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01/12/09 6:25 PM EST
Reds assessing free-agent outfielders
As stock continues to dwindle, club considers adding a slugger
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Much of the Reds' Hot Stove talk this winter has centered on finding a right-handed hitter who can play left field.
Now that most of the quality righty sluggers are off the market, what about left-handed hitters for left field? The free-agent market has several still out there looking for teams.
"We're open minded about it," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said on Monday.
Last week, right-handed-hitting outfielders Pat Burrell and Rocco Baldelli came off the free-agent board. Another one, Gabe Kapler, signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Rays on Monday. The Reds pursued Baldelli and had at least mild interest in Kapler.
As a vacancy sign hangs over left field at Great American Ball Park, former Reds slugger Adam Dunn has continued to languish on the free-agent market. Reds fans pining for Dunn's return should probably move on.
"I doubt it," Jocketty said when asked about the possibility of Dunn returning to Cincinnati. "Especially at the price he's looking for."
Much speculation lately has matched the Reds with former Yankees and Phillies corner outfielder Bobby Abreu, a lefty hitter the Reds have at least looked into. Right now at least, there isn't much fire behind that smoke.
"I haven't talked to his agent recently," Jocketty said.
In terms of production, Abreu does fit the bill of what Cincinnati has been seeking. He's notched 100 or more RBIs in seven of his past eight seasons and 100 or more runs in eight of the past 10 seasons.
Abreu has also played in at least 150 games in every season since 1998. He batted .296 with 20 home runs and 100 RBIs in 156 games for New York last season.
One difficulty could likely be the cost. Abreu made $16 million last season with the Yankees. But the market has started downward in recent weeks, which could lower the price.
Jocketty would not discuss any other names that are on the open market. Among the other lefty-hitting corner outfielders still available are Garret Anderson, Cliff Floyd and Luis Gonzalez. Righty hitters still out there are Jonny Gomes and Craig Monroe.
It's also very possible the Reds could add no one for left field, Jocketty has said previously. Looking in-house, Cincinnati has the recently re-signed Jerry Hairston Jr., Chris Dickerson, Norris Hopper and non-roster invite Laynce Nix.