GM: Reds may not be done tinkering with roster
Williams keeping tabs on potential bullpen, infield fits remaining on market
CINCINNATI -- The holiday week signing of right-handed reliever Jared Hughes to a two-year, $4.5 million contract checked an important box on the list of Reds' list of offseason needs. Hughes' addition doesn't necessarily indicate that general manager Dick Williams is done making bullpen upgrades, but it appeared to reduce some of the urgency.
"I would say nothing is real imminent. We have the capability to do [another move] and be opportunistic," Williams said on Wednesday.
The Reds decided Hughes, 32, was a good fit for a multitude of reasons. Besides adding veteran experience to a younger bullpen that ranked 14th out of 15 National League clubs with a 4.65 ERA in 2017, the club liked that his strikeout ratio jumped -- from 5.16 per nine innings in '16 to 7.24 last season -- and he also has the ability to keep the ball on the ground, with a 61.2-percent ground-ball rate over his career.
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Hughes has also spent his career exclusively in the NL Central, from 2011-16 with the Pirates and last season with the Brewers before the arbitration-eligible pitcher was non-tendered. Hughes had a 3.02 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 67 appearances for Milwaukee.
Lifetime at Great American Ball Park, Hughes has a 2.11 ERA in 21 games. He could likely handle a setup role in the later innings in space previously occupied by Drew Storen.
"Also, by adding bodies, we can keep more guys starting as opposed to feeling we have to push them into a bullpen role to fill a space," Williams said.
Dozens of relievers remain available on the free-agent market with six weeks remaining until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. Don't rule out additions by Cincinnati's roster, especially as prices come down and more pitchers might be open to Minor League contracts with invites to big league camp.
One pitcher, two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Timothy Lincecum, has been working out this offseason for an apparent comeback attempt. Lincecum hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2016.
"I would say we'll keep tabs on the situation," Williams said. "It's not something we're pursuing aggressively. It's fair to say we'll get information and see if there is somehow an appropriate fit."
MLB.com reported in mid-December that the Reds had been in talks with former Padres and Nationals reliever Craig Stammen, an Ohio native.
"We have looked into it. We talked to him a little bit," Williams confirmed. "Right now, I would say it's possible, but nothing is imminent with anybody."
Heading into the offseason, the Reds were also looking for a backup infielder that could play shortstop. That search continues, but Williams noted that veteran utility player Phil Gosselin was among the Minor League deals with a camp invite that the club announced last month.
"We know he can play short. He can play all over, really," Williams said. "That helps in that regard, but we're still looking."
Meanwhile, the front office is shifting into arbitration mode with the Reds' eligible players. Arbitration figures will be exchanged on Jan. 12, and the club has five such players who haven't re-signed for 2018: second baseman Scooter Gennett, outfielder Billy Hamilton, starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, reliever Michael Lorenzen and third baseman Eugenio Suarez.
"We have a little work to do to discuss the strategy with some of the guys," Williams said. "That will take up a focus the next week, week-plus. But it won't keep us from continuing to look around and talk trades or free agents."