Reds GM Walt Jocketty has two World Series participants on his list of free agent targets: 1B/OF Michael Morse (formerly of the Giants) and outfielder Norichika Aoki (formerly of the Royals), John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Jocketty prefers to add offense via free agency as opposed to making a trade.
Morse, 32, had another productive season for the Giants, hitting .279/.336/.475 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI in 482 plate appearances. During the post-season, Morse started only four games, but hit .300 with a home run and five RBI in 22 plate appearances as the Giants went on to win their third championship in five years.
Aoki, 32, batted .285/.349/.360 with 43 RBI and 17 stolen bases for the Royals during the regular season. In the playoffs, he hit .195 in 48 trips to the plate.
The Reds averaged the third fewest runs per game in 2014 at 3.67. They ranked ahead of only the Braves (3.54) and Padres (3.30), falling under the National League average of 3.95.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.