12/20/08 4:33 PM EST
Reds' outfield options down to three
Hairston Jr., Baldelli, Taveras are leading candidates
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
The Reds had been pursuing Rivera, but according to comments that Reds general manager Walt Jocketty made to the Enquirer, Cincinnati was not willing to match the outfielder's three-year offer from the Angels. Rivera will earn $12.75 million over the next three seasons.
The Enquirer names Jerry Hairston Jr., Rocco Baldelli and Willy Taveras as Cincinnati's main targets now. The Reds have made an offer to Hairston, though how that offer measures up against what Hairston is seeking is unknown.
Hairston's agent, Casey Close, has not returned messages left for him this week by MLB.com.
An 11-year veteran, Hairston hit .326 with 36 RBIs in 261 at-bats as a utility player for the Reds in 2008.
Baldelli, who is also represented by Close, appears to have become more of an intriguing option -- both for the Reds and league-wide -- after revealing that his illness is much more treatable and non-progressive than originally diagnosed. The free-agent outfielder has already talked to the Rays, as well as other interested clubs.
Baldelli played in just 28 games this past year as he dealt with what was initially diagnosed as a mitochondrial disorder, but is now being called channelopathy. He hit .263 with 13 RBIs.
Taveras, who became a free agent just over a week ago when he was not tendered a contract by the Rockies, has drawn interest from a number of clubs as well. The right-handed-hitting outfielder earned $1.975 million last season and Jocketty has confirmed interest in Taveras with MLB.com. Taveras' speed (he stole 68 bases last season) is certainly appealing as the Reds look for a leadoff-type hitter.
The White Sox and Nationals are two other clubs believed to be eyeing Taveras.
Acquiring a right-handed-hitting outfielder remains Jocketty's top priority as the countdown to Spring Training continues.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.