Brennaman deal may be free-agency omen
BY JOHN FAY | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Signing Thom Brennaman to join his father, Marty, in the Reds' radio booth was the latest example of how important it is to have a visible owner.
Had owner Bob Castellini not been involved in the wooing process, Brennaman still would be employed by the Diamondbacks.
Having him in the booth is not going to win the Reds one game, but the fact that Castellini and Co. were able to get the No. 1 guy on their list bodes well for future endeavors, i.e., signing free agents.
"If this is any indication - and I'm not so bold as to believe that the broadcaster is a big deal - but if this is any indication of the way this franchise is starting to operate, it says to the fans in this city and around this entire region that this franchise is coming back," Thom Brennaman said. "It will be at the top again. You can mark it down."
Thom Brennaman credited Castellini and COO John Allen for getting the deal done to bring him home.
"I know a lot of you understand this, but I can't stress enough having worked in big markets, medium markets, small markets, that there's a lot going on with this Reds franchise, thanks to this guy here," Thom Brennaman said about Castellini.
Getting free agents comes down to money and, well, money. With all things being equal, having an owner who is involved and committed to winning is a huge plus. It was a factor in outfielder Adam Dunn signing a three-year deal last year.
Because they have holes, the Reds figure to be a factor in free agency.
Under Castellini, don't expect bottom-feeder shopping.
That's not to say the Reds will compete with the big-market clubs in buying players. The biggest reason for that is they don't have a ton of money to throw around.
Castellini says the club will budget to break even. Because of the new television contract and a 10 percent bump in attendance, the payroll will go up substantially. My guess is into the $75 million range.
They have 10 players who will combine to make just under $50 million next year. The arbitration-eligible players - pitchers Aaron Harang and Kyle Lohse and catcher David Ross - will get another $11 million or so. Even if everyone else on the roster made the big-league minimum, that would put the payroll at $65 million.
That would leave $10 million for shopping if the payroll went to $75 million. The Reds need a closer and a shortstop, and $10 million doesn't buy what it used to.
Of course, general manager Wayne Krivsky isn't averse to trades. The bulk of the money committed for next year goes to four players: Ken Griffey Jr. ($12.5 million, although half is deferred), Dunn ($10.5 million), Eric Milton ($9 million) and Jason LaRue ($5.2 million).
Trade any of the four and it creates flexibility. The problem is Dunn is probably the only one tradable, and his value is down after an off year.
UPDATES: Krivsky said he hasn't talked with infielder Rich Aurilia's agent recently. The Reds and Aurilia hold a mutual option for $2 million.
On the coaching front, look for the staff to come back pretty much intact. The delay has been working with pitching coach Vern Ruhle, who continues to undergo treatment for cancer. He'll probably move into a minor-league instructor role in Sarasota, where he lives in the offseason.
MORE HIRES: Krivsky continues to add to the scouting operation. He hired Tony Arias, formerly with Toronto, to scout Latin America, and Pat Kelly, formerly with Atlanta, as a special assignment scout/Gulf Coast League manager.