But payroll concerns may keep team from free-agent outfielder
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Perhaps the Reds aren't finished making maneuvers after all.
They still in need some bench depth, and one possibility could be veteran outfielder Luis Gonzalez. In recent weeks, it's believed that Gonzalez and his agent also made strong overtures that he would like to play for Cincinnati.
"We're still looking to improve our bench and find the right guys. He's a guy we like," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said, when asked about Gonzalez. "We're exploring every option, and if the right fit comes around, we'll take a look at it."
Gonzalez is 41 and a veteran of 19 Major League seasons and has a reputation for being a positive clubhouse influence. He also remains a productive hitter.
Last season in 136 games for the Marlins, Gonzalez batted .261 with eight home runs and 47 RBIs. Over his career with the Astros, Cubs, Tigers, Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Marlins, the five-time All-Star has 354 home runs, including a career-high 57 with Arizona in 2001.
After the front office announced last week that the Reds had reached their payroll limit for 2009, no more acquisitions were expected. Cincinnati has $61.875 million allocated to 11 players, including reliever David Weathers, who re-signed Wednesday. Add the arbitration case that is pending with third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, and the signing of 0-3-year (non-arbitration-eligible) players, and the payroll is expected to be around the $74 million figure it was in 2008.
However with more than 100 free agents -- an unheard-of number -- still available as of Thursday with about two weeks before Spring Training opens, the market could be teeming with serious bargains.
Among the other veterans still looking for teams that could fill a pinch-hitter's role are Jim Edmonds, Kevin Millar, Rich Aurilia and Daryle Ward.
With the Reds' 40-man roster full, any additions would likely be offered Minor League contracts with an invite to big league camp.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.