That means a couple of offseason items on the shopping list will likely remain unchecked, namely a run producer to man left field.
"We're trying to strengthen our bench, but right now we're at the limit, payroll-wise," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It's a tough market out there right now."
All winter, Jocketty indicated that the nation's slumping economy would likely affect baseball spending league-wide. And while economics certainly appear to have curtailed the Reds' efforts somewhat, the team looks like it will end up close to the $74 million payroll it opened with in 2008. The club isn't revealing the exact payroll figure.
"It's what it was last year," Jocketty said. "In fact, it might be a little bit more."
After signing free agents Willy Taveras, Arthur Rhodes, Mike Lincoln and Jerry Hairston Jr., and acquiring Ramon Hernandez in a trade, the Reds have $58.375 million committed to 10 players for the upcoming season.
Francisco Cordero will be the highest earner at $12 million, followed by Aaron Harang ($11 million), Bronson Arroyo ($9.5 million), Hernandez ($8 million, with the Orioles picking up about $2 million), Alex Gonzalez ($5.375 million), Brandon Phillips ($4.75 million), Taveras ($2.25 million), Hairston ($2 million), Rhodes (estimated $2 million) and Lincoln ($1.5 million).
Cincinnati also has two arbitration cases pending with Edwin Encarnacion and David Weathers. Encarnacion wants $3.7 million, while the Reds countered with a $2.55 million offer. Weathers is seeking $4.6 million and the Reds offered $3 million.
If free-agent outfielder Jonny Gomes makes the club after signing a Minor League contract this week, he will earn a $600,000 base salary. The remainder of the roster is expected to earn in the $400,000 range.
Meanwhile, the club is trying to find ways to generate and improve its revenue stream.
"We're focused on the top line," Reds owner/CEO Bob Castellini said. "We feel like we've put together just about the whole team we anticipated we'd be able to put together."
Aside from the Cubs' addition of outfielder Milton Bradley, no club in the National League Central division made drastic improvements, and the Reds aren't conceding efforts to contend in 2009.
However, it's clear there is a focus on building beyond 2009. That mantra will be evident during Winter Caravan this week, as several prospects were included on the trip to help get fans excited about the future. Among those being featured at stops are the past two first-round Draft picks in Yonder Alonso and Devin Mesoraco, and Reds Minor League Player of the Year Chris Valaika.
"It takes time to build a consistently competitive organization," Jocketty said. "You can do some things to have instant success, but you can't sustain it. We want to build an organization that sustains success for a long time and be a club that's in the hunt every year. That's why we're really trying to develop our younger players and really utilize the talent we have in the organization, and add to it with some veteran guys."