In any case, the outcome of the Reds' offseason may hinge on Choo and Phillips. Choo's suitors could include everyone from the Cubs to the Mets to the Astros. GM Walt Jocketty has said that re-signing Choo might be tricky. But the Reds might be able to manage it, perhaps by saving money in a Phillips trade and allowing Arroyo to depart via free agency.
For Phillips, one destination could be Atlanta, with the Braves potentially shipping Dan Uggla and a prospect to Cincinnati. Uggla's home-run power would likely play well at the Great American Ballpark, but he would be a big defensive downgrade, and he hit .179/.309/.362 last season. The Reds would have to make up the difference between Phillips and Uggla elsewhere on the diamond, and that wouldn't be easy. Phillips may give the Reds headaches, but by attempting to trade him, they may just be creating another one. Despite playing a corner outfielder in center field, the Reds led baseball in defensive efficiency in 2013. Their fielding was a boon for their pitchers, who posted an ERA nearly half a run lower than their FIP. It would be odd if the Reds began their offseason by replacing one of their most valuable defensive players.
The Uggla rumor might be an unlikely one -- he wouldn't save the Reds money, at least not through 2015, so swapping him for Phillips would be an unambiguous step backwards for the Reds that wouldn't give them much chance of making up for it in the short term. But in any case, the Reds will have to be creative this offseason. They could sign a starting pitcher, then deal from their rotation depth for help in the outfield. Bailey, who is set for free agency after the 2014 season, is a wild card; the Reds could trade him, or try to sign him to a long-term deal. The Reds begin their offseason with a number of balls in the air, and when April comes, it's unclear who will be around to catch them.