The GM's Office: Cincinnati Reds

Executives under the most pressure 

December, 7, 2014
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Andrew FriedmanKim Klement/USA TODAY SportsDodgers president Andrew Friedman will be under pressure at this year's winter meetings.
With baseball's winter meetings set to begin in San Diego, here are the five executives who are under the most pressure:


1. Andrew Friedman, Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers ownership decided they were going to put together the most expensive baseball operations department in the history of the sport, to couple with the game's biggest player payroll. With that comes the most pressure of any front office in the game.

Friedman’s rookie offseason with the Dodgers has seen the exit of Hanley Ramirez, and some smaller acquisitions, including trades that brought in pitchers Juan Nicasio and Joel Peralta and outfielders Chris Heisey and Kyle Jensen. On the surface, these moves look more like small-market deals than the Hollywood blockbusters that would help the team improve after a 94-win season.

The Dodgers have to move Andre Ethier at these meetings to finally eradicate the crowded outfield problem, and must also fill the need of a stopgap shortstop until top prospect Corey Seager is ready.

2015 FAs who could be traded: Pitchers 

December, 2, 2014
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CuetoAnthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports Johnny Cueto is one of many fine pitchers set to hit the free-agent market after the 2015 season.
Much of the talk these days is about the current crop of free agents, but what about next year's crop? Those players could be in demand via trade between now and the July 31 trade deadline. With that, here are the top 10 pitchers set to be free agents after the 2015 season who could be traded. I'll follow up with the top 10 hitters Wednesday.

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1. Johnny Cueto, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

It would be hard for me to believe that the Reds organization would commit to Joey Votto, Homer Bailey, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce but not leave enough in the checking account for Cueto, their staff ace. But with salaries soaring, it's possible the Reds feel they can't put another $140 million on their books. Therefore, they might listen now and trade him by July if they can't get an extension done in the meantime.


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2. Jordan Zimmermann, RHP, Washington Nationals

The Nationals have tried for three years to extend Zimmermann's contract, without success.

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10 bold predictions for this offseason 

November, 20, 2014
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Major League Baseball's offseason is in full swing, complete with 13-year contracts, a trade including a Gold Glover and a good, young pitcher, and a key free-agent signing or two. But that's just the beginning of this wild and wooly offseason.

With that, here are 10 bold predictions I see happening in the weeks ahead:

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1. Jon Lester re-signs with the Boston Red Sox

Most analysts think Lester has pitched his last game for the Red Sox. … I'm not one of them. I think the Chicago Cubs will offer the most years (six) and dollars, but a return to Boston for fewer years (five) and less money is my prediction. The Red Sox desperately need a top-of-rotation starter and won't be a legitimate contender unless they get one. Lester was happy in Boston, and unless the Cubs blow the Sox's offer away, I think that's where he lands.


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2. Marlins sign James Shields

The Marlins shocked the baseball world with the signing of Giancarlo Stanton to a 13-year deal, and they'll do it again by landing a top-of-rotation starter.

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'94 strike: From 1st place to headed home 

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
10:45
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Davey JohnsonStephen Dunn/Getty ImagesManager Davey Johnson and the Reds led the NL Central with a 66-48 record when the strike arrived.
Oh, what could have been.

We, the Cincinnati Reds, had worked to get to the top of our division and become one of the better teams in baseball. Over the course of a short, 20-month span, we had rebuilt and reshaped the team to make a playoff run. We were finally there. We felt we even had a shot at a World Series title.

Had a shot, that is, until Aug. 11, 1994, when at 9:45 p.m. PT, Mariners pitcher Randy Johnson struck out Oakland's Ernie Young, and the baseball players went on strike, resulting in a devastating 7-month work stoppage, which at that time was the longest in the history of major North American professional sports leagues.

The 1994 season was taken from us, and I wonder to this day how far that team could have gone.

1993 struggles

For me, the general manager of the Reds, it was especially tough to take, given the years that led up to it. I was hired by Marge Schott to become the GM of the Reds on Oct. 16, 1992. At the time, I was the youngest GM in the history of baseball, at age 31, and I came out swinging by hiring Tony Perez as manager, trading for Kevin Mitchell and Roberto Kelly, and signing free-agent starting pitcher John Smiley to a four-year contract. I was feeling pretty good about the progress we had made, and Baseball America even referred to me with the headline "Boy Wonder."

The next several months were a different story, and after them, the more appropriate headline would have been "Boy Blunder." Let's just say everything quickly turned into a nightmare.

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Five GMs under pressure to make a deal 

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
11:25
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Ruben Amaro Jr. AP Images/Matt SlocumThe Phillies must start the rebuilding process; Ruben Amaro Jr. has until 4 p.m. Thursday to begin it.
It's go time for major league general managers. This is the time they shine and broker deals that could make or break a team's season, or set in motion its offseason. But certain GMs are under more pressure to make deals than others. Who's under the most pressure? Let's take the temperature of the following GMs and see just how critical it will be for them to get something done.

