Reds look to future
Griffey in their past, club getting preview of 2009 after trade of star
By John Fay • email@example.com
• August 1, 2008
WASHINGTON - The post-Ken Griffey Jr. era was set to begin when this season ended.
But the Chicago White Sox let the Reds jump-start their future Wednesday afternoon, when they made an inquiry that eventually led to a trade for the outfielder.
A deal for the Reds star quickly was worked out, and the post-Griffey era officially begins tonight when the Reds open a three-game series with Washington Nationals here.
The two players the Reds obtained - right-handed pitcher Nick Masset and minor-league infielder Danny Richar - aren't expected to have a great impact on this year's team. But the fact that the Reds traded their best-known - and one of their highest-paid - players for prospects suggests this team is at least retooling, if not rebuilding.
On Thursday, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said the team already had decided it wouldn't pick up the option on Griffey's contract for 2009. By trading Griffey this season, the team is in a position to see what its potential 2009 outfield might look like.
Starting tonight, Jay Bruce will go from center field to right. Jerry Hairston Jr. probably will come off the disabled list and start in center. Adam Dunn will start in left.
"It will give us a chance to see how that outfield works and evaluate for the future," Jocketty said.
If the mix works, the club might re-sign Dunn; his contract status is the next big decision facing the franchise. Leading up to Thursday's trade deadline, there was more speculation about Dunn being traded than about Griffey.
Dunn said he was relieved to still be a Red when the 4 p.m. non-waiver deadline passed. But he's a free agent after this season, and the Reds have not talked to his representatives about extending his contract, he said.
"I don't know what's going on there," Dunn said. "It's one of those things. I haven't heard anything from anyone."
Jocketty sounded as if he were open to the idea of Dunn returning to the Reds.
Dunn is having a much better season than Griffey. Dunn's hitting .243 with a major league-leading 32 home runs and 74 RBI. Griffey's hitting .245 with 15 home runs and 53 RBI.
But Dunn's not the only potential free agent on the Reds' roster - there are 12 in all, including key contributors such as Hairston; pitchers David Weathers, Mike Lincoln and Jeremy Affeldt; and catchers David Ross, Paul Bako and Javier Valentin.
So Cincinnati remains a team in flux. Jocketty said the Reds had a chance to make other deals but chose not to.
"We thought we were better off holding on to our players and trying to win as many games as we can," he said.
And how the Reds fare in their remaining 53 games this season will affect what they do during the offseason. Heading into tonight's game, Cincinnati is 51-58.
As for the new Reds, Masset, a 26-year-old right-hander, will go on the roster and be used as a reliever. He was 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA and one save with the White Sox this season.
Richar, a 25-year-old infielder, has been assigned to Triple-A Louisville. He hit .262 with nine homers for Triple-A Charlotte.
"Masset is a guy our scouts liked as an amateur," Jocketty said. "They like his arm, his versatility. (Danny) Richar is a guy I liked in the past. We looked at him when I was in St. Louis."
Masset will be used in relief for now, but the Reds could use him as a starter.
Jocketty said Bob Castellini, the Reds' chief executive officer, was supportive of Thursday's action.
"We felt it was best for the long-term future," he said. "We're getting players we control for a number of years. We're kind of retooling."