"I don't see us being very active with free agents," general manager Walt Jocketty said at season's end. "It's not a very strong free-agent market from what we see." Sure, there are unsettled situations for the club in left field and at shortstop, but economics will be the overriding factor in how the Reds maneuver to fill those needs. Jocketty said on Monday that the Reds won't set a budget until sometime in December and therefore won't know if the club will have to trim the payroll from its $73 million level this past season. It's definitely not expected to go up, and the Reds already have over $64 million committed to players under contract for 2010. That means players like left fielders Matt Holliday and Jason Bay that are available at Nieman Marcus-type prices are out. The Reds are strictly shopping at Target and Walmart this year. Shortstop Marco Scutaro, a Type A free agent like Holliday and Bay, is also probably out of the Reds' price range. Cincinnati, seeking a possible offensive upgrade from current incumbent and defensive whiz Paul Janish, might find a decent fit with 39-year-old Craig Counsell, who earned $1 million for the Brewers in 2009 and excels at getting on base. If the Reds do make free-agent moves, they will likely be low key and come in January after the prices come down. Many of the offers will likely be Minor League deals with Spring Training invites. That includes any interest in their own free agent, pitcher Kip Wells. The Reds will likely attempt to talk with Wells, but they don't plan on making any Major League contract offers to the veteran right-hander.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.