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Beat Reporter's Inbox

Inbox: What's on tap for Reds at Winter Mtgs?

Beat reporter Mark Sheldon fields offseason questions from fans
MLB.com @m_sheldon

As a Reds fan, what should we expect out of the upcoming Winter Meetings? Is it expected that the Reds are to try to sign a starter or two? And what caliber of pitcher are the Reds most likely going to invest in?
-- Daniel K., Portland, Ore.

These things are not easy to predict, but president of baseball operations Dick Williams said last weekend that there is a chance moves could be made because the groundwork has been laid, while the phone calls and check-ins have been ongoing. As always, the market will determine the dollars. As for the type of pitcher, I don't see the Reds investing six years and nine figures -- like the Nationals reportedly did with Patrick Corbin. As I've been saying throughout the offseason, if the Reds go after a free-agent starter, I think it will be from the second tier of guys.

As a Reds fan, what should we expect out of the upcoming Winter Meetings? Is it expected that the Reds are to try to sign a starter or two? And what caliber of pitcher are the Reds most likely going to invest in?
-- Daniel K., Portland, Ore.

These things are not easy to predict, but president of baseball operations Dick Williams said last weekend that there is a chance moves could be made because the groundwork has been laid, while the phone calls and check-ins have been ongoing. As always, the market will determine the dollars. As for the type of pitcher, I don't see the Reds investing six years and nine figures -- like the Nationals reportedly did with Patrick Corbin. As I've been saying throughout the offseason, if the Reds go after a free-agent starter, I think it will be from the second tier of guys.

However, if the Reds are willing to give up what it takes in players and prospects, I could envision them landing a much more dynamic starter. MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported on Tuesday that Cincinnati has talked with Cleveland about Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. That sure would be interesting.

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The Reds, for the first time in a while, are seeming to make little waves in the Hot Stove. What are their chances of signing Dallas Keuchel, and how much do they have to spend? I have heard that they have been "all over" Dallas, but just how much?
-- Bryce A.

I would not run out and buy a No. 60 Keuchel Reds jersey at the moment. From talking to people with the Reds, I don't believe that they were or are all over Keuchel as has been reported. While not specifically addressing Keuchel the other day, Williams dismissed many of the rumors.

"I will say the reports as a whole, I've been surprised at how inaccurate they've been," Williams said. "There have been some that really took us by surprise because they are so off-base."

What are the Reds thinking not contracting with Billy Hamilton? Grew up in Indiana during the days of the Big Red Machine. Hamilton is the most exciting part of the Reds the last 20 years. Get him signed now and work with him to get better at the plate. He should be a danger to bunt every few at-bats but hardly saw that this season. He more than makes up for any deficit at the plate with his wheels in the outfield.
-- Scott B., Paoli, Ind.

I'm not surprised that some fans are miffed that Hamilton wasn't offered a contract. He indeed has special speed and plays elite defense. But I'm also wondering why there is backlash for a career .245 hitter with a .298 on-base percentage. Players who have performed much better and more consistently have been booed or run out of town by fans. Especially for the money it would cost, Hamilton has not performed in the past couple of seasons to the level of a player who will get a very large raise via arbitration. The Reds have worked with him at the plate and have tried to help him with his bunting. Fans are frustrated with losing and the Reds are trying to get better this winter. Has Hamilton's lack of production from the leadoff spot in recent years helped them climb out of last place the past four years?

Maybe a change of scenery and different voices will help. Or maybe the Reds can bring him back at a lower price and continue to work with him. The door wasn't completely closed to a player who is now free to speak with all 30 clubs.

Video: Reds non-tender speedster outfielder Billy Hamilton

Was Brandon Phillips an important enough part of Reds history for the team to sign him to a ceremonial-type contract so he can retire as a Red? Or was that bridge burned beyond repair?
-- @CDW1277 on Twitter

After sitting out of baseball for most of 2018, Phillips finished the season with the Red Sox but was not on their postseason roster. I have not heard anything about him retiring. However, I've rarely seen ceremonial contracts in baseball similar to what happens in the NFL. I also think the type of exit Phillips had would make such an olive branch unlikely. Remember, the Reds paid the Braves $13 million of the $14 million owed to Phillips to trade him before the 2017 season. One guarantee I will make is that Phillips is a lock to be in the Reds Hall of Fame once he is eligible. He had a great career in Cincinnati and was a big part of the winning that happened in 2010, '12 and '13.

Should the Reds trade for Sonny Gray?
-- Nathan K., Cincinnati

It would depend on the Yankees' asking price, but I think the Reds should be looking very closely at a guy like Gray. Although his 1 1/2 seasons with the Yankees were forgettable, he had a nice career with Oakland, posting a 44-36 record and 3.42 ERA in 114 games (112 starts) over five seasons. Gray would have a chance to bounce back with Cincinnati, and he would be reunited with his college pitching coach in Derek Johnson, who helped him become a successful Major Leaguer.

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.

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