Recently released Royals OF Jeff Francoeur has interest from three teams, including the Reds, according to a tweet from FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal. The other two clubs in pursuit were not known.
Francoeur is a right-handed bat, which would fit the profile of something the Reds could use while they await the return of an injured Ryan Ludwick sometime in August. Francoeur, also known for being a good guy with fans and in the clubhouse, would fit the profile of a veteran good character guy that the Reds often try to acquire.
Bottom line: How much boost would Francoeur really give Cincinnati? He batted .208/.249/.322 for the Royals this season and .235/.287/.378 with 16 home runs in 2012. Current left fielders Xavier Paul and Derrick Robinson have been better than that this season. And Chris Heisey, who has struggled himself this season but hit two doubles on Sunday, is already in house.
– Mark Sheldon
The Reds have, thus far, been relatively quiet on the trade rumor front this summer. It’s not that they don’t have needs, however.
Cincinnati’s bullpen has been taxed by the injuries to its two set-up men — lefty Sean Marshall and right-hander Jonathan Broxton. Both could be back around the All-Star break, possibly. The Reds and GM Walt Jocketty must decide if they can wait for Marshall and Broxton, which would be a big help, or seek outside assistance.
It’s a similar situation in left field. Ryan Ludwick, expected to be the cleanup hitter this year, has been out since suffering a right shoulder injury on Opening Day. Ludwick could be back some time in August. But with Chris Heisey and Todd Frazier yet to really ignite, the Reds have lacked right-handed production much of this season. Another bat would certainly help, but might the “addition” of Ludwick provide the requored boost?
Either way — if the Reds make a deal before or on July 31, it would likely be in one or both of these areas.
– Mark Sheldon
The Pirates agreed to terms on a two-year, $14 million contract with pitcher Francisco Liriano, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on Friday.
The deal is pending a physical.
Liriano, 29, was 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA in 34 games, including 28 starts, for the Twins and White Sox last season. He spent most of his career with Minnesota and had his best year during an All-Star 2006 season when he was 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA.
– Mark Sheldon
FoxSports.com/MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal is reporting Monday afternoon that the Reds and free agent reliever Jonathan Broxton are in serious talks about a three-year contract. The story is based info from anonymous sources.
I have calls out to Reds GM Walt Jocketty and BB Abbott, the agent for Broxton.
By signing Broxton to a long-term deal, the path would be paved for the Reds to move current closer Aroldis Chapman into the rotation — something that they wanted to do in 2011 before injuries crushed the bullpen during Spring Training. If Chapman was unsuccessful in the transition, he could always return to closing and Broxton can go back to setting up for Chapman.
Broxton, 28, was acquired by Cincinnati from the Royals on July 31. Overall in 60 appearances totaling 58 innings, he posted a 2.48 ERA, 56 hits, 17 walks and 45 strikeouts. While Chapman missed 10 days with shoulder fatigue in September, Broxton stepped up and was 4-for-4 in save chances.
— Mark Sheldon
The Reds have two young shortstops on their 40-man roster in regular Zack Cozart and September call-up Didi Gregorius. With the market relatively bare of shortstops, especially ones so far from free agency, they could be in demand according to FoxSports.com.
Reds GM Walt Jocketty seemed to indicate to the web site he was open to dealing one of his shortstops.
“It depends if we get back what we need,” Jocketty said. “If we don’t, then I won’t mind holding onto them.”
The Reds need a leadoff hitter and a closer so they could potentially move Aroldis Chapman to the rotation. Oakland has surplus of relievers and an extra leadoff-hitting outfielder in Coco Crisp.
The Twins, D-backs and Rays are also in the market for a shortstop, according to FoxSports.com.
– Mark Sheldon
According to Foxsports.com, the Reds made a trade with the Royals to acquire reliever Jonathan Broxton with less than an hour to go before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline. Broxton is 1-2 with a 2.27 ERA with 23 saves, 14 walks and 25 strikeouts in 35 games as Kansas City’s closer. It is not known who is going from the Reds to the Royals in the deal, first reported by Ken Rosenthal.
A 28-year-old right-hander, Broxton is making $4 million this season and can be a free agent this winter.
– Mark Sheldon
The Reds – which entered Friday leading the National League Central by two games over the second-place Pirates — came into the Deadline silly season hoping to find a potential leadoff hitter, a cleanup hitter, a left-handed bat off of the bench and potential pitching depth. They very much remain buyers on the trade market, according to general manager Walt Jocketty.
As Cincinnati has hit a tear of late with wins of 14 of their previous 16 games, entering Friday, players like Ryan Ludwick and Brandon Phillips have stepped up well, especially during the absence of the injured Joey Votto. It’s made middle of the order help less of a need.
