It’s only November 3, but we’ve seen lots of threads suggesting some big moves for the Reds this off-season. While I‘m as excited as anyone for Justin Upton, Michael Bourn, Shin Soo Choo, Matt Garza, Torii Hunter and others, the reality of the Reds situation is that they have probably spent most of this year's budget with extensions for Votto, Bruce, Cueto, Marshall, Masset, Hanigan, Phillips and Arroyo and looming arb cases for major guys like Latos and Bailey as well as guys who played significant roles like Leake, Stubbs and Heisey.
As much as I’d like to see a big fish or two, the likelihood is that the Reds will be improving at the margins through targeted guys who fit needs but are more likely comeback bets, odd men out in their current situations or on the scrap heap. This thread is for your bargain basement suggestions. I’ll Start with a few:
1. Wilson Betemit, 3B, Baltimore - Manny Machado has made Betemit excess baggage in Baltimore. While he’s no world beater, he does have a career OPS over .820 in over 1,700 PAs against RHP. He‘s a switch-hitter who could be used against LHP if need be, but his purpose is to hit against RHP. He’s not a great defender, but in addition to 3B, can still play SS in a pinch and has played a bit at 1B and LF. IF Scott Rolen decides he wants to come back in a part-time role, Betemit may be the perfect guy to share 3B with him. This would free Frazier to fill the hole created in LF by Ryan Ludwick’s free agency. Betemit is signed for around $1.5 Million for 2013 and should be available for spare parts.
2. Roger Bernadina, CF, Washington - The Nat’s OF is already crowded with Michael Morse, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth. Rumor has it that Michael Bourn is high on their list and Bernadina would seem to be on the fringe of the roster. Bernadina is first year arb eligible, but shouldn’t cost much since he’s always been a part-timer. He did put up a .758 OPS in 233 PAs against RHP in 2012 (.359 OBP). He can play CF and would be a pretty good option in a platoon with Stubbs or Heisey IMO.
3. Luke Scott, LF/1B, FA - Scott has been through a pretty rough injury to his shoulder which has hurt his production. He did come back last season and his splits make him look like a guy for the Reds to try to get on the cheap. He had an .820 OPS in 249 PAs against RHP and, maybe more telling, his OPS in the second half was .845. He say’s that the shoulder is starting to feel a lot better as he gets farther from his surgery and I‘m guessing he‘s ripe for a rebound. He’s probably a part-timer, but if the Reds need to replace Ludwick by mixing and matching, Scott may be a good idea to play in LF against RHP much of the time. Perhaps in a weird platoon with Rolen where Frazier plays LF against LHP and 3B against RHP. He’d probably come cheap. Maybe even on a minor league deal.
4. J. P. Howell, LHRP, FA - Howell had a decent bounce back season last year with 50+ innings with an ERA of 3.04, 7.5 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. He missed 2010 and was pretty bad in 2011 due to injuries. The Reds bullpen depth was a strength in 2012, but Bullpen depth can quickly become Bullpen dreck and the team needs another lefty. He had some closing experience in 2009 and may be a good guy for the mix if the team moves Chapman to the rotation. Not sure he’s going to be the bargain I hope he will, but if he can be had for $2 Million or less, it would be a good move for the Reds.
5. Grady Sizemore, OF, FA - Purely a scrap heap signing at this point. Lots of injuries may make him a non-factor, but maybe he’ll be this season’s Eric Chavez making key contributions in a part-time role. Better yet, maybe he’ll be Ron Gant circa 1995 or, well, Ryan Ludwick of 2012.
Please add some names here or debate the ones I've thrown out, but somewhere among the big names, a thread discussing the scrap heap may be more in line with this year's actual news.