LAS VEGAS -- There has been plenty of buzz concerning what the Reds might do this week, and a belief that they are active on multiple fronts as the Winter Meetings got underway on Monday.There were no significant deals made by the Reds on the first day in Las Vegas,
LAS VEGAS -- There has been plenty of buzz concerning what the Reds might do this week, and a belief that they are active on multiple fronts as the Winter Meetings got underway on Monday.
There were no significant deals made by the Reds on the first day in Las Vegas, but president of baseball operations Dick Williams and general manager Nick Krall were pleased with the progress that was made.
"I thought today was a productive day. Everybody stayed very busy," Williams said. "I thought we had some good discussions with both clubs and agents. We divided and conquered at times, stayed pretty busy."
Lobby buzz at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino has speculated on what the Reds might do this offseason. The club, which has not been shy about its desire to add pitchers to the rotation and a center fielder to replace Billy Hamilton, is centered on being competitive in 2019 following four straight 90-plus loss seasons.
"Now we feel like we're entering that window of competitiveness," Williams said. "We have Joey [Votto] for a limited amount of time. We now have guys like [Eugenio] Suarez signed. We've got building blocks around the diamond. We don't know how far it'll take us, but this is a year where we're going to try to get better with the resources we have. We have some financial resources. We have some prospect capital. We definitely are focused on improving this year.
"The good thing is, we haven't had any discussions where people say we don't have enough prospects to enter into a discussion. I think that's a testament to how far we've built the system. Are there a lot of discussions where we're not comfortable going where the [asking price] is right now? Yes."
A source told MLB.com that Cincinnati is not actively shopping second baseman Scooter Gennett in potential trades. However, the team has maintained a mantra of being willing to listen about any player. A report from Ken Rosenthal in The Athletic said that the Reds may be open to moving Gennett. Such a deal would create a place to play for Nick Senzel, who is ranked as the Reds' No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipeline and No. 6 overall.
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There are a lot of second basemen on the free-agent market, including DJ LeMahieu, Josh Harrison and James Dozier. Neither Williams nor Krall would comment on the Gennett report.
Gennett, 28, is eligible for arbitration for the third and final time, meaning he can be a free agent after the 2019 season. He earned $5.7 million this season after winning his arbitration case that went to a hearing. When asked about Gennett on Friday, Williams said he didn't expect an extension was imminent.
In 2018, Gennett batted .310/.357/.490 with 23 home runs and 92 RBIs while valued at 4.2 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Often at the Winter Meetings, it takes one signing or trade by a club to spur a flurry of activity. Krall did not believe the theory that one domino had to fall before the Reds would move.
"I think you could look at it in a couple of different ways," Krall said. "You're setting up your parameters and you're just trying to figure out how to move forward. I think there are deals that take place without a domino falling. And there are deals that take place where some people are waiting for a domino. I think it's a little of both."
There were minor moves made by the Reds on Monday. Lefty reliever Robby Scott was claimed off waivers from the Red Sox. Former Royals infielder Christian Colon was signed to a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training. Three players that were non-tendered last week -- outfielder/first baseman Jordan Patterson, catcher Juan Graterol and outfielder Aristides Aquino -- were brought back on Minor League contracts.
In past offseasons, the Reds have often waited for prices to drop before going for bargains. They are not in that mode this year and still have several of the pricier free agents in their sights. For example, they are not ruling out pursuing the top available free-agent center fielder in A.J. Pollock. But to spend that big, Cincinnati would have to get pitching that costs less.
With that kind of maneuvering happening on several different players, it's about getting all the puzzle pieces to fit financially. The Reds expect to have their highest payroll in franchise history, which would mean topping the $115 million Cincinnati spent in 2015. The club spent $101 million on payroll in '18.
"We're trying to find the right time to strike, whether it's a trade or free agent," Williams said. "It's not that prices have to drop to rock bottom. We have some resources to do deals, but we have to find the right deals that allow us to do multiple [trades]. We still have to work within our overall parameters. We have to find the right time to strike on each one."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.