5 free agent hitters I'd target if I were the Reds

In an attempt to try to improve the defense while also adding some offense, these are the guys I would look at if I were with the Reds:

Jose Valentin (37 - .271/.330/.490 - 112 OPS+)
37 Years old
Positions: 2B, 3B, SS, LF, RF, 1B
2006 line: .271/.330/.490 (112 OPS+)
Last 3 years: .230/.310/.449

I hadn't noticed LLMBro until Red Menace brought him up a couple of days ago, and now I'm convinced that he should be the Reds starting second baseman next year, at least against right-handed pitchers.  Defensively, he may deserve to be the gold glove winner at second base this year according to most of the new fangled metrics.  Offensively he had a bit of a resurgence last year after two consecutive down years with the White Sox and Dogers.  He would definitely need to be used in a platoon situation as he has been manhandled by lefties during his career, but he posted an .879 OPS against right-handers in 2006.  What's not to like about that?

Postives: Great defense up the middle, was cheap last year ($912k) and could be this year again, especially if he wants to play with his brother, good production against righties

Negatives: He's getting old, but on the plus side he could replace Aurilia's veteran presence in the clubhouse.  His signing would probably require BP to move to shortstop, and we don't know how well he'll handle the position.  He made $5 million in 2004 and after a good season this past year, he may decide that he wants a similar salary.  That's a lot for the Reds to pay to a platooner.

My wild-ass guess at his price range: 2 year contract worth $4-5 million


Julio Lugo
31 Years old
Positions: SS, 2B, 3B
2006 line: .278/.341/.421 (94 OPS+)
Last 3 years: .248/.348/.405

If Lugo got on base just a little bit more, I would love to have him on the Reds.  He started to show signs of improving his OBP in Tampa Bay by putting up a .362 OBP in 2005 and a .373 OBP in half of a season there this year.  However, he was traded to the Dodgers at the deadline and his entire production went into the crapper.  On the plus side, that may have dropped his value some and he could potentially be had for a little cheaper than one would expect.

Positives: Pretty good defense at shortstop would keep BP at second.  Brings speed to the lineup (stole 84 bases the last 3 years at a 77% clip).  Could be a good number two hitter when Freel's in the lineup or lead off when he's not.

Negatives: His drop-off in LA is a yellow flag, though I think it was just the situation he was in.  He's got skills that are valuable, but some GMs tend to over-value them, which could drive up his price.

My wild-ass guess at his price range: 3 years $15-20 million


Dave Roberts
34 Years old
Positions: CF, LF
2006 line: .293/.360/.393 (100 OPS+)
Last 3 years: .277/.352/.401

Roberts is an interesting player to me.  If you look at his most similar players through age 34, his second match is Quentin McCracken.  That's kind of scary, huh?  But that's partly because Roberts didn't get to the Majors until he was 27 and he didn't get any regular playing time until he was 30.  However, he's one of those players that has steadily improved as he aged and he had a very good season last year for a player of his style.  He's not going to have a lot of pop in his bat, but if he could continue to get on base like he has lately, I think he could be very useful in the lead-off spot.  It should also be noted that he is a pretty good defender.  He was gold glove caliber in left field last year, but he's normally a center fielder (Mike Cameron had that role in San Diego).  He may be good enough to convince Griffey to move to right field.

Positives: Decent OBP and excellent speed (stole 110 bases last 3 years at a 84% clip).  Very good defensively.

Negatives: A little old to be handing over the center field position to, but I believe he can give us 2 good years in center until Jay Bruce comes up.

My wild-ass guess at his price range: 2-3 years, $6-12 million


Juan Pierre
29 Years old
Positions: CF
2006 line: .292/.330/.388 (81 OPS+)
Last 3 years: .298/.343/.383

Normally I wouldn't be too interested in a guy like Juan Pierre.  For a guy that spends most of his time in the lead-off spot, his OBP is much too low.  This is mainly because while he's a good contact hitter, he's not a very patient hitter.  It's a shame that if he came to the Reds, he wouldn't have Chris Chambliss to work with, because he might be able to convince him to take a few pitches.

The primary reason Pierre is on this list is because of his defense.  If the Reds are ever going to convince Griffey to move out of center field, they are going to have to have a bona fide replacement for him, and I think that Pierre fits that bill.  For the right price, I'd be willing to sacrifice a little bit of offense to get the return benefit of drastically improving the defense in center field.

Positives: Great defense may get Griffey to move to a corner spot.  Brings some more speed to the team (stole 160 bases the last 3 years at a 72% clip).  Has two first names that are in different languages, that's unique.

Negatives: OBP is highly batting average driven, so if they hits aren't falling he isn't getting on base.  While his speed is good, he gets caught stealing a little too often.  Likely to be the most expensive player on this list, and much like Lugo, GMs will tend to over-value his skills.

My wild-ass guess at his price range: 4 years, $25-30 million


Rich Aurilia
35 Years old
Positions: 3B, 1B, SS, 2B
2006 line: .300/.349/.518 (112 OPS+)
Last 3 years: .277/.334/.441

I debated on Aurilia versus Alex Gonzalez in this last spot, but I decided that the Reds need to get some offense from somewhere, and Richie isn't terrible with the glove.  If they were to re-sign Aurilia, I think it would have to be in a role similar to what he played last year, but with more time at 2B than SS.  

Positives: Familiar to the team.  They know what to expect from him in terms of attitude and work ethic.  Has seen his power numbers improve over the last couple of seasons after some down years.

Negatives: The little tiff with Narron toward the end of the season seems like it may have been more than either side was leading on.  The up-and-down nature of his career makes him risky.

My wild-ass guess at his price range: 2 years, $6-8 million