Reds remain in market for depth in left field

Reds remain in market for depth in left field

CINCINNATI -- As the Reds continue to maneuver during what time remains this offseason, left field could certainly loom large.

There is definitely a depth issue. Currently, the 40-man roster has three true outfielders with big league experience in Chris Heisey, right fielder Jay Bruce and center fielder Drew Stubbs. Second-year player Todd Frazier can play both the infield and left field. There are also prospects Denis Phipps, who finished at Triple-A in 2011, and Donald Lutz, who was at low Class A all season.

The club has looked all winter to add a hitter that can play left field, but the trades of Yonder Alonso and Dave Sappelt last month underscored the need. At the same time, the club isn't poised to make a move just yet.

"We're trying to decide what to do with [Francisco] Cordero," said general manager Walt Jocketty. "That will determine what we can spend as a club."

Cincinnati isn't willing to re-sign Cordero, a free agent, for anything more than a guaranteed one-year contract. The amount the club is willing to spend isn't known, but it will be a significant reduction from the $12 million option the team declined a couple of months ago.

Whether Cordero is re-signed or not, the pool of free-agent candidates could be of a smaller size based on some signings elsewhere.

Josh Willingham signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Twins as a replacement for Michael Cuddyer, who signed a three-year, $31.5 million deal with the Rockies. The rival Cardinals landed Carlos Beltran to play right field at two years, $26 million. David DeJesus went to the Cubs on a two-year, $10 million contract.

The Reds had some talks with the agent for former Twins slugger Jason Kubel before he signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the D-backs on Dec. 19. Speedy outfielder Coco Crisp returned to the A's with a two-year, $14 million contract on Tuesday, although Jocketty said that the Reds never looked at Crisp.

Among the free agents that remain available are Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, Ryan Ludwick, Johnny Damon and Carlos Guillen.

Jocketty has had talks in the past with Ross' agent and voiced moderate interest. There have been no discussions about the 37-year-old Damon.

The Reds at least have some quality in left field already with Heisey. In his second season, Heisey batted .254 with 19 home runs and 50 RBIs in 279 at-bats over 120 games. He can play well defensively at all three outfield positions. The issue with the right-handed-hitting Heisey has been consistency -- he's actually been significantly better vs. right-handed pitching than against lefties.

Before the lefty-hitting Alonso was one of four players traded to the Padres to get starting pitcher Mat Latos, the Reds were primarily seeking a right-handed-hitting left fielder for bench depth. Now, the person pursued could swing from either side of the plate.

"It could be anybody," Jocketty said. "We want the best fit for our club."

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.