“It’s not as high a priority as the top of the order. We need to get guys on base,” said Jocketty, who skipped attending Friday’s game at Coors Field to huddle with his inner circle at the hotel and evaluate trade proposals.
Nothing is close to happening, however.
“Quite frankly, things haven’t changed much, but we continue to talk,” Jocketty said. “I get the sense from a couple of clubs that they’re not going to do anything until the deadline.”
The Reds have had high level scouts watching the Twins lately. Minnesota has a potentially available leadoff man in Denard Span, but is seeking a haul of talent that includes starting pitching. The Reds have also been linked in rumors to Shane Victorino and Juan Pierre of the Phillies.
– Mark Sheldon
With the news Monday that Reds 1B Joey Votto will need arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee and be out 3-4 weeks, GM Walt Jocketty isn’t altering his approach to the July 31 Trade Deadline.
“It doesn’t affect it any differently,” Jocketty said. “We’re still going to look for the same things. Joey will be back. So we’ll just keep working on what we’ve done to this point.”
Jocketty has already noted in recent days that he is looking for a leadoff hitter, a possible cleanup hitter and left-handed hitting bench help. Right now, Jay Bruce is the only healthy left-handed hitter on Cincinnati’s 25-man roster.
– Mark Sheldon
CINCINNATI – Opening Day isn’t just the first game of the regular season for the Reds, it’s an actual holiday for the city of Cincinnati.
Founded in 1869 as baseball’s first professional club, the Reds held Opening Day No. 136 on Thursday vs. the Marlins. As usual, there were no shortages of pomp and circumstance that made the day unique.
“I know how big Opening Day is here. It’s larger here than any place I’ve been,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Once upon a time, the Reds had the honor of playing the very first game of every season. Now the club has the privilege of getting to open every regular season at home.
Cincinnati is also the only big league city that has a venerable parade to celebrate the beginning of a season. For the 93rd time, the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade rolled from the streets of Over-the-Rhine into downtown.
Former Reds star and current ESPN broadcaster Aaron Boone served as grand marshal and current players Mat Latos and Nick Masset also took part and rode in the back of a car towards Fountain Square.
Just before game time, the Rosie Reds social group continued their time-honored tradition of presenting fruit baskets to both teams’ managers – Baker from the Reds and Ozzie Guillen from the Marlins.
U.S. Senator Rob Portman served as the game’s honorary captain. Retiring Hamilton County sheriff bounced a ceremonial first pitch – but it’s Opening Day, so it counted as a strike.
After the introductions of both the Reds and Marlins, there was a moment of silence to honor a former owner, the late Carl Lindner and former Red Jerry Lynch, both whom died during the off-season. The Reds also paused to remember victims of March tornadoes that devastated parts of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
Grammy Award winning recording artist Rodney Atkins sang the National Anthem as a giant American flag shaped like the country was unfurled across the outfield.
Taking it all in was television personality and singer Nick Lachey, along with his wife Vanessa Minnillo-Lachey, the entertainment reporter. Lachey, a native Cincinnatian, has previously thrown a ceremonial first pitch at a Reds opener.
“It’s literally my favorite day of the year for this city to be able to have our opener at home every year,” Lachey said. “It’s an unofficial holiday. The sun is shining and everyone is optimistic. Opening day is perfect. Everyone starts at zero. There is nothing but promise. It’s a good day.”
Even for a veteran player of 17 seasons like Reds third baseman Scott Rolen, Opening Day remains a special time – no matter the city where it’s being held.
“It’s always been a celebration time for baseball across the country,” Rolen said. “Everybody fills their stadiums up and I think people look forward to it, people get excited about it – fans and players – you get your nerves and butterflies and everything. Everybody is looking for their first hit and all that stuff. That’s not the important stuff. You go out there and the country is looking forward to that day.”
The topic of Roy Oswalt and the Reds being a potential match hasn’t gone away in the past several weeks, despite the denials from general manager Walt Jocketty. Rumors flared up again over the weekend as other clubs appear to be declining their interest. The Cardinals were the latest team to reportedly back off.
Speaking by phone on Tuesday from Goodyear, Ariz., Jocketty emphatically denied the Reds were in on Oswalt.
“The media has been putting us into it. I’m tired of it,” Jocketty said. “I try to be upfront with you guys. I’ve gotten a lot of calls from people. I’m not saying something couldn’t ever happen but there’s nothing to lead me to believe we will sign him.”
“I don’t know where he’s going. We haven’t had any serious discussions with him. We’ve had no contact with that player.”
On another topic — the Reds are no closer to an extension with 2B Brandon Phillips
“Not really,” Jocketty said. “We really haven’t had a chance to talk with them. Hopefully in the next few weeks, it’s something we can address.”
Jocketty said he did not believe Phillips’ side had set any deadline for talks ending before the season starts.
“I think this could go on for a while,” Jocketty said.
– Mark Sheldon