Reds aware market for leadoff hitter dwindling
GM Jocketty considering top-of-order options, in talks with Ludwick
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Reds and general manager Walt Jocketty have made no secret about their desire to score a leadoff hitter this offseason. They certainly hope to make some headway during the Winter Meetings.
Clearly, there is still work to do with the first day already in the books at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn.
"We haven't made much progress here with that," Jocketty said Monday.
The leadoff-hitter market -- both free agents and potential trade targets -- has dwindled rather quickly in the past several days. On Monday afternoon, multiple reports surfaced that the Giants re-signed center fielder Angel Pagan to a four-year, $40 million contract.
"He was out of our price range," Jocketty said.
No doubt, it will be the same case with the other big leadoff free agent on the market -- Michael Bourn.
Two seemingly plausible trade candidates have a pair of center fielders -- Dexter Fowler of the Rockies and Coco Crisp of the A's. Crisp became expendable when Oakland acquired Chris Young earlier in the offseason. Fowler, a switch hitter who batted .300 last season with a .389 on-base percentage, would be an upgrade for the Reds after their leadoff hitters combined for a .254 OBP.
However, nothing appears likely to happen on either front this week.
"We really haven't talked to either club, if that's any indication," Jocketty said. "I'm not sure Colorado is moving Fowler."
Last week, the Twins dealt Denard Span to the Nationals for a top Minor League pitching prospect. Cincinnati had pursued Span before the 2012 Trade Deadline but did not make a big push this offseason.
"At the GM Meetings, we did express an interest. But that was as far as it got," Jocketty said.
And it surfaced on Monday that another free agent leadoff hitter, Grady Sizemore, had another microfracture surgery on his right knee in September after having the same procedure done on his left knee two years ago. Sizemore, the longtime Indians star, will not be ready for the start of the 2013 season.
With Aroldis Chapman being moved from closer to the rotation, the Reds have some depth at starting pitching that might be useful in making a trade for a leadoff hitter. But because a successful transition is far from a sure thing for Chapman, the idea that Cincinnati would deal starting pitchers is unlikely.
"We've had a few people inquire about our pitching," Jocketty said. "We have told them we're not interested in moving a starter."
Manager Dusty Baker has been involved and up to date on the various attempts at moves. Baker had several different players lead off last season -- namely Drew Stubbs, Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips -- and realizes he might have to resume mixing and matching in 2013.
"I've been trying everybody. If we don't get one, I've just got to keep trying like I've been trying," Baker said. "We've been saying this for three or four years. We're trying to get Stubbs into the maturity of a leadoff man because he's a perfect leadoff man for the team if he could get it together."
One of the other goals for the Reds is to secure a run-producing left fielder, namely by re-signing free agent Ryan Ludwick. Jocketty has a meeting with Ludwick's agent, Dan Horwits, slated for Tuesday morning.
"I think if we're going to sign him, we could do it this week," Jocketty said. "His agent is pretty up front. We've had a good relationship. We'll see where he stands."
"I spoke to him about a week ago," Baker said of Ludwick. "We have an offer on the table. But he's a free agent, and he's weighing his options even though he wants to come back here first. I'm hoping that we get it done."
In the meantime, it was a rather quiet first day of the Winter Meetings for the Reds.