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01/04/10 4:54 PM EST
Reds stove looking to get warm in '10
GM Jocketty patiently waiting for free-agent prices to drop
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- During this quietest of quiet Reds offseasons, fans have been clamoring for an acquisition, any acquisition, to improve the team.
Although general manager Walt Jocketty has returned from a holiday vacation out of the country, there is nothing imminent that will scratch the itch for Cincinnati to make Hot Stove news.
"Not much," Jocketty said on Monday when asked what was new. "We're getting back into gear, trying to finalize plans for Spring Training and get players signed."
Spring Training is about seven weeks away and with more than 100 free agents still unsigned and looking for jobs, prices could soon be headed downward.
And that's when the bargain-hunting Reds could finally pounce. Jocketty will be trolling the market for players open to Minor League deals with non-roster invitations to camp.
"We'll definitely be looking at the types like that," Jocketty said on Monday.
The Reds' offseason wish list has gone unchanged since October. They still want an offense-minded infielder that can play shortstop, a fifth-starter candidate for the rotation and a power bat.
"We'll spend the next few weeks looking at guys and see if it fits into what we're trying to do," Jocketty said.
When the Reds restructured third baseman Scott Rolen's contract and extended him for two more years, it meant a $5 million savings on the 2010 payroll. It did not mean filling that space with $5 million worth of player acquisitions.
"It was a move to keep our team as much intact as we can," Jocketty said. "We're still not in position to add more to the club. We think we have a pretty good club as it is."
The Reds are trying to hold the line as much as possible on the $73 million payroll they opened the 2009 season with. Besides the Rolen deal, the only other moves have been re-signing catcher Ramon Hernandez to a one-year, $3 million contract (after declining his $8.5 million club option) and bringing back corner outfielder Laynce Nix on a Minor League contract.
The door hasn't been closed by the Reds to bring back free-agent outfielder and 20-homer hitter Jonny Gomes, who was non-tendered last month. There has been no movement in talks, however.
"We've got a unique situation," Jocketty said. "We like the guys we have at different positions. We haven't found anyone at our price range that significantly upgrades our club. We're looking to improve but haven't found a way to do that."