Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

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

Defending champs focal point of deadline

Seldom has a defending World Series champion been so clearly in the middle of the action from a sellers’ perspective leading into the July 31 trade deadline. But such is life for a Red Sox team that was 48-58 entering play on Tuesday, and 8 1/2 games out for  a Wild Card spot.

Jon Lester’s availability for an elite prospect has been well-chronicled, with teams near and far checking in on the ace lefty. But John Lackey has also found his way into the middle of the rumor mill and has a more team-friendly contract for an acquiring team than Lester, who is a free agent at season’s end. When Lackey signed with the Red Sox, an extra year at the player minimum was tacked on to the end of the contract if Lackey ever missed a season due to elbow woes. That’s exactly what happened in 2012, and 2015 is the year Lackey gets paid the minimum.

Andrew Miller, who has been a dominant lefty reliever at times for the Sox this season, is a free agent at the end of the season and another enticing potential addition for a lot of contenders. The one player the Red Sox are very hesitant to deal is their reliable closer Koji Uehara, who would likely return to Boston for the qualifying offer in 2015. Uehara will be 40 next April.

Lester takes the ball for the Red Sox on Wednesday night in what should be a high-drama event, given Thursday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.

Ian Browne

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

Reds need 1B help?

The Reds have been watching 1B Joey Votto play on a balky left quadriceps for several games of late, the same injury that had him on the disabled list from May 21-June 10. It’s possible that Votto could return to the DL, but they lack experienced backups at first base.

Jay Bruce started his first game professionally at first base on Monday vs. the Cubs.

Brayan Pena, who was on paternity leave Sunday and Monday, is the usual backup first baseman but is also the backup catcher.

Todd Frazier, the regular third baseman, is also a first base option for manager Bryan Price.

The organization has Donald Lutz at Triple-A Louisville but have been reluctant to use him. It appears that the Reds could use some help if Votto isn’t back in the lineup. But Price hoped getting outside help would not be needed.

“We’re going to kick the tires here on what we have in stock as opposed to going out there and looking around,” Price said on Monday. “I don’t know if there’s a different philosophy outside of this office. We’re going to see how it goes.”

– Mark Sheldon

Three Reds avoid arbitration

Lots of signings around baseball Friday ahead of the 1 p.m. ET deadline for clubs and arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary figures.

The Reds have three players who agreed to terms on contracts to avoid arbitration.

Reliever Sam LeCure: Two-year contract worth $3.05 million
Starting pitcher Mike Leake: One-year contract worth $5.925 million
Reliever Alfredo Simon: One-year contract worth $1.25 million (according to Rosenthal)

Leake’s deal was announced on Twitter by his agency, the Beverly Hills Sports Council, but the Reds have yet to verify.

Cincinnati still has two cases pending in RHP Homer Bailey and LHP Aroldis Chapman.

– Mark Sheldon

Heisey, Reds avoid arbitration

The Reds and outfielder Chris Heisey avoided arbitration on Thursday by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $1.76 million, MLB.com confirmed. It was first reported by ESPN. com’s Jerry Crasnick.

Arbitration eligible for the second time, Heisey received a raise from the $1.325 million he made last season. He batted .237/.279/.415 in 2013 with nine home runs and 23 RBIs over 87 games as he also missed time with a hamstring injury.

The deal with the 29-year-old Heisey comes ahead of Friday’s deadline for clubs and arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary figures.

Cincinnati now has five players that remain eligible for arbitration in Aroldis Chapman, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Sam LeCure and Alfredo Simon.

– Mark Sheldon

Reds add Jeff Francis

I have confirmed that former Rockies LHP Jeff Francis has signed a Minor League contract with the Reds and will be invited to big league camp next month. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick first reported the deal.

If Francis’ name sounds familiar to fans in Cincinnati, he also signed a similar contract with the Reds on Jan. 25, 2012, but never reached the Majors that season after not landing a job on the staff at Spring Training. For Triple-A Louisville, Francis went 3-6 with a 3.72 ERA in 12 starts. He opted for his release from Cincinnati on June 4 of that year and returned to his longtime team, the Rockies.

Now 33, Francis was 3-5 with a 6.27 ERA in 23 games, including 12 starts, for Colorado in 2013. Over 70 2/3 innings, the British Columbia native gave up 89 hits and 24 walks with 63 strikes.

The Reds have not announced a transaction regarding Francis, yet.

Without Bronson Arroyo returning, the Reds have been adding some depth behind their expected five-man rotation. Tony Cingrani is expected to replace Arroyo. The club has also traded for LHP David Holmberg from the D-backs last month and signed free agent RHP Chien-Ming Wang to a Minor League deal in December.

– Mark Sheldon

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