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Final Hot Stove League Rankings: "Justin case"

"I'm dreadfully sorry, Tiny Tim Kurkjian, but we've barely enough shillings to bring home a Rhodes Beast." Bob Crachitstellini, A Christmas Carol IV: The Mysterious Island

We've run out of fuel for the hot stove, at least for now. I've already broken down all the furniture and Charlie Scrabbles fed it his least favorite encyclopedia volumes (Zach Morris - Zamboni and QWERTYUIOP - QZZXZX). To turn the page, I wanted to take one last look at the acquisition picture for the Reds this offseason. While close observers may be as tired of idle payroll speculation as the team's lack of activity, there's a discussion to be had as to whether, given limited means, it might not be such a bad idea to stand pat and let the young guys play.

At this point, I don't see much reason - or capacity - to chase after anyone this side of Justin Upton or Matt Kemp. Almost anyone else available to the Reds is a marginal improvement that might only barely justify the cost - which, in most cases, includes forgoing Rhodes. By all outward appearances, the Reds are playing within these boundaries. They haven't pursued Greinke or Reyes because they can't. And they can't not only for lack of cash, but for the volume of prospects that players like Greinke and Reyes command, especially in thin markets for starting pitchers and shortstops. It's a big leap to assume Kemp or Upton are available - and from there, you have to ask: is that holding on to pitching depth the smarter play vs. significantly upgrading at one position?

In the spirit of perpetual hope and goodwill toward trade partners, here's a final ranking of players the Reds might still consider (at an upper limit of $5M). If the Reds get lucky with settlements for their arbitration eligible players (and pass on Arthur Rhodes) here's who I believe still may in be in play, across both SS and LF.

The discussion is probably shifting now to putting the names Alonso (as LF), Frazier, Heisey, Gomes, Sappelt AND Janish, Cozart and Negron into a depth chart, with the faint reminder that, less than a year a go, on Chapmansmas Day, Walt was better than his word. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.

Final Standings:

After the jump.

Rank Name June 2011 Age Contract Details 2010 slash line
2010 WAR 2010 Value ($)
Avg value, last 3 yrs ($)
Speculative Reds Offer
1 Justin Upton
23 $4.25M in 2011 (Signed thru 2015)
.273/.356/.442 (571 PAs)
Alonso, Leake, Mesoraco
2 Matt Kemp 26 $6.95M in '11 (final year of arb in '12)
.249/.310/.450 (668 PAs)
0.4 $1.5M $12.7M Alonso, Bailey, Heisey
3 Stephen Drew 28
Arb-eligible .278/.352/.458
$15.2M Leake, Mesoraco
4 Josh Willingham 32 Arb-eligible .268/.389/.459 (450 PAs)
2.7 $11.0 $11.7M Alonso, Francisco, Maloney
5 Sean Rodriguez 26
Pre-arb .251/.308/.397 (378 PA)
N/A Heisey, Valaika
6 Luke Scott 33 Arb-eligible .284/.368/.535 (517 PAs)
3.1* $12.5M $9.4M Reds receive Scott in PR dump, immediately traded straight up to AZ for Justin Upton
7 Connor Jackson 29 Arb-eligible .228/.362/.316 0.3 $1.2M $3.5M Valaika, Dorn, LeCure
8 Brad Hawpe 32 FA
.245/.338/.419 0.5
$2M $2.1M 1 yr/$3M
9 Marco Scutaro 35
$5M in '11, $6M club option/$3M player option ($1.5M buyout) in '12
.275/.333/.388 (695 PA)
$13.8M Ondrusek, Valaika
Everth Cabrera 24
N/A Sappelt