Winds of change may sweep through Redsfest
Heading toward Winter Meetings, key players may be traded away
CINCINNATI -- This could be one of the more interesting and bizarre weeks in the Reds' offseason.
Redsfest, slated to begin Friday at the Duke Energy Convention Center, is usually an exciting time for fans to celebrate the Reds and generate excitement for the season ahead. This winter, it could serve as the backdrop for several marquee players potentially making their swansong appearances with the team.
Not only are the Winter Meetings set to begin next Monday in Nashville, Tenn., but the rebuilding Reds have made it known that they would entertain offers for any player on the roster.
It could provide a juxtaposition amid the festivities. Highly sought closer Aroldis Chapman is not confirmed to attend. But players like Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce could be posing for pictures and signing autographs for fans, only to be notified moments later that they are headed to another team in a trade.
"I don't think it's an odd situation. It's the offseason," Reds general manager Dick Williams said. "It's the time of year when baseball trades happen. We don't have any control over when the timing of those trades might be. It's part of the business. We've all been through this a bunch of times."
Cincinnati is trying to move talent nearing free agency to acquire younger and more affordable talent for the long term. The process began over the summer when Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Marlon Byrd were traded.
President of baseball operations Walt Jocketty and Williams are not finished overhauling the roster.
Chapman has been featured prominently in trade rumors with multiple clubs as potential suitors. Despite two closers being acquired in the past month --- with Craig Kimbrel going from San Diego to Boston and Francisco Rodriguez going to Detroit from Milwaukee -- Williams believed that there was still a strong market for Chapman.
Third-year arbitration-eligible, Chapman can be a free agent after next season. The Nationals, Astros, Blue Jays and D-backs are among teams seeking a closer. Williams declined to specify the level of interest clubs might have in Chapman or any of his players.
Like they did with Chapman, the Reds also explored trading Bruce before last summer's non-waiver Trade Deadline. The right fielder, a drafted and developed homegrown star, has been in Cincinnati since 2008 but is entering his final guaranteed season on his contract.
Bruce will earn $12.5 million in 2016 and has a $13 million club option for 2017 with a $1 million buyout. Frazier, who has also been part of rumors, can be a free agent after the 2017 season. The All-Star third baseman will earn $7.5 million in 2016 and is eligible for arbitration next winter.
Williams, who spent much of Monday in meetings, has had steady contact with other teams since it became known players were available.
"It's stayed pretty consistently busy since the GM Meetings, with a break for the holiday," he said. "You have these calls and you go through the process. It's really difficult to predict how close you are with a team. It's just a process you have to keep chipping away at. We're continuing to have the conversations."
Reds trades in December have happened often during the Jocketty regime. Players like Edinson Volquez and Yonder Alonso were traded to the Padres for Mat Latos in 2011 and Latos was moved again just last winter to the Marlins for Anthony DeSclafani. Drew Stubbs was traded to the Indians in 2012 for Shin-Soo Choo.
The difference is those deals weren't as telegraphed as the moves the Reds are trying to make now. And they were all made a couple of weeks after Redsfest was over.
"I have no control when the timing of something might happen," Williams said. "Guys get traded during the season. They get traded during Spring Training. They get traded on Opening Day. They get traded the day after they pitch, the day before they pitch or traded in a game. There's no good time, no ideal time for a trade."
As of Monday, more than 80 Reds players, coaches or alumni were slated to attend Redsfest on Friday and Saturday. Among those expected to attend are Joey Votto, Homer Bailey, Zack Cozart, Devin Mesoraco, manager Bryan Price, former manager Lou Piniella and more.
For more information about Redsfest, go to reds.com/redsfest.