07/27/12 8:20 PM ET
Jocketty still shopping for help atop lineup
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
Jocketty did not attend Friday's Reds-Rockies series opener, opting to remain at his Denver hotel to hold meetings, make phone calls, and research and evaluate offers. But nothing was close to being done as of Friday evening.
"Quite frankly, things haven't changed much, but we continue to talk," Jocketty said. "I get the sense from a couple of clubs that they're not going to do anything until the deadline."
The Reds -- who entered Friday leading the National League Central by two games over the second-place Pirates -- came into the Trade Deadline season hoping to find a potential leadoff hitter, a cleanup hitter, a left-handed bat off of the bench and potential pitching depth. They very much remain buyers on the trade market, according to Jocketty.
As Cincinnati has hit a tear of late with wins in 14 of their previous 16 games entering Friday, players like Ryan Ludwick and Brandon Phillips have stepped up, especially during the absence of the injured Joey Votto. It's made finding help in the middle of the order less of a need.
"It's not as high a priority as the top of the order. We need to get guys on base," Jocketty said.
While Drew Stubbs has stepped up in the past few games, the leadoff spot for Cincinnati -- comprised mostly of either Stubbs or Zack Cozart -- is batting a combined .200 with a .247 on-base percentage and 93 strikeouts.
Who exactly might the Reds being pursuing to address this need? As usual, Jocketty plays his hand close to the vest and is revealing nothing. But there have been some clues in recent days.
Reds scouts, including special assistants to the GM Mike Squires and Cam Bonifay, have been spotted around the Twins lately -- quite possibly for closer looks at Minnesota leadoff man Denard Span.
Span, 28, is an attractive option for multiple reasons. A left-handed hitter and speedy outfielder, he entered Friday batting .285 with a .348 on-base percentage. Span draws walks (36) and doesn't strikeout a ton (47). He scored 45 runs this season.
Financially, Span is signed through 2014 but isn't a payroll buster. He's making $3 million this season, $4.75 million in 2013, $6.5 million in 2014 with a $9 million club option for 2015. That also means the asking price for trading Span should be high.
The Twins, owners of the worst record in the American League, are desperate for starting pitching. While Cincinnati would likely be reluctant to part with anyone from the current rotation and have no big league ready pitching prospects, they do have talent. At Double-A, left-hander Tony Cingrani is moving up quickly and the Reds organization is very high on right-hander Daniel Corcino.
Reports for multiple weeks have linked the Reds to a pair of leadoff options in Philadelphia -- Shane Victorino and Juan Pierre. Both will be free agents at season's end.
Victorino, 31, is heading into free agency enduring a down year. He entered the night batting .253 with a .319 on-base percentage -- both numbers are dips from his career levels. He's also earning $9.5 million in 2012.
On the other hand, Victorino is a two-time Gold Glove winner and has playoff experience, winning a World Series for the Phillies in 2008. That can't be discounted for a Reds clubhouse that is still youthful and limited in significant postseason action.
Cheaper would be the well-traveled Pierre, who is 34 and earning $800,000 this year. Over 82 games, he is batting .308 with a .349 on-base percentage, 36 runs and 23 steals. As recently as 2010, he stole a league-best 68 bases.
The Phillies need outfield and bullpen help that is ready for the big leagues. The Reds' bullpen is tops in National League ERA and wins, and has strong depth.
Jocketty has found the asking prices for many proposed deals to be prohibitive.
"At this point, yes. We'll see if it lessens close to the deadline if nothing is done," Jocketty said.
If the Reds don't get a deal done, can they still win the division with what they have?
"If nothing does happen, you've got no choice," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You know what I mean? Those are expectations I've been living with my whole managerial career."