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Hot Stove Hustle - What's Left for the Good Guys?

The Hot Stove moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and shop around once in a while, you could miss it.

Brandon Carta Canoly Grail.
Brandon Carta Canoly Grail.
Joe Robbins

Free Agents have been gobbled up faster than Spaghetti-O's at the Charlie Scrabbles household, and the already shallow market is drying up by the hour.  Already this morning we've seen that the New York Yankees have agreed to re-sign P Hiroki Kuroda to another one year deal, the New York Mets have inked OF Curtis Granderson for $60 million over 4 years, and even the Houston Astros got in on the action by signing P Scott Feldman to a 3 year, $30 million deal for some obtuse reason.

And, of course, the Seattle Mariners Jay-Z'd their way into a 10 year, $240 million contract with 2B Robinson Cano.  A 10 year, $240 million contract with 2B Robinson Cano.  Seattle.  The Seattle Mariners signed Robinson Cano, a 2B, for 10 years and $240 million.


Simultaneously, the Yankees let one of their stars leave for the first time in their modern history while the Mariners, who have either traded away or been spurned by former stars like Ken Griffey, Jr, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Shin-Soo Choo, just signed one guy for more than the $239.8 million they'd spent in the last 8 offseasons combined.  If you're a fan of the Cincinnati Reds, this should both excite and terrify you.

To recap what little information we've manage to glean from Walt Jocketty's limited, cryptic interviews with John Fay and C. Trent Rosecrans, the Reds would like to re-sign Choo but have limited payroll space to accommodate his salary, and that any additional moves to bolster the roster will likely be made via trades.  Also, we've heard from countless sources that 2B Brandon Phillips is likely to be shopped this offseason due to his salary and frothy relationship with management, and despite recent semi-assurances from Jocketty in the press, that's likely still the case.

So what, exactly, have today's moves and the big money signings of late last week done to affect the the offseason course charted by the Reds front office?

The Cano signing likely impacts the Reds more than anything, as the Yankees are now in need of a 2B.  While they've been linked with Phillips in the past, they've also been linked with FA 2B Omar Infante, too, who will likely be signable at a cheaper rate than Phillips is currently on the hook for and also won't require them to trade away a piece in the acquisition.  Also, current Mariners 2B Nick Franklin, a former Top 30 prospect coming off just his rookie season, is also now firmly available to muddy the 2B waters at a much more affordable rate.  If the Yankees were truly unwilling to go past $175 million for Cano due to luxury tax issues, it's no sure bet that they'll be willing to take on the $50 million still owed to Phillips in addition to any other FA signings.  They've already been linked with Choo and Beltran, so there's certainly a chance they'll pursue an option cheaper than BP.

The Granderson deal of this morning, in addition to Jacoby Ellsbury signing for over $150 million with the Yankees last week, doesn't exactly help the Reds' situation much, either.  If the primary purpose of getting out from under the 4 years and $50 million owed to Phillips was to use that money to target Choo, well, the Reds would still need to find some $75 million more to get Choo back in the fold.  Not only have the Yankees emerged as an additional suitor for the former Reds' CF, but the Mariners now seem interested, too.  Given that Ellsbury, Choo, and Granderson were the three biggest FA OFs on the market this year and that the two that have signed have agreed to contracts larger than most expected, it doesn't bode well for getting Choo back on any sort of deal that would make Phillips be the one more overpaid.

So I'm not exactly sure that any of this flurry of activity has helped the Reds, per se.  The deals have made Brandon Phillips seem more affordable, but they've also made the targets the Reds would chase if free from Phillips' contract that much more unattainable.  I trust Walt Jocketty to sift through it all, though, and when he rolls into the Winter Meetings this weekend he'll have plenty on his agenda with still plenty of assets with which he can work.  Things are getting pricey out there.