Diving into the depths: Cincinnati Reds

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Cincinnati Reds
1. Aaron Harang
2. Bronson Arroyo
3. Johnny Cueto
4. Homer Bailey
5. Micah Owings
6. Matt Maloney
7. Justin Lehr
8. Mike Lincoln
9. Aroldis Chapman
10. Travis Wood
11. Sam Lecure
12. Mike Leake
Edinson Volquez won’t be back from Tommy John surgery until midseason at the earlier and might not contribute at all this year.
I think Maloney’s a slightly better choice than Owings for the fifth spot, but the veteran will probably be the favorite going in. I’m guessing the Reds will add to the competition by signing one or two of the remaining free agent options. Noah Lowry would make sense.
1. Francisco Cordero
2. Nick Masset
3. Jared Burton
4. Arthur Rhodes
5. Daniel Ray Herrera
6. Carlos Fisher
7. Bill Bray
8. Micah Owings
9. Mike Lincoln
10. Pedro Viola
11. Enerio Del Rosario
12. Philippe-Alexandre Valiquette
13. Aroldis Chapman
14. Sean Watson
15. Jon Adkins
16. Logan Ondrusek
The bullpen is shaping up as a strength. Burton bounced back as last year went along, and Fisher’s ability to shut down right-handers makes him a nice complement to Rhodes and Herrera in the sixth and seventh innings.
Bray might open the year on the disabled list as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery, but the hope is that he’ll be ready to battle for a spot this spring.

1. Ramon Hernandez
2. Ryan Hanigan
3. Corky Miller
First base
1. Joey Votto
2. Ramon Hernandez
3. Yonder Alonso
Second base
1. Brandon Phillips
2. Aaron Miles
3. Drew Sutton
4. Miguel Cairo
5. Paul Janish
6. Todd Frazier
7. Chris Valaika
Third base
1. Scott Rolen
2. Juan Francisco
3. Aaron Miles
4. Drew Sutton
5. Miguel Cairo
6. Todd Frazier
1. Orlando Cabrera
2. Paul Janish
3. Chris Burke
4. Zack Cozart
The depth here is still pretty unimpressive, but maybe Alonso and Francisco will prove ready to step in if Votto and Rolen are forced to miss time again this year. Rolen, at least, seems very likely to serve a DL stint or two. Of course, both of those youngsters will start off in the minors, leaving the Reds with Miles and one from the group of Cairo, Sutton and Janish to occupy utility roles.
Left field
1. Chris Dickerson
2. Wladimir Balentien
3. Laynce Nix
4. Juan Francisco
5. Todd Frazier
Center field
1. Drew Stubbs
2. Chris Dickerson
3. Chris Heisey
4. Josh Anderson
Right field
1. Jay Bruce
2. Wladimir Balentien
3. Laynce Nix
The Reds made noises at the end of last season about forcing Bruce to compete for a job this spring. Since then, though, they’ve subtracted Jonny Gomes and Willy Taveras and added no one, unless Anderson counts. So, Bruce has nothing to worry about. A Dickerson/Balentien platoon could prove surprisingly effective, but it’s still possible the Reds will add more players to that mix. Considering that Francisco, Frazier and Heisey could all factor into the mix later, I think they’re OK sticking with what they have.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.