Chicago White Sox signed free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera to a three..."/> Chicago White Sox signed free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera to a three..."/>

Cincinnati Reds Have Few Free Agent Outfield Options Left


Sep 22, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (31) reaches first base against the Baltimore Orioles on an error during the third inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

When the Chicago White Sox signed free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera to a three-year, $42-million contract yesterday, they nabbed the last remaining “big name” free agent bat remaining for teams who need offensive help heading into 2015. The Cincinnati Reds fall firmly into that category, of course, and are now left to sift through the commons bin of names that don’t inspire visions of grandeur.  Can the Reds find a diamond in the rough among the leftovers?

It’s going to be tough, to say the least.  As of Monday morning, here are the remaining free agent outfielders, as listed on the 2014-15 MLB Free Agent Tracker at

  • Nori Aoki
  • Emilio Bonifacio
  • Mike Carp
  • Endy Chavez
  • Tyler Colvin
  • Chris Denorfia
  • Andy Dirks
  • Ryan Doumit
  • Cole Gillespie
  • Jonny Gomes
  • Tony Gwynn
  • Scott Hairston
  • Corey Hart
  • Raul Ibanez
  • Reed Johnson
  • Jason Kubel
  • Ryan Ludwick
  • Nyjer Morgan
  • Mike Morse
  • Colby Rasmus
  • Nolan Reimold
  • Alex Rios
  • Nate Schierholtz
  • Ichiro Suzuki
  • Delmon Young
  • Eric Young

That’s the stuff of dreams, right there.

The Reds have been linked to Aoki, Denorfia and Morse in various rumors throughout the off-season, but they are generating enough interest that the team landing them will probably overpay.  The Reds apparently don’t have interest in a Jonny Gomes reunion, and Rasmus is starting to draw interest from bigger-buck teams in Chicago and Baltimore.

Reimold and Delmon Young are interesting names who could represent good buy-low value if general manager Walt Jocketty acts soon. Both are “damaged goods” to some extent, either due to injury or lingering character issues, but both are still near their physical peak and could offer a power uptick in the Reds’ lineup.

Even with their rejiggering this past week, the Reds are still in a pickle for 2015.  While every team has a weakness or two that they just can’t overcome, even as they’re winning championships, the Reds essentially have NO left fielder at all as 2015 dawns.  That they have to make some sort of move between now and Spring Training is as obvious as the nose on Ernie Lombardi’s face, but their options are just about gone, at least on the free agent front.  They could still trade for a bat, of course, but Jocketty insists that the Reds can’t take on more salary, so, as usual, he is hamstrung in that department.

One name from the list above that might make for just the right Cincinnati pick-up heading into their All-Star year is, believe it or not, Ichiro Suzuki.  We’ve made this point before, but what the Reds really need is a bridge to Jesse Winker in left field and a way to draw fans in the first half of a season that could get ugly but will see the Midsummer Classic unfold at Great American Ball Park in July.

Ichiro fits that bill.

Standing at 2844 hits, you have to think that Ichiro will do everything he can to stick around long enough to collect his 3000th hit in the Major Leagues, and a move to the National League might give him a boost.  Certainly, the DH-less style of play lend itself to a tad more small-ball tendency, and that suits Ichiro, even at age 41.  He managed to play in 128 games in the outfield last season for the New York Yankees, and came in right around league-average in the field.  He could probably manage the same for the Red in left in 2015, and his presence would almost certainly provide an attendance boost.

The Reds have pretty much already punted on left field for 2015, so they need to make the best of  a tough situation.  Ichiro just might be that last best option.