Assuming the MLB Players Association and MLB owners can hash out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement by the December 1st deadline, there will be be no lockout to disrupt the usual happenings of the MLB offseason. That means that the Winter Meetings - currently scheduled for December 4th through 8th in Maryland - will go on without interruption, and that’s where a large portion of league-wide offseason moves either go down or get started.
Back in 2014, the Cincinnati Reds did much of the initial heavy lifting of this current rebuild during the Winter Meetings, trading both Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon on the same day in deals with the Miami Marlins and Detroit Tigers, respectively. Last year, the would-be trade that nearly sent Aroldis Chapman to the Los Angeles Dodgers was hatched during the Winter Meetings, though much of the legwork of the Todd Frazier trade a week later was done while all the GMs in baseball were under one roof.
There’s a lot less on the table for these Reds this year, what with most of the players who were on the potential trading block back in 2014 already out the door. Brandon Phillips is still around, and though he’s got 10/5 rights that can veto any trade, he’ll surely have his name pop up at least a time or two. Zack Cozart will similarly be watching with a bag packed, as the veteran SS is in his final year of team control and can surely see the writing on the rebuilt wall behind him. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, however, neither Cozart nor Phillips is the biggest trade piece on which the Reds will be listening this winter, as sources tell him they’re willing to consider trading Billy Hamilton, for the right price.
Before you freak out, sip your coffee and take a deep breath. This is not ‘Walt Jokerty filth flying filth tear down trade everyone clueless should of don’t know what tharr doing, rabble rabble farr everyone.’ There’s nothing concrete that Olney relays that suggests the Reds are calling other teams with eyes on moving Hamilton at all. Rather, it’s a team that’s obviously rebuilding doing the prudent thing in this situation: seeing how other teams value what they have and establishing an accurate market price. There are heavily saber-minded front offices out there who may place a much higher value on Hamilton than others thanks to his otherworldly glove, his 53.1 Defensive Runs Saved total being the third most in all of baseball regardless of position since the beginning of the 2014 season. Front offices across the league are also well aware that the arbitration process - through which Hamilton will be eligible for the first time this offseason - historically values dingers and RBI much more than defense and baserunning, and that Hamilton’s 2017 salary (and beyond) may well come at a deflated rate as a result.
Despite what Facebook fake news and Facebook comments have told you, the Reds front office knows these things quite well, too. With three years of team control over Hamilton, they damn well know there’s no urgency to move him, especially when you consider the in-house options to replace him in CF right now (there are none). But they’re surely aware that teams that consider themselves contenders yet rated woefully on team defense and baserunning ability last year - here’s looking at you, Baltimore - just might be willing to overpay.
Nobody looks to give away that $20 bill in their pocket, but if some fool comes up and offers you $35 for it, it’d behoove you to listen to that fool for a minute.
In other news, MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo listed 10 intriguing names to watch during next week’s Rule 5 Draft, and a pair of current Reds farmhands made the list. We detailed extensively how the Reds, who had accumulated piles of near-majors talent in their rebuilding process, faced tough decisions regarding their 40-man roster spots in the run-up to the Rule 5 Draft, and this is a pretty clear representation of that byproduct. Whether either actually gets selected is still obviously up in the air, but when you consider where Jake Cave stood when the Reds selected him this time last year, it’s not completely out of the realm of expectations.
(The Reds, for what its worth, have the #2 overall selection in the Rule 5 Draft, in case any of the other eight guys on that list make you drool.)
Over at Redleg Nation, Nick Kirby took a look at Steamer’s initial projections for Reds’ pitching in 2017, in case you’re still into projections given the last 21 days.
Alex Remington sifted through the group of players who quietly retired during the 2016 season for The Hardball Times, and there’s quite a large presence of recent Reds included in his great write-up. That’s pretty telling, really.
Finally, thank wonderful FanGraphs community member The Kudzu Kid for noticing this particular nugget of information about Reds’ reliever Michael Lorenzen, something that may well turn out to be something worth watching in earnest in the coming seasons.