GM says Reds’ payroll will rise in 2012, but don’t expect big free agent signings

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General manager Walt Jocketty said earlier this week that the Reds will exercise their $12 million option on Brandon Phillips for next season and today he revealed that the team’s payroll will rise from the current $80 million mark.

“Our preliminary projections are that we’ll bump it up a little,” Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “We’re still working on the end number. But it will be more than it was this year.”

Fay speculates that the “bump” will be to around $85 million, which is why Jocketty replied “probably not” when asked about potentially pursuing big-name free agents. All but 12 teams have a payroll above $85 million this season.

If the Reds pick up their options on Phillips and closer Francisco Cordero that would put them at $68 million in commitments before factoring in arbitration raises and minimum-salaried players, so unless they cut Cordero loose Jocketty will be bargain shopping.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.