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More moves for Reds?

The Reds have added a closer, a left fielder, a starting pitcher and a lefty setup man. What’s next?

Infielder … maybe.

The free-agent market for infielders who can play shortstop and back up rookie Zack Cozart is rather thin. It’s thin enough that Reds general manager Walt Jocketty is thinking trade rather signing someone from the open market.

“We’re still talking to a couple of clubs,” Jocketty said late Friday. “We’ll know something by next week, hopefully. I don’t think there’s a lot of guys out there free agent wise.”

Jocketty did not divulge which clubs he was chatting with.

Of the free-agent shortstops, there’s only Ryan Theriot, Miguel Tejada and former Red Edgar Renteria. In recent days, ex-Red Orlando Cabrera retired and Jack Wilson signed with the Braves.

Jocketty said that there has been some interest shown to Theriot.

“We’ve talked to him, had some conversations,” Jocketty said.

Asked if he was optimistic something could get done, Jocketty responded “not today.”

• If the Reds sign nobody and don’t pull off a trade, Jocketty said he’d be comfortable going with what is already in house. That would mean Cozart and Paul Janish would be the team’s shortstops, with Cozart on the inside track to start.

• The Reds are continuing to look at adding to their depth with possible Minor League contract offers. One player they’re taking a look at, Jocketty confirmed, is pitcher Jeff Francis. The left-handed Francis, 30, was 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA in 31 starts last season with the Royals.  He was with the Rockies from 2004-10 and was a 17-game winner in 2007.

– Mark Sheldon

Reds get Ludwick

MLB.com has learned via a source Monday night that outfielder Ryan Ludwick has agreed to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2013. The dollar figure remains unclear, but the Reds weren’t expected to spend a lot to fill their opening for a fourth outfielder.

Ken Rosenthal at FOX and MLB Network was first with the story.

Ludwick, 33, batted .237 with 13 home runs last season in a combined 139 games with the Padres and Pirates. He has a history with Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, having played for him with the Cardinals. Ludwick spent the 2007-09 seasons in St. Louis and hit a career best 37 homers with 113 RBIs in 2008.

This fills the Reds need for a fourth outfielder that can mainly play left field in a quasi-platoon with Chris Heisey.

– Mark Sheldon

Deal for Reds and Madson

UPDATE — A baseball source confirmed to MLB.com that the Reds and Ryan Madson agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract.

******

According to several reports, the Reds have agreed to terms late Tuesday on a one-year contract with free agent closer Ryan Madson. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reported it first. I am still trying to confirm this myself and have several calls out.

Citing sources, Heyman earlier in the evening that talks between the two sides were heating up and in the serious stages. However, a source familiar with the situation had downplayed the report to MLB.com, saying it was unlikely the Reds would get Madson unless his agent — Scott Boras — came well off the demand of a four-year, $44 million contract he had been reportedly been wanting.

And with this seeming to be a one-year deal for Madson, that certainly appears to be the case. USA Today reports the deal is worth in excess of$10 million.

The Reds have not announced any agreement. A message was left with general manager Walt Jocketty.

– Mark Sheldon

Reds and Madson? Unlikely

There is a CBSSports.com report that the Reds are in the serious stage of talks with free agent closer Ryan Madson, even saying that things were “heating up.”

A source told MLB.com on Tuesday night that the club has contacted almost every player on the market at one time or another. The source downplayed the report on Madson, saying it was unlikely unless Madson’s agent — Scott Boras — came well off the demand of a four-year, $44 million contract he had been reportedly wanted.

The Reds have maintained talks with the other free agent closer on the market — Francisco Cordero. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said last week that the offer for Cordero would be for no more than one guaranteed year.

– Mark Sheldon

Reds sign Brackman

The Reds made official Wednesday the signing of RHP Andrew Brackman.It is a one-year Major League contract and terms were not immediately known.

Although Brackman was once a first-round Draft pick of the Yankees in 2007, he’s known best locally as being a product of Cincinnati and Moeller High School.

Signed by New York to a four-year, $3.35 million Major League contract out of North Carolina State, Brackman’s selection came with risk since the club knew he would promptly require Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

In three Minor League seasons, Brackman was 15-29 with a 5.11 ERA. Brackman spent most of 2011 with Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre but pitched three games in relief for New York in September — all were scoreless appearances. The Yankees declined Brackman’s 2012 option after the season.

