I think they'd like to get rid of one of the big contracts, but Bob won't want to do too much damage to our perceived commitment to winning in the process.
- With Volquez out, that takes Harang and Arroyo off the table.
- The casual fans would likely revolt if Phillips (or I imagine that's the perception internally).
- Rolen? No way.
So in terms of big deals, that only leaves Cordero. I suppose one of the big market teams could afford him, but I doubt they'd pay full value. For us to get anything of value in return, we'd need to pay a big chunk of salary. The only team I could see taking on his full salary is the Yankees. I'm quite doubtful that happens.
The only other options for clearing payroll include the moderately priced guys. Taveras and Lincoln have zero trade value; no cost savings to be had there. Gomes (if retained or offered arbitration) and Rhodes do have trade value. I could definitely see Gomes traded in the Spring after getting a few million in arbitration.
Fundamentally, the Reds, as with most small and mid-market teams, are scared to death to trade their players that have the most value for fear of appearing to not care about winning and alienating their fans. That leaves them in a catch 22 where they find it very difficult to acquire talent through trades.
Getting back to the question, I don't think the Reds really need to shed payroll unless there are cash flow problems. The reality is that we shouldn't be in the business of buying wins at full price in free agency. It is horribly inefficient and a poor use of resources. The only reason we'll need cash is to start paying Votto, Bruce, Cueto, Volquez , and Bailey in the next few years. But those align pretty well with the big contracts we'll have coming off the books. I'm not too worried about our payroll situation.
I am worried about our talent situation. This team needs to add 10 net wins worth of talent to the major league roster to be a playoff caliber team. We aren't going to get those wins in free agency. We might get them through player development, but that's going to require a lot of things going right at the same time and the Volquez injury already sticks us behind the 8-ball there.
Frankly, I think the Reds need to move a few of their top 10 prospects to capitalize on the current roster and better align the talent base with the needs of the big league club. Trading youth for other youth or pre/early arb major league talent opens up the possibilities. I'd be shopping Alonso in particular to acquire a SS. Sitting on our hands and waiting for player developement will simply extend the convey belt process. By the time the next crop is ready, Phillips, Rolen, Harang, and Arroyo will be gone and we'll merely be replacing their production. We need to do something to add production to the major league roster now.