Re: Reds Free Agents and Arbitration eligibles...
Dunn (option), Phillips (arbitration), Belisle (arbitration), Hatteberg (option), Cantu (arbitration), and Valentin (arbitration) are the guys I'd bring back.
Dunn and Phillips are obvious, and I'd actually look to extend Dunn long term beyond the 2008 option (or scrap the 2008 option and sign him long term anyway).
Belisle pitched quite a bit better than the traditional pitching metrics indicate, and that should help keep his salary very much in the bargain range. The Reds should get him fairly cheap next season, and he's a guy I'm looking at possibly putting up numbers similar to an average MLB starter.
Cantu should be cheap, and even though I loathe his offensive game (lack of walks), the team could really use a right-handed bat off the bench who can start a handful of games at first base.
I'm not a big fan of Valentin by any means, but there's a dearth of catchers out there and the only in-house option is well ... David Ross. Perhaps a guy like Hanigan can step up, but I probably wouldn't look to dump Valentin and depend on Hanigan or somebody else popping up. Plus, even though the Reds called up Hanigan, they rarely used him, which to me is an indicator that they don't consider him much more than a third string catcher or possibly a backup at best.
Hatteberg's the interesting one to me simply based off what he's supposedly stated about hoping to get a shot starting somewhere. If I'm the Reds, I'm trying to contact Hatteberg and his agent in an effort to persuade him to stay around beyond his playing years. What I'd like the Reds to do is pick up Hatteberg's 2008 option, start him sparingly/insurance policy for Votto, and let him become one of the NL's premier pinch hitters. If Hatteberg and Cantu are both on the bench, then the bench strength would be significantly improved.
Furthermore, I'd like to know what kind of longterm plans Hatteberg has. He's a guy I'd like to see kept in the organization in some capacity beyond his playing days. The best case scenario would be to transition him from starter (2006-07) to bench player (2008-??) to some front office/coaching position after retiring. Of course, the key would be to get him off the active roster and into a coaching spot/front office spot before he turns into a Juan Castro, but I doubt it'd get to that.
Saarloos, Ellison, Milton, Guardado, Bellhorn ... don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Barry Larkin - HOF, 2012
Put an end to the Lost Decade.