All 30 MLB teams will have until 11:59 PM ET Wednesday to decide whether or not to tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players, and that means that the Cincinnati Reds will have another day or so to make a pair of contract decisions. The biggest decision they'll face is likely the easiest, though, since it's a near no-brainer that they'll opt to keep Zack Cozart around despite the devastating knee injury that cut short what had been a breakout season for him in 2015. Yes, Eugenio Suarez showed competence as a potential replacement for Cozart, and that has led many to call for him to get the starting SS nod in 2016, but while that may render Cozart the lesser of the two players, it doesn't mean he suddenly becomes worthless. It's a prudent move to strike a deal with the 2nd year arb-eligible player for a salary around $3 million, since even if he loses the job to Suarez he'll carry enough trade value to make that salary movable.
The decision on whether Ryan Mattheus is brought back is a bit murkier, though, since the 32 year old didn't really impress in 2015. He'll only be in line to make a bit over a million bucks in 2016, and while that's relative chump-change in today's baseball world, the Reds aren't going anywhere next year and have an army of younger, cheaper arms that may warrant more prominent bullpen roles.
As for the other two arb-eligible players on the Reds roster, both Aroldis Chapman and J.J. Hoover are obviously going to be tendered contracts. Had the Reds not removed Sam LeCure from the roster last month, he too would've been up for a decision, but the team got that out of the way early.
While the Reds don't have any high profile decisions to make before Wednesday night's deadline, there are several big name players that may be cut loose to enter the free agent market. MLB Trade Rumors has a pretty extensive list of those players whose salaries may have reached a level where tendering them doesn't make sense for their current teams, and it represents the bargain-bin of reclamation projects that just might fit the Reds strategy in their rebuilding 2016 season. One name that stands out as a potential fit is Michael Saunders, a player who could help fill the never-ending void in LF for Cincinnati as well as cover CF if Billy Hamilton continues to flounder. Saunders had a solid start to his career with the Seattle Mariners, but after being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays prior to the 2015 season for J.A. Happ, a knee injury wiped out any chance he had to establish himself, and now he's staring at a potential non-tender at age 29. He's a more injured, higher upside play than Brennan Boesch was this time a year ago, and may be worth taking a flier on should he hit the open market.
In other news, former Reds ace Johnny Cueto reportedly turned down a 6 year, $120 million contract offer from the Arizona Diamondbacks last week. Take that, Tony La Russa.
The Reds signed a pair of minor league free agents last week that you'll likely never see in a Cincinnati uniform. At least let's hope.
Over at FanGraphs, Nathaniel Grow explores the concept of a salary cap in MLB as part of an ongoing look at revenue distribution in the game today. Grow acknowledges that it's purely a theoretical piece given the historic structure of baseball contracts, but it's interesting to look at it in light of baseball's increasingly stuffed coffers and the decreasing percentage of that cash that's being redirected towards player salaries.
Ken Griffey, Jr. is about to be a Hall of Famer, and SI's Jay Jaffe looked back at The Kid's career. Junior was at the top of everyone my age's favorite player lists growing up, and it's hard to believe it's been that long since he took the baseball world by storm. Jaffe, per usual, put together a great read, so read it.
Finally, the Boston Red Sox signed lefty-masher Chris Young, which simply adds to their already jam-packed OF situation. They shed Manuel Margot in their acquisition of Craig Kimbrel three weeks ago, but they're still loaded with Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, and Jackie Bradley, Jr. all slated for major playing time. Add in the presence of Brock Holt and the fast-tracking of top prospect Andrew Benintendi, and the Red Sox have a brewing log jam of outfielders at their disposal. The Reds need outfielders - they've had the single most godawful bunch of them in all of baseball over the last two full seasons - and it's never not fun to speculate on potential trades given Dave Dombrowski's wheeling, dealing history.