The Reds have fallen short in their pursuit of utility infielder Craig Counsell. The Brewers announced on Monday that Counsell had agreed to a one-year deal with the club and will therefore be returning to Milwaukee in 2010.
Cincinnati was one of a handful of teams in heavy pursuit of Counsell this winter. However, by the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday, it had become quite clear that the Brewers remained the frontrunners to land the infielder.
Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has made it no secret that he would like to add an infielder to the club this offseason, and Counsell had the two characteristics that Jocketty valued most. He is a utility infielder who can play the shortstop position well, and he hits left-handed.
The 39-year-old infielder has shown he's still productive with the bat. A career .259 hitter, Counsell finished with a .285 average and 39 RBIs in 130 games for the Brewers last year.
With Counsell off the market, the Reds are now left to evaluate other options, and there may not be many external ones left. The Reds do not have the financial means to make a push for a shortstop like Orlando Cabrera or Miguel Tejada. And while there are a number of other free-agent infielders on the market, most are not ideal fits because of concerns about their being able to play short.
Jocketty will continue to try to exhaust outside options, but the Reds' inability to lure Counsell to Cincinnati could mean that the club may be forced to stick with Paul Janish at short. Janish is an above-average defender, so there are certainly no concerns on that end. Janish's bat, however, remains an issue for a team that is looking for more production from the spot.
Janish hit just .211 with one home run and 16 RBIs in 256 at-bats in 2009, after batting just .188 the year before. In five Minor League seasons, Janish combined to hit .261.