Quick offseason start, but money matters
BY JOHN FAY | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The week that began so loudly for the Reds ended quietly.
After signing free-agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez and reliever Mike Stanton and trading Jason LaRue on Tuesday, the Reds stayed off the transaction wire the rest of the week.
Wayne Krivsky said after the flurry of activity Tuesday that he was far from finished.
But the guess here is that the Reds aren't going to do a lot more as far as free agents are concerned. The club is keeping its player payroll a secret, but I'd be stunned if it reaches $80 million.
Reds CEO Bob Castellini says the new ownership budgets to break even. I'm no accountant, but if the Reds broke even with a payroll that was $60.9 million for the 25-man roster at the start of the 2006 season, they're not going to go to $80 million in '07 and break even. That's despite the added money from a new television contract and a bump in ticket prices.
Krivsky wouldn't talk about the payroll or free-agency plans Saturday.
But for the sake of argument, let's say the Reds' payroll will be $70 million. The club already has $49.225 million committed to 11 players: Ken Griffey Jr. ($12.5 million), Adam Dunn ($10.5 million), Eric Milton ($9 million), Bronson Arroyo ($3.8 million), Gonzalez ($3.5 million), Rheal Cormier ($2.25 million), Stanton ($2 million), Ryan Freel ($1.7 million), Scott Hatteberg ($1.65 million), Javier Valentin ($1.325 million) and Juan Castro ($1 million).
Add the $3 million the Reds are paying toward the salary of the departed LaRue, and you're at $52.225 million.
The Reds also have two big-ticket arbitration-eligible players in Aaron Harang and Kyle Lohse. Harang made $2.35 million last year. He led the National League in strikeouts and complete games and tied for the lead in wins.
The way arbitration works, he could ask for the moon and the Reds would be forced to counter with a slightly smaller celestial body.
Lohse made $3.95 million last year. He didn't have the kind of year Harang did. But with arbitration, there are no losers. And Lohse is in his third year of arbitration.
David Ross is also eligible. He made only $500,000 last year, but with the year he had, he'll be up to a million easily.
So say Harang gets $8 million, Lohse $6 million and Ross $1 million. That puts the Reds at $67 million, and they still have 11 roster spots to fill.
The rest of the roster will be filled with guys making $400,000 or less, but they're probably not going to push the payroll north of $70 million.
Krivsky guards what he's doing as if it's a state secret. But he did say the Reds probably will add a right-handed bat.
Hatteberg rarely started at first base against left-handers last season. Someone like Eduardo Perez, who made $1.75 million, would be a fit. Shea Hillenbrand would make sense as well. The fact that he plays third base also makes him very attractive, but he made $5.8 million last season.
Craig Wilson is also out there. He could be cheaper after he struggled in the second half.
As I mentioned above, I'd be stunned if the Reds went to an $80 million payroll. But Castellini is so competitive that after watching the Houston Astros sign Carlos Lee for $100 million over six years and the Chicago Cubs sign Alfonzo Soriano for $136 million over eight years, he might decide to do something drastic.
TOP 10 LIST: Baseball Prospectus recently came out with its list of top 10 Reds prospects:
1. Homer Bailey, RH
2. Jay Bruce, RF
Very good prospects:
3. Joey Votto, 1B
4. Drew Stubbs, CF
5. Johnny Cueto, RHP
6. Travis Wood, LHP
7. Sean Watson, LHP
8. Milton Loo, SS/3B
9. Chris Valaika, SS
10. Paul Janish, SS
There are no surprises on the list. But the good news for Reds fans is how highly Bailey and Bruce are regarded.
"While (Edwin) Encarnacion is one of the most interesting young talents around, Bailey and Bruce are both elite prospects with impact potential, giving the Reds arguably the top single-pitching/single-hitting prospect combination in the game," the Prospectus said.
You can find the analysis at baseballprospectus.com
Wow that didn't take long. I would say this should end all of the Zito talk.
$8 Million for Harrang sounds high, and so does $6 Million for Loshe.
Either way there is not much money left.