Cabrera, Gomes among topics on Caravan
Baker also reveals Lincoln's shot to start; Alonso at catcher?
CINCINNATI -- The Reds' pursuit of free-agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera was a hot topic at the Reds Caravan on Saturday."We're still making a decision," Reds manager Dusty Baker said on Saturday, hours before Major League sources confirmed that Cabrera agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal with Cincinnati. "Would we be better served with [Paul] Janish and somebody else at shortstop, or Cabrera and whoever else we have? Right now, it's trying to decide what's best for us." The Reds were vying with the Rockies and Nationals to land the 35-year-old Cabrera. Also confirmed was that Cincinnati is still talking with outfielder Jonny Gomes, who was non-tendered by the club in December. The Reds have been looking for an outfielder with pop, and Gomes would certainly provide that after he hit 20 home runs last season in just 251 at-bats. If Gomes were to be brought back, all indications are that it would be a Minor League deal. Spending all weekend on the Southern leg of the Reds Winter Caravan, Baker was in town for a special stop at Great American Ball Park, where fans were selecting their seats as they brought season-ticket packages. The event included a question-and-answer session with the fans, which yielded some unexpected answers from the panel that included Baker, infielder Adam Rosales, outfielder Chris Heisey, broadcaster Jeff Brantley and Reds great Eric Davis. One fan asked who was contending for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Baker listed the usual suspects, including Micah Owings, Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman and young lefties Matt Maloney and Travis Wood. Baker also listed right-handed reliever Mike Lincoln as a candidate, which was a bit of a stunner. Lincoln hasn't started a Major League game since 2000 with Minnesota. Last season, he was limited to 19 games with the Reds because he needed surgery to repair a bulging disc in his neck. The 34-year-old pitched a career-high 64 games in 2008 after a four-year layoff from two elbow reconstruction surgeries. "We promised him that we would give him an opportunity, much like we did with Nick Masset last year," Baker said. "If it doesn't work out, that person can always go to the bullpen in long relief." Also asked was a common question about whether first baseman Joey Votto would get moved to left field to make room for rising prospect Yonder Alonso. But the response also yielded previously unheard information. "That's always a possibility," Baker said. "We've entertained a few things, even the possibility of putting Alonso behind the plate. He's built more like a catcher than he is anything. Imagine a left-handed, power-hitting catcher. A lot of that depends on our Minor League development people that spend time with the kids and the time training them."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.