1. Ruben Amaro Jr. | Philadelphia Phillies

There hasn't been a GM under this much pressure to make multiple deadline deals in a decade.


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Jorge De La RosaAP Photo/Joe MahoneyRockies LHP Jorge De La Rosa could make an excellent addition for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Deadline objectives: NL East | NL Central | NL West | AL East | AL Central | AL West

The National League Central has the best four-team race in baseball, with the Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds all battling for either a division title or a wild-card berth.

And so, with the exception of the Chicago Cubs, every team in the division will likely be buyers at the deadline. The Reds are unique in that they are the only team that really needs to make a significant trade to stay in the race. They'll be looking for a bat. The Brewers, on the other hand, need only an extra bullpen arm, while the Pirates and Cardinals are searching for starting pitching help.

Outside of bullpen arms and bench pieces, the Cubs don't have much left to sell.

I wouldn't expect a blockbuster deal to come out of this division over the next week. Still, I think the NL Central will be active with some smaller deals. Here's the breakdown of what might be coming.

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ViciedoAP Photo/Mark DuncanWhite Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo is on pace for 19 homers and 57 RBIs this season.
Over the course of July, Jim Bowden will be looking at a number of high-profile trade candidates and explain what it would take for certain clubs to acquire that player.

Player: Dayan Viciedo | OF | Chicago White Sox

Possible destinations: Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals


Seattle Mariners

Why? The Mariners are second in the American League in team ERA, behind only the Oakland Athletics, and the top of their starting rotation gives them the chance to run the table in October. So what can prevent them from even making the playoffs? Their offense, or rather the lack thereof; they are dead last in the American League in team OPS. M's GM Jack Zduriencik must make moves to improve this lineup, and without a lot of impact bats available, he might have to focus on Viciedo's 20-homer power (albeit with a low OBP).

Who? The White Sox could ask for any one of Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero or Michael Saunders to see how the Mariners truly value Viciedo.

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Josh WillinghamBrace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images
Over the course of July, Jim Bowden will look at a number of high-profile trade candidates and explain what it would take for certain clubs to acquire that player.

Player: Josh Willingham | LF | Minnesota Twins

Possible destinations: Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners


Cincinnati Reds

Why? The Reds are already dealing with Joey Votto's quad injury, which has taken away much of his power and now has him sidelined. As such, it’s imperative that they get power from the left-field position, something starter Ryan Ludwick (five home runs) and backups Chris Heisey (two) and Skip Schumaker (one) haven't provided, and that's despite playing half their games at hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park.

This team is blessed with Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier having All-Star-caliber seasons, but that doesn't lessen its need to lengthen the lineup by improving the left-field production. Willingham is a below-average defender, but he has a good track record for hitting home runs. Cincinnati could use Heisey as his late-inning defensive replacement. Willingham also has tremendous makeup and character and would fit nicely in the Reds' clubhouse.

Who? The Reds have good stock in their farm system thanks to the great job done by scouting director Chris Buckley and the scouting department, but they won’t be parting with Robert Stephenson, Michael Lorenzen, Jesse Winker or Phillip Ervin at the deadline. However, a deal including pitcher Jon Moscot or pitcher Sal Romano could get it done.

Will it happen?

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Huston StreetAndy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty ImagesThe Padres' Huston Street could fill either the closer or setup role for a number of teams.
Over the course of July, Jim Bowden will be looking at a number of high-profile trade candidates and explain what it would take for certain clubs to acquire that player.

Player: Huston Street | RHP | San Diego Padres

Possible destinations: Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, Cincinnati Reds

Baltimore Orioles

Why? Orioles GM Dan Duquette told me that the bullpen and offense at second base were the two main areas that needed improvement.

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Rookie Rankings: Tanaka dominating 

June, 20, 2014
Jun 20
12:49
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 Masahiro TanakaAP Photo/Kathy WillensIt's been all thumbs up for Masahiro Tanaka this season.
As we near the halfway point in the season, a dozen rookies are having impact upon their pennant-chasing teams thus far. Let's look at my latest rankings and assess the best of the 2014 rookie class.

1. Masahiro Tanaka | RHP | New York Yankees
If the season ended today, Tanaka would win both the AL Cy Young Award and the AL Rookie of the Year Award. I also expect him to start the All-Star Game for the American League if he continues to pitch at this level. Tanaka has been brilliant -- his split-fingered fastball already is the best in the sport, and his late life and command is special, especially when coupled with his vastly underrated secondary pitches.

