With news that the team is contemplating a rare foray into the big-game portion of the offseason’s free agent market, and today’s reports that the club is interested in acquiring Dodger outfielder Yasiel Puig, the Reds have moved to the fore of the offseason’s hot stove. As The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans details, it’s a unique position for a team that’s spent the last four years in the cellar of the NL Central. The Reds, to no one’s surprise, are said to be pursuing a center fielder, but quotes from President of Baseball Ops Dick Williams suggest the player need not be of the defense-first variety: “That’s one of the factors in not being comfortable in paying Billy (Hamilton) what we were paying him,” he said. “You could argue we can have room for a little more offense, a little less defense out of our center fielder.” One player said to be in the plans is blue-chip prospect Nick Senzel, a third baseman by trade who apparently offers enough athleticism to handle the position, though the options surely remain numerous at this juncture.
In other news from around the NL . . .
- Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Mets continue to ruminate internally about whether or not top prospect Andres Gimenez will be able to make the jump to the parent club in 2019, which would allow the team to dangle current shortstop Amed Rosario in a deal to reel in the trade market’s big fish, Miami catcher J.T. Realmuto. Such a scenario would, in all likelihood, necessitate the signing of a stopgap, defense-first shortstop, though 24-year-old Luis Guillorme, a supposed virtuoso with the leather, would seem to fit the bill as well as any. Gimenez, who spent nearly half of last season in Double-A as a 19-year-old, has a scouting report that reads quite similar to the one originally stamped to Rosario: a plus glove, with questions surrounding the bat.
- Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times cites sources who claim the Cubs would like to acquire two “established” but “not high-end” relievers in the coming weeks. Though the Cubs’ pen delivered strong results last season (an NL best 83 ERA-), much of the success may be ascribed to a combination of luck and sterling defense – the unit’s .277 BABIP, after all, was tied for the second lowest in the league, and its collective 106 xFIP- ranked in the league’s bottom half. Brandon Morrow, arguably the team’s best reliever in his limited action last year, is already scheduled to miss time next season after undergoing elbow surgery in November.
- Per Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts (via the LA Times’ Jorge Castillo on Twitter), righty Kenta Maeda will begin next season in the Dodger rotation. Maeda, 30, was yo-yoed between the bullpen and rotation last year despite mostly excellent (10.62 K/9, 3.30 FIP) results as a starter. His contract, which includes a series of incentive bonuses for each additional 10 IP after reaching the 90-inning plateau for a season, plus $1MM each for making his 15th, 20th, 25th, 30th, and 32nd starts of the year, may have been a factor, though the club’ll be hard-pressed to again limit the Japanese hurler if he reprises his dominance from a season ago.