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12/05/11 6:57 PM EST
Behind scenes, Jocketty busily at work
Reds GM looking into extension for Phillips, acquiring closer
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
DALLAS -- The Reds had yet to make a splash of a transaction at the Winter Meetings as of early Monday evening, but there was work being done behind the scenes. "We've been busy," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "We've talked to several clubs. Nothing is close, but at least I feel like things are moving in the right direction here. Hopefully before the week is over, we'll be able to do something." One of the top items on the agenda this week is to make progress on a contract extension for second baseman Brandon Phillips. Jocketty, who had yet to meet with Phillips' agents, has repeatedly mentioned that the contract would be complicated to hammer out. Phillips, who will earn $12.5 million next season in the option year of his contract, is interested in the type of deal that could conceivably keep him in Cincinnati for the rest of his career. However, he is only 30 years old.
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"That's part of what complicates it, the number of years that he wants and what we feel comfortable doing," Jocketty said.Money is obviously a big part of the equation, as well -- some of it will likely be deferred to spread out the hit to the payroll. "There will be a certain amount, not a lot," Jocketty said. "We're trying to make our budget work. We're trying to make it all make sense for a long period of time. It's deciding how to spend your money." There was a report that the Reds were one of several clubs interested in signing free-agent outfielder Josh Willingham. However, Jocketty downplayed that interest. "I wouldn't say it's on the front burner. It's simmering on the back burner, if that," he said. "We are trying to find a right-handed hitter. I guess Willingham fits in that category." Willingham slugged 29 home runs and 98 RBIs for the A's last season while batting .246, with a .332 on-base percentage. He also posted those power numbers playing half his games in a pitcher's park in Oakland. Even if the Reds don't increase their pursuit of Willingham, Cincinnati wouldn't mind adding a righty hitter who can play left field. "It's a logical place right now. We may end up going with [Chris] Heisey and [Yonder] Alonso." As for Alonso, Jocketty indicated that his name is one that other clubs bring up when there are trade talks. While Jocketty wouldn't say if he'd be willing to part with Alonso, there are young prospect-type players that he does consider to be off of the table. "I'm not going to get into names. There are certain young players we won't talk about," Jocketty said. The Reds have not held any recent talks about re-signing free agent closer Francisco Cordero. They are continuing to explore the closer market -- both free agents and potential trades. There was one smaller transaction involving the Reds on Monday. Left-handed reliever Jeremy Horst cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Louisville. Horst will be invited to camp as a non-roster player. The Reds' 40-man roster now has 39 players. "It gives us some roster flexibility," Jocketty said.