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MLB Winter Meetings News & Notes - Dodgers need a shortstop?

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Cincinnati Reds v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds have a shortstop. The Cincinnati Reds have a tallstop. As Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer relayed over the weekend, Elly De La Cruz - resident tallstop - is a shortstop by trade who is more than willing to play anywhere he’s asked to play.

“Wherever the team needs me, that’s where I’m going to play,” Elly said through interpreter Jorge Merlos. The star rookie spent the entirety of his first big league season split between shortstop and third base, his rocket of an arm profiling perfectly for the left side of the infield. But with the likes of Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Matt McLain, Noelvi Marte, and Jonathan India all on-board as infielders for the time being, the ability to play all across the diamond - and maybe even on the grass - is something that’s going to guarantee both playing time daily and help the team unlock its best lineups.

That versatility - and health, obviously - is what led Spencer Steer to the team lead in PA during the 2023 season, him getting starts all over the infield and outfield as needed. And with Elly being a switch-hitter, his ability to move around as needed would make him a key cog in the lineup regardless of pitcher faced or overall team health.

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I’m not suggesting Elly is a target for the Los Angeles Dodgers, much as I’m sure the Dodgers would like to hope he was. That doesn’t mean that a) the MLB Winter Meetings haven’t already begun and b) we’re hearing the Dodgers may be on the search for an upgrade at shortstop. As relayed by The Athletic’s Fabian Ardayai in a wide-ranging piece, the Dodgers “could upgrade” from the likes of Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor, and Miguel Rojas, as each enters 2024 with question marks about their ability to comfortably cover the most important position on the infield.

Willy Adames is the obvious name mentioned here, what with Milwaukee expected to scale back a bit from their players who are getting expensive while carrying almost no remaining team control. It’s simply hard for me not to notice that the Reds have a trio of players capable of playing shortstop at the big league level and Edwin Arroyo advancing rapidly behind them while the Dodgers perhaps engage in a search. The Dodgers, by the way, have a wealth of young, cheap pitching.

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Old friend Wade Miley is also an old friend of the Brewers, and it appears he’s going to be extra friendly with the Reds division rivals again in 2024. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman clued us in that the Beers and Miley were getting close to inking a 1-year deal last night, and expectations are that we’ll see that finalized in the coming days.

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The Seattle Mariners and Atlanta Braves struck the first major trade of the Winter Meetings late last night, with Atlanta acquiring OF Jarred Kelenic, pitcher Marco Gonzales, and 1B Evan White for pitchers Jackson Kowar and Cole Phillips. Seattle Times writer Ryan Divish had the news, with Atlanta also receiving a yet-undisclosed amount of cash to help cover the roughly $30 million remaining on the deals for White and Gonzales.

It’s a cash-dump for Seattle, mainly, something that they’ve been doing often this winter (after dealing Eugenio Suarez to Arizona). Kowar had already been dumped by the Royals to Atlanta this winter after mostly crashing out in Kansas City as a former 1st round pick, while Phillips has yet to throw a professional pitch after Tommy John surgery following his 2nd round selection by Atlanta in 2022. Thing is, Seattle is ultimately planning to increase payroll in 2024, per Divish’s Seattle Times colleague Adam Judge, which certainly makes these moves around the margins that much more interesting in the long-term.

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Is there going to be a deal? I don’t know the answer to that.”

Thus said Reds front office boss Nick Krall to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, who revealed that yesterday as part of his own Winter Meetings primer.

That was in response to being asked if the Reds had another deal up their sleeves as the Winter Meetings began, and is a pretty obvious ‘reveal nothing’ answer from Krall. After signing Nick Martinez and Emilio Pagan, the Reds have shown their hand to other teams and agents that they’re serious about making additions this winter, and a quick glance at their roster makes it obvious that there are still gaping holes that need addressing. Given their payroll flexibility and deep, deep farm system, it’s hard to imagine other teams seeing Cincinnati’s hand and not calling Krall five times a day to try to get him to budge on something, anything.

It still seems like the biggest bugaboos for the Reds are a) a rock-solid, everyday addition to the rotation, b) a right-handed hitting bat for the outfield mix, c) sorting out the infield logjam, and d) upgrading the pizza options in GABP. There are ways to be opportunistic in each of these ventures, especially if they’d like me to talk to Blue Pan out here and work on getting them their own stand down the third base line. As for a, b, and c, well, I’m as interested as any of you whether we see progress on those fronts during the next three days.

Dylan Cease, it would appear, might be a player in which the Reds might have interest. That’s per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, who lists the Reds among (many) clubs who are checking on Cease and the rebuilding Chicago White Sox.

Much like the Reds when they were obviously rebuilding yet had the likes of Raisel Iglesias, Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, and Tyler Mahle, obvious ‘buyers’ are going to be ‘linked’ to obvious ‘sellers’ throughout this entire process, because that’s simply how shopping works. That does not mean there’s concrete, tangible interest in making deals at the actual asking prices, of course, but a team would be outright negligent not to at least inquire when in need of pitching and a pitcher of Cease’s caliber is on the trading block.