Mark Sheldon

Cordero and Reds still talking

There could be some movement, one way or another, in the next few days on free agent closer Francisco Cordero. The Reds are still in the running.

“We’re still talking with [Cincinnati] and a couple of other clubs,” Cordero’s agent, Bean Stringfellow, said on Tuesday. “We’re making progress on a lot of fronts. Multi-year contracts are definitely involved.

“The Reds are involved and are still interested in bringing him back. I am talking with them on a regular basis.”

Stringfellow declined to detail the specific numbers being bandied about with the Reds in negotiations. It seemed like he was optimistic about where talks were going with the different clubs and that a deal was possible.

“It could be today or 10 days from now. I don’t know,” Stringfellow said. “I do know that we’re closer now than we’ve been. I don’t think it will carry on too much longer.”

– Mark Sheldon

Marshall for Wood nearly done?

The Reds appeared close Wednesday to completing a trade that would land left-handed reliever Sean Marshall from the Cubs in exchange for young lefty starter Travis Wood and two Minor Leaguers.

According to ESPNChicago.com, the deal was agreed to pending physicals. A source confirmed the Reds’ interest in Marshall to MLB.com, but did not expect the trade to be consummated on Wednesday.

Cincinnati currently has a vacancy for the closer’s role, but are looking at Marshall as a lefty set-up man.

– Mark Sheldon

Reds talk w/Rays

It’s been a slow week for the Reds, especially in their efforts to nab a starting pitcher in a trade. General manager Walt Jocketty said Wednesday has had some meetings about trades, including with the Rays.

“I’ve talked to them several times,” Jocketty said. “I don’t think we’re close to anything.”

Jocketty did not divulge who was discussed. I can imagine James Shields had to have been one of the teams from the Rays’ end.

*Further down the list has been a search for a right-handed hitting left fielder. There has been thought given to adding free agent OF Cody Ross, who had a very brief stint with the Reds in 2006.

“We kicked it around,” Jocketty said. “I saw his agent around in the lobby. He said he’d be interested in coming back. I told him we’d discuss it and we did. We have some other things to do first.

*When asked about OF Dmitri Young, who has been in Dallas seeking a job and comeback, Jocketty said he would consider it. He liked him when he had Young in St. Louis.

– Mark Sheldon

Reds ‘back burner’ interest in Willingham

The Reds appear to have moderate interest in free agent OF Josh Willingham, who last played for the A’s and hit 29 homers last season mainly at a pitcher’s park like Oakland.

“I wouldn’t say it’s on the front burner,” Reds GM Walt Jocketty said of the Willingham pursuit. “It’s simmering on the back burner, if that. We are trying to find a right-handed hitter. I guess Willingham fits in that category.”

The Reds have more pressing needs on their list, but a right-handed hitting left fielder is something the club would like to add.

“It’s a logical place right now. We may end up going with Heisey and Alonso,” Jocketty said.

*There has been no talks yet with Brandon Phillips’ people. They did not arrive to town until today.

*One roster move was made — Jeremy Horst cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Louisville. Horst will be invited to Spring Training. The 40-man roster is at 39 players.

– Mark Sheldon

Progress in Phillips talks?

Reds 2B Brandon Phillips hinted Tuesday night that he and the club are closer to a long-term contract extension.

“Just talked to my agent @Baseball_ACES and it feels good to know that we’re moving in the right direction to make me a #Red4Life,” Phillips posted on his Twitter feed, @datdudeBP

On October 31, the Reds exercised Phillips’ $12 million option for 2012, but he has long maintained a desire to sign long term this year. He can become a free agent for the first time after next season.

A message for comment was left for Reds general manager Walt Jocketty. As recently as Nov. 17 following the General Managers Meetings, Jocketty told MLB.com that there had been progress in talks with Phillips’ agents, but that the two sides were nowhere close to a deal.

UPDATE: When reached, Jocketty didn’t expect that a deal was near.

 
“I think it’s still a ways to go,” Jocketty said. “We’re still hopeful to get something done. We’re glad he feels that way.”

— Mark Sheldon

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