Despite the nihilism (or is it crafty gamesmanship?) of the front office, we know the Reds are at least pretending at pursuing a Leadoffman - or, failing that, a coxswain. The player in question will have to man LF or SS, since those are really the only openings in the starting lineup at present (It would be weird - and so Walt - if it ended up being a pitcher.) So here's a quick and dirty inventory as the Reds shape their Opening Day 2011 roster. Or maybe they're using some kind of new age educational approach and just, like, letting it shape itself.
From a payroll perspective, last year's Opening Day outlay (major league salaries plus pro-rated bonuses) was $76M. By my count, the Reds are at around that figure currently (by including estimated arbitration raises). The amount committed could come down based on trades, contract extensions or more details on Arroyo's deferred salary (I've got him down tentatively for $11.5M). So if the payroll is raised to $80M, or a bit above, they've got roughly $5M to spend. That puts a distinct limit on what moves can be made, though I think it provides room for several interesting trade scenarios.
Looking at the 25-man roster, I see about as many as 6 spots that are "open" (that is, not a lock to be occupied by someone currently under contract to the Reds):
- 1 OF (Assuming Chris Heisey stays on as 4th OF)
- 2 IF (Miguel Cairo is likely to take one of these spots)
- 3 spots in the 'pen (Highly likely to be filled internally, with Rhodes, Chapman or Willis taking at least one of the lefty spots; I've got Cordero, Masset, Bray and Ondrusek down as locks)
We don't know exactly who will be in the starting rotation, but unless there's a trade, it's a lock to be comprised of arms already in the organization. All of these openings could be filled internally, for league minimum. But if they want to venture outside the cocoon, here's a list of players in whom the Reds figure to be interested - based on a garbled John Fay tweet and some napkin scrawling - and who they could be willing to deal:
Curtis Granderson - no indication yet that he's available
Josh Willingham - doesn't fit their leadoff mold, but would be a significant upgrade in LF
Scott Podsednik - Still "stealing" myself against this one, though there are plenty of reasons why it wouldn't happen
J.J. Hardy - No interest has been indicated in a SS; Both Hardy and Bartlett are not overwhelmingly clear upgrades over Janish
Juan Francisco - Continues to display nino-destructing power, but I think his biggest perceived liability is lack of position, rather than free-swinging. Would an AL team be interested?
Yonder Alonso - Smart money says he stays at least one more season.
Francisco Cordero - Could be moved as a strict salary dump to enable a trade/signing, but I still don't see it.