Poor planning, lack of cash could force Reds to slash payroll

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Less than four months ago the Reds traded three players to the Blue Jays for Scott Rolen and the $11.8 million remaining on his contract for 2010, but now Ed Price of Fanhouse reports that they “need to slash payroll” and may be forced to shop high-paid veterans Brandon Phillips, Aaron Harang, and Bronson Arroyo.
Harang and Arroyo are solid starters, but they’re hardly top-of-the-rotation material and Cincinnati would likely have to eat some salary to get either of them off the books. Arroyo is owed $11 million next season and $11 million or a $2 million buyout for 2011. Harang is owed $12.5 million next season and $12.75 million or a $2 million buyout for 2011. Good luck shedding those contracts in this environment.
Phillips would be far easier to trade, because he’s 28 years old, excellent defensively at second base, hit .276/.329/.447 with 20 homers and 25 steals this season, and is owed a more palatable $17.75 million over the next two seasons with a $12 million option or $1 million buyout for 2012. Ironically, general manager Walt Jocketty explained that the extent of the payroll issues may be determined by offseason ticket sales, which will no doubt be hurt by talk of the team having to deal away well-known players.
Getting rid of closer Francisco Cordero and the $25 million that he’s owed over the next two seasons would seemingly be another option to lessen the payroll, but Price notes that the Reds “would prefer to keep” him. Apparently paying $12.5 million per season for a closer who pitches 70 innings is absolutely vital for a team that hasn’t finished above .500 since 2000. Or something.

Report: Welington Castillo to be suspended 80 games for violating Joint Drug Agreement

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirms a report from journalist Américo Celado that White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will be suspended 80 games for violating baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement. Castillo was believed to have used a steroid, but according to Rosenthal, the substance was not a steroid. More details should come on Thursday.

Castillo, 31, entered Wednesday’s action batting .270/.314/.477 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 118 plate appearances. He has gotten the bulk of the work behind the plate, backed up by Omar Narváez.

Castillo’s absence will likely prompt the White Sox to call up Kevan Smith from Triple-A Charlotte. Smith battled an ankle injury in March and April, so he got a late start to the season. In 102 PA at Triple-A, he has hit .283/.343/.457.