The Reds met with outfielder Shin-Soo Choo's agent, Scott Boras, at the winter meetings. That's often a sign of progress. But in the Reds' case, it sounded more like the end.
"I think we have to move on," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "We have to plan as if we're moving on."
Boras seemed to keep the door open.
"I think the Reds are very happy with Choo and had a great experience with him," Boras said. "I think he was very happy there and really enjoyed his time there. He feels it's a competitive team and a good place to play."
But Choo is reportedly seeking a long-term deal for well over $120 million. That does not fit into the Reds' budget. The club signed three free agents this offseason -- infielder/outfielder Skip Schumaker, left-hander Manny Parra and catcher Brayan Pena. None of the three will make more than $2 million in 2014.
Choo is the top free agent left on the market. Teams who showed interest earlier -- Seattle, Arizona -- would seem to be out of the picture because they have filled their needs with other players.
Boras, however, said Choo has several offers. He would not say if one was from the Reds.
"Choo offers 20 home-run power, a .400 on-base percentage," Boras said. "When you get into those fields, in the last two years, you can probably count on 10 players who are able to achieve something like that. Then you add he can add 20 stolen bases. I think every franchise that is looking at Choo sees him as someone who can add to those types of players, that he's certainly a guy that has franchise talent. He's certainly earned the respect of his teammates, the league."
--RF Jay Bruce is taking a cerebral approach to his offseason training. He's been studying graphs that Rob Coughlin, the club's manager of video scouting, compiles. "He puts together on a microscopic scale what made me successful and unsuccessful," Bruce said. "Pitches. Counts. What I'm most susceptible to as far as certain type of pitches. I'm really trying to understand my zone and things I have to do to eliminate those stretches (where I struggle.). I think I've done a better job of that. It's time to take the next step."
--C Corky Miller signed a minor league deal with the Reds. Miller's future is in coaching. "But I want to play," he said.
--RHP Jonathan Broxton's rehab from August elbow surgery is going well. "I saw the doctor," he said. "Everything is good." Broxton will resume throwing around the first of the year. He expects to be ready by spring training.
--RHP Homer Bailey has been the subject of trade rumors because he becomes a free agent after the 2014 season. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty met with Bailey's agent about a long-term deal. "We're looking to sign him, not trade him," Jocketty said.
--RHP Mike Leake, eligible for arbitration for the second time, has not heard from the Reds about a long term deal. He is in the same situation as RHP Mat Latos. "They probably should have done it last year," he said. Leake was coming off a year in which he went 8-9 with a 4.53 ERA last year. This year, he is coming off a year in which he went 12-9 with a 3.37 ERA.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The quick answer is yes. The honest answer is it will be difficult." Reds general manager Walt Jocketty when asked if the club was trying to sign Mat Latos and Homer Bailey long-term.
The Reds will have seven of the eight position players back and four of the five members of the rotation, plus left-hander Tony Cingrani, who filled in well. The bullpen returns mostly in tact as well. They could lose center fielder Shin-Soo Choo and pitcher Bronson Arroyo this offseason. Choo, in particular, will likely command big dollars on the free-agent market.
BIGGEST NEEDS: They need to re-sign Shin-Soo Choo, decide if Billy Hamilton is ready or find someone else to lead off and play center field. Hamilton stole 13 bases in 14 attempts, showing his speed as a pinch runner down the stretch. "I learned so much just from being around these guys every day and watching," he said. It is unclear if he is ready to be an everyday player, however.
ARRIVALS: OF/2B Skip Schumaker (free agent from Dodgers), C Brayan Pena (free agent from Tigers). LHP Manny Parra (free agent re-sign)
DEPARTURES: C Ryan Hanigan (traded to Rays)
FREE AGENTS: CF Shin-Soo Choo, RHP Bronson Arroyo, OF Xavier Paul, OF Derrick Robinson, RHP Nick Masset, LHP Zach Duke, INF Cesar Izturis
Choo and Arroyo are likely to be too expensive. Paul and Robinson were non-tendered.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: RHP Homer Bailey, RHP Mike Leake, OF Chris Heisey, RHP Alfredo Simon, RHP Sam LeCure
Bailey, third time eligible, is the big ticket item. The Reds will probably try to sign him to long-term deal. Mike Leake ($3 million) and Chris Heisey ($1.3 million) will also get big raises in the second year of being arbitration-eligible.
--RHP Jonathan Broxton (right elbow surgery in July 2013) is expected to be ready for spring training.
--RHP Mat Latos (right elbow surgery in October 2013) had bone chips removed. He should be ready for the start of spring training.
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- Walt Jocketty
- Scott Boras
- Homer Bailey