Joey [Votto] back, that we’ve got a bunch of guys here that fight and are gamers, I don’t think there’s any reason to lose optimism that we can stay in this thing and start to get ourselves closer to the top – where we were right before the break.”

– Mark Sheldon

Reds after Marlon Byrd?

Former general manager and current Sirius/XM radio analyst Jim Bowden has sources that him reporting on Wednesday that the Reds and Phillies are continuing to have trade talks regarding outfielder Marlon Byrd.

The slumping Reds could certainly use Byrd’s bat, but probably not his contract.

Byrd is owed $8 million for 2015 and has a $8 million option for 2016 that vests with 600 plate appearances next season or 1,100 PA’s combined for 2014-15. He also only plays in the outfield and will turn 37 years old on Aug. 30.

A season ago when the Reds needed a bat and Byrd was passing through waivers, adding him would have made much more sense. This year, even with the offense in need of a jolt, not so much. That’s a lot of contract to be carrying for an aged player.

– Mark Sheldon

Jocketty: Reds looking for a bat

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has several of his inner-circle of baseball operations people on the road with him in New York. Jocketty is eyeing some additions to the club before the July 31 Trade Deadline.

“I’d like to add a bat,” Jocketty said on Sunday. “We just haven’t found anything that attracts us yet. It may not happen before the 31st.”

A deal of course can still happen after the deadline. Players have to clear waivers though and can be blocked. There haven’t been a ton of activity yet on the Reds front.

“We’ve had a few discussions with clubs but it’s been relatively quiet,” Jocketty said. “It’s a little surprising.”

The Reds offense has been compromised by injuries to Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, who are both likely to be on the disabled list for an extended period.

If the Reds acquire a bat, the preference would be for the player to play multiple positions.

“That would be better because eventually we’re going to get Joey and Brandon back so you don’t want to limit yourself if you can,” Jocketty said.

As for one player out there who doesn’t require a trade, recently released Braves 2B Dan Uggla, Jocketty did not rule it out of hand.

“We haven’t discussed it yet,” he said. “I haven’t talked to our scouts who saw him. We’re going to meet tomorrow and go over some stuff.”

– Mark Sheldon

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