Reds won't make rash decisions at Meetings

Reds won't make rash decisions at Meetings

CINCINNATI -- In the years under Reds general manager Walt Jocketty's regime, most of the Winter Meetings action has been quietly done behind the scenes and out of sight in the way of talks and negotiating.

In the past three Meetings, in fact, Jocketty has been to the press room podium just once to announce a significant move.

This year, the baseball industry will converge in Dallas for the 2011 Winter Meetings from Dec. 5-8.

In an offseason that stretches over four months, the longtime baseball executive has never felt pressure to make a deal during the four days of the Winter Meetings.

"It can be a good time and opportunity to do things," Jocketty said. "But it's not critical. Some people panic and make a deal just to make a deal. You have to be very thorough."

Winter Meetings coverage
Hot Stove: Tracker | Buzz blog
Hot Stove news, analysis

The last trade the Reds made during the meetings came in 2008, when they acquired catcher Ramon Hernandez from the Orioles for Ryan Freel, Justin Turner and Brandon Waring. Being deliberate certainly worked in this case for the Reds, as Hernandez contributed well over the last three seasons. Meanwhile, Freel is now out of baseball and Turner is with the Mets. The jury is still out on Waring, who is still in Double-A for Baltimore.

Last winter, the only move the Reds made was to re-sign utility infielder Miguel Cairo to a two-year, $2 million contract. But last year, the Reds were a stocked club coming off of a National League Central Division title and had few needs.

The disappointment of this past season has increased the wish list this winter. The Reds would like to add a top-tier starting pitcher to pair with Johnny Cueto as a 1-2 punch in the rotation. Jocketty has made it clear all offseason that he won't spend free-agent money to make that happen, so it would have to come via a trade.

While Jocketty would never publicly acknowledge who he is pursuing or using as trade bait, much of the speculation has centered on premier hitting prospect Yonder Alonso being the best trade chip on hand. The Reds certainly have plenty to consider before making such a move. Alonso, who is moving to left field full time next season in the big leagues, has already hit well in his brief tenure and has a chance to realize an even better potential. The 24-year-old also offers security at first base should Joey Votto move on after his contract expires following the 2013 season.

Another focus for the Reds could be on a new closer, as incumbent Francisco Cordero remains on the free-agent market himself. Cordero's $12 million option wasn't picked up on Oct. 31, and although both sides voiced desires to keep the pitcher in Cincinnati, a deal remains elusive. Cordero was told to explore the market and see what's out there. The Reds are doing likewise.

Closers Jonathan Papelbon and Joe Nathan have already signed deals, although Papelbon was way out of the Reds' price range. There are numerous other potential options in Brad Lidge, Jonathan Broxton, Francisco Rodriguez or Matt Capps.

Another issue facing the Reds has been negotiating a contract extension for second baseman Brandon Phillips. A $12 million club option on Phillips was exercised, assuring his presence in next season's lineup, but at last check, the two sides were far apart on a long-term deal.

Counting Phillips' option, the Reds have more than $50 million committed in contracts already, and six players eligible for raises in arbitration, including first-timer and pitcher Homer Bailey. For a team likely to have a tight 2012 payroll in the mid-$80 million range, but coveted prospects potentially available for trade, Jocketty will no doubt be as thorough as he's ever been before pulling the trigger on any deal.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.