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The Reds are better than you think 

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30
5:15
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Bryan PriceAP Photo/Paul SancyaNew Reds manager Bryan Price has some very specific changes for the 2014 season.
Somewhat fittingly, the Cincinnati Reds open their season on Monday against the St. Louis Cardinals. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty built the Cardinals into a perennial power and 2006 World Series champion during his tenure as St. Louis’ GM from 1994 to 2007.

With the Reds, Jocketty is trying to do the same, and although some have criticized him for "standing pat" this winter, I believe he built a team that is poised to be in the mix for the National League Central crown once again.

Jocketty still is scouring the trade market for more offensive help for his lineup, and at the very least, some offensive help that can also back up in the infield. But believe in the Reds; they're going to be better than everyone thinks. This past offseason, the Reds made no significant moves, and that was the right move, for another 90-win season and a wild-card berth are well within their grasp in 2014.

No moves, better team



So how can the Reds lose Shin-Soo Choo and Bronson Arroyo via free agency and still have a better team? Thanks to its farm system, Cincinnati has a chance to be better, and here's why:

Hamilton takes over center field: Billy Hamilton might get some bad jumps and take some poor angles, but because of his speed he has so much more range than Choo.

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Seven bold predictions for 2014 

March, 29, 2014
Mar 29
9:25
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Cliff Lee Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesCliff Lee has a lot to be worried about if things go sideways for the Phillies.
With the start of the 2014 season upon us, it's time to take a guess at what might happen this year.

In this space last season, I predicted that Yasiel Puig would become an instant hit in Los Angeles and envisioned a last-place finish for the New York Yankees. Although the Yankees did not end up in the AL East cellar, they definitely fell off, and "Puigmania" did indeed ensue. So here are seven predictions I'm making for 2014.

1. Phillies finish last in the NL East

The Philadelphia Phillies might not have the worst roster in baseball, but they do have the oldest, and it's a team that has been on a steady decline for the past few years.

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Reds betting on Bailey's improvement 

February, 19, 2014
Feb 19
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Homer BaileyJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesHomer Bailey has thrown a no-hitter in each of the last two seasons.
Earlier this winter, I estimated that a contract extension for Homer Bailey would come in at six years for $102 million. Therefore, I am not at all surprised that the right-hander agreed to a six-year, $105 million deal to stay with the Cincinnati Reds.

A gamble on the future

It is not uncommon for a player to get a big contract based on what he has already accomplished. In Bailey's case, he is getting paid for what the Reds still think he can be.

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Players who could lose jobs this spring 

February, 19, 2014
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Some players use spring training to get into playing shape, get their timing down, work on a new pitch or tweak their mechanics. Other players, however, know that time is running out, and if they have a poor spring, they could be out of a job.

Nothing is guaranteed during spring training, and that includes jobs. Here are seven players who are at risk of losing their jobs this spring.

1. Dan Uggla | 2B | Atlanta Braves

Uggla, 33, was a consistent performer from 2007 to '11, belting 30 home runs a season and playing a solid second base. He’s a three-time All-Star who signed a five-year, $62 million deal back in 2011.

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GM buzz: Latest on free agents 

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
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Nelson Cruz Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsNelson Cruz is still looking for a home. Will he find one in Seattle?
With pitchers and catchers due to report to spring training in a couple of weeks, the rumor mill continues to churn because many quality free agents are still on the market, including: Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, A.J. Burnett, Bronson Arroyo, Paul Maholm, Stephen Drew and Nelson Cruz.

Why are so many players still on the market? Well, the agents and union have their theory, while the clubs have a different view. Multiple agents representing free agents who are still on the market told me over the weekend that they, as well as the players' union, are concerned that social networking and the media’s advanced coverage of the sport are hurting the market value of their clients.

Some even went so far as to suggest that teams are possibly violating the clause in the collective bargaining agreement that prevents clubs from influencing a free agent's market value by relaying to the media the offers they’ve made to free agents, and whether clubs plan to make an offer or decline to make an offer. Certainly media coverage of baseball’s offseason is the best it’s ever been, but these conclusions have very little merit when you look at the enormous contracts that were given out this offseason to the likes of Robinson Cano, Clayton Kershaw and Masahiro Tanaka, among others.

On the other hand, general managers and assistant GMs have a different opinion. The majority believe the main reason so many free agents remain on the market is that all have some type of negative issue surrounding them, whether that's injury history, a performance-enhancing drug suspension, career inconsistency or draft-pick compensation. GMs also point to the agents’ inflated expectations in terms of years and dollars considering the risks associated with these players.

With that in mind, here’s the latest scuttlebutt from the front offices around the league.

Where will they land?

David Price is staying in Tampa. Rays GM Andrew Friedman has listened to every club that had a trade proposal for Price and came away knowing his best decision is to keep him and try to win this year.

The Rays know that trading Price at the deadline probably won’t be an option because the team will be in a pennant race, so it will be next offseason when he’s finally traded.

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