Unfinished business remains for Reds
GM Jocketty's wish list includes right-handed bat in outfield
LAS VEGAS -- Another Winter Meetings are in the books, but it was just one chapter in the Reds' offseason.Much remains to be done. General manager Walt Jocketty came to the Bellagio with a lengthy list of needs to improve his ballclub. Jocketty was satisfied with the work that was completed, even if it was unfinished.
"I think we've still got a number of things going that could develop in the next few days, or next few weeks," Jocketty said on Thursday as the Meetings wrapped. "I think we're in pretty good position to do some things."Needing a catcher, the Reds made one dynamic move on Tuesday, when they traded popular infielder/outfielder Ryan Freel and two Minor Leaguers to the Orioles for catcher Ramon Hernandez and around $2 million in cash. On Sunday, the right-handed portion of the Reds' bullpen became set when free agent reliever David Weathers accepted arbitration. That guaranteed Weathers' return for one more year. Jocketty and Weathers will spend the next several weeks trying to come to a deal that will avoid a hearing before an arbiter that would set Weathers' salary. It's highly possible the left side of the bullpen is figured out, too. Shortly before the Meetings concluded, a report surfaced that the Reds and veteran lefty Arthur Rhodes had agreed to a two-year contract worth $4 million. The deal is pending a physical, and there were other details left to iron out. One spot that was not filled was a right-handed hitting outfielder. One significant rumor that lingered involved outfielder Jermaine Dye coming to the Reds in a trade for young pitcher Homer Bailey. The report was denied by all sides, but there had been talks before Thanksgiving. A stumbling block in the deal was Dye's $11.5 million salary for 2009. The Reds are looking for someone who could cost less. There were talks held with free agent outfielders Rocco Baldelli and Juan Rivera. The Reds could open talks soon with marquee left fielder Pat Burrell. Stay tuned. Also on the remaining to-do list is finding a backup shortstop to serve as insurance for the oft-injured Alex Gonzalez, who missed all of last season. Jocketty would also like to bolster manager Dusty Baker's bench. The list might still seem long, but the Reds felt like time was on their side. The free agent market was slow to establish itself this week and prices could drop as Spring Training gets closer. The market could expand on Friday, when the list of players not tendered contracts is revealed. "We're in position where we can be patient and make sure we make the right deals, whether it's trades or free agents," Jocketty said. Therefore, the Hot Stove season is definitely to be continued. Deals done: On Tuesday, Freel and Minor League infielders Justin Turner and Brandon Waring were dealt to the Orioles for Hernandez and cash. Weathers accepted arbitration on Sunday to remain with the team. Rule 5 activity: Right-handed reliever David Patton was selected from the Rockies' Triple-A roster and was subsequently traded to the Cubs for cash. Reliever Terrell Young was taken by the Nationals with the first overall pick. Goals accomplished: By acquiring Hernandez, the Reds felt they shored up their catching situation. Hernandez will be installed as the starter, with Ryan Hanigan as the backup. Unfinished business: Plenty. Finding a right-handed bat for the outfield will remain a primary concern beyond the Meetings. The Reds would still like to find a center fielder, left-handed reliever, a shortstop as insurance for Gonzalez and some bench help. GM's bottom line: "Our big priority was a catcher. We're in position to do some other things before Spring Training." - Jocketty.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.