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Reds reportedly considering Puig, Inciarte

December 11, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- Reds executives have been reaching out to many clubs and agents to potentially make acquisitions during the Winter Meetings. On Tuesday, two of the names on Cincinnati's radar appeared to be Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers and Ender Inciarte of the Braves.Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported

LAS VEGAS -- Reds executives have been reaching out to many clubs and agents to potentially make acquisitions during the Winter Meetings. On Tuesday, two of the names on Cincinnati's radar appeared to be Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers and Ender Inciarte of the Braves.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Reds and Dodgers have had discussions involving Puig and that Los Angeles is also interested in moving left-handed pitcher Alex Wood. In an interesting twist, Rosenthal mentioned that Homer Bailey could be part of the deal going to Los Angeles. The Dodgers would take on the $28 million still owed to Bailey, which would essentially be the premium paid to acquire some of the Reds' prospects also.

Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams declined to get into specifics.
"We've had conversations with the Dodgers, and there have been a variety of permutations," Williams said. "I'm not going to get into what we've talked about."
When asked if any of those talks were close to getting a deal done, Williams said no.
"We've had conversations with them about certain guys on their team and other guys on their team, totally independent conversations," Williams said. "We've just had different types of talks with them."
Puig and Wood are both entering their final seasons of club control before they can become free agents. As for Puig specifically, there doesn't appear to be a natural fit for the right fielder as the Reds already have Jesse Winker and Scott Schebler currently set as the regulars in the corner outfield spots.
"I would say that this offseason, our priorities have been more towards pitching and center field than the corners," Williams said.
But since the Reds have feelers out on different deals and negotiations, adding Puig would only make sense in theory if they were also looking to deal one of their corner outfielders in order to acquire pitching.
Puig, 28, batted .267/.327/.494 with 23 home runs and 63 RBIs in 2018 with 120 OPS + and 2.7 wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference. He made $9.2 million in '18 and will be third-year arbitration eligible this winter. Defensively, Puig has one of the best outfield arms in the Major Leagues.

If he joined the Reds, Puig would be reunited with former Dodgers hitting coach Turner Ward, who was hired last month as part of manager David Bell's staff.
Wood, who turns 28 in January, was 9-7 with a 3.68 ERA in 33 games (27 starts) for Los Angeles last season while earning $6 million. Over six seasons with the Braves and Dodgers, he is 52-40 with a 3.29 ERA over 172 games (129 starts).
Meanwhile, a source told MLB.com on Tuesday that Cincinnati has been speaking to the Braves about trading for Inciarte. No deal appeared imminent, however. It was not immediately known what Atlanta asked for in return.
The Reds are looking to replace center fielder Billy Hamilton, who was non-tendered in November. Hamilton signed a one-year, $4.25 million contract with the Royals on Tuesday.
Despite his great defensive ability, Hamilton has never won a National League Gold Glove Award, partly because Inciarte has won it in each of the past three years. But Inciarte would also bring more offense as a career .289/.337/.390 hitter over five seasons in the big leagues (two with Arizona and three with Atlanta). He was also a 2017 NL All-Star.

Inciarte, 28, has three years left on the five-year, $30.5 million contract with a $9 million club option for 2022 and a $1.02 million buyout.
Over 156 games in 2018, Inciarte batted .265/.325/.380 with 10 home runs, 61 RBIs, 28 stolen bases and a 90 OPS +. He accrued 3.4 wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference.
"I'm not getting into the specific trade talks," Williams replied when asked about Inciarte.
A potential free-agent center fielder came off the board when the Phillies and Andrew McCutchen agreed to a three-year, $50 million contract according to MLB.com sources. Williams couldn't speculate if that deal could affect the market as they talk to other free agents.
"I don't know if the players that are out there will peg themselves off of him or not," he said. "We have not had conversations with anyone who has referenced that deal yet."
General manager Nick Krall said that the Reds checked in on McCutchen, and Williams added the club was not competing to sign him.
Both Williams and Krall characterized Tuesday as a busy day meeting with clubs and agents, but they couldn't handicap whether any moves would be completed during the Winter Meetings.
With Cincinnati enduring four straight last-place finishes in the NL Central with more than 90 losses in each of those years, frustrated fans are viewing this week as pivotal. But the front office is playing the long game and not placing added pressure on themselves to leave town with done deals.
"I understand that fans get anxious to see what new players might be on the team," Williams said. "I can understand that, but it's just a long offseason. We've talked with a bunch of teams and media members, and everybody is saying the same thing: It just takes longer into the offseason now to get the bulk of the deals done. We don't have any control over that time."

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.