The Reds started this off-season by lowering expectations. Almost from the get-go they let us know that they didn't have a lot of money to spend, so don't expect any big signings. But while all of that was happening, General Manager Walt Jocketty was working the phones in the background. Let's take a look at how the off-season panned out:
The Reds mainly did a bunch of roster shuffling with minor leaguers in November. They needed to get the roster all lined up for the Rule 5 draft, so they cleaned out some chaff (Kevin Barker, Darnell McDonald, Corky Miller, and Justin Lehr) and moved some guys off the of the 60-day DL (Edinson Volquez and Mike Lincoln). They finished out the 40-man roster by adding seven minor leaguers including Chris Valaika, Chris Heisey, Travis Wood, and Logan Ondrusek.
The one big league signing that they made was the re-signing of catcher Ramon Hernandez to a $3 million deal with a $3.25 million option for 2011 that becomes guaranteed if he plays 120 games in '10. Reactions were mixed. Justin called it a "decent little bargain."
Both Kip Wells and Laynce Nix filed for free agency and Craig Tatum was picked up by the Baltimore Orioles. Lehr and Wilkin Castillo were re-signed and assigned to the minor leagues.
The Reds signed free agent shortstop Chris Burke to a minor league deal. Jonny Gomes filed for free agency after the Reds decided to not offer him arbitration. Nix was re-signed to a minor league deal.
It was about this time that we started figuring that nothing was going to happen with the Reds this off-season. Then the Reds pulled a surprising move and signed Scott Rolen to a 2-year extension that reworked he current deal so that he would only make $7.7 million in 2010 instead of $11 million. We were generally happy about the deal.
The biggest thing about the Rolen deal was that the Reds would be saving some money in 2010, which likely meant they wouldn't have to dump a contract or two - though don't bother trying to tell that to a Mets fan, who are still convinced Bronson Arroyo or Aaron Harang is coming to them with Brandon Phillips for Luis Castillo any day now.
The new year started off with a flurry as the Reds signed speedy (and not much else) outfielder Josh Anderson to a minor league deal. It was a signing that felt like the same old, same old from the Reds. Oddly though, around the same time the Reds were starting to be mentioned in rumors for a young Cuban left-hander named Aroldis Chapman.
On January 11th, those rumors became truth as the Reds announced the signing of the 22-year old fire-baller. Reds fans frankly didn't know what to think. But we were certainly excited. The deal was for 5 years at $30.25 million with a player option for a 6th year at $5 million. There are lots of clauses and such all over the deal, but the money is somewhat spread out as over half of the guaranteed money is in a signing bonus that is paid over 10 years. Despite what John Heyman thinks, this was a good deal for the Reds and possibly the biggest outside free agent signing in team history. It showed the Reds were serious about using money to sign amateurs out of Latin America, a strategy they've been developing for a couple of years.
The Reds watched Ben Sheets work out and Miguel Tejada signed with the Orioles, which meant one more shortstop was unavailable. Silly rumors about Johnny Damon sprang up and fizzled. Miguel Cairo was signed to a minor league deal on the 27th.
The month started with a bang as Willy Taveras and Adam Rosales were traded to the Oakland A's for Aaron Miles and a player to be named later. There was much joy in Redsland, though Justin reminded us that the man we got back was no great shakes.
The Reds finished off the off-season action by signing Kip Wells to a minor league deal.
And that's where we stand. The Reds didn't do much to make over the roster for 2010. Orlando Cabrera is likely the only new everyday player. However, they did do some work on building for the future. So, what grade do you give Jocketty and staff for the work they did this winter?