The St. Louis Cardinals will be welcoming 162 players to 2013 minor league spring training camp,…
Reds Still Rolling, Add Hannahan
Cincinnati has enjoyed a strong infield for a few years now, but they entered the offseason with a need to add bench depth after poor offensive seasons by Miguel Cairo and Wilson Valdez. Both veterans were granted free agency with no reported efforts to keep them. 37 year-old Scott Rolen is also a free agent and the seven-time all star is now contemplating the future of his distinguished career after being hampered by injuries the past two seasons. One spot was filled by middle infielder Jason Donald who came in the trade with Choo. Now Hannahan will follow them down I-71 to provide a backup for the corner spots. The two veterans will replace departed prospect Didi Gregorius and give Henry Rodriguez more time to develop at Louisville.
The 32 year-old Hannahan hits left-handed and saw more action at third base than anyone else for Indians last season. After coming off a 98-loss season a youth movement made him expendable as the Tribe cleared the hot corner for prospect Lonnie Chisenhall. Hannahan has hit around .250 in both of the last two seasons and has a lifetime average of .235/.316 OB%. He made his major league debut with Detroit in 2006 who invested a third round draft pick on him in 2001. His baseball journey also gave him action in Oakland and Seattle prior to joining Cleveland. Although he's hit only 28 home runs in over 500 career games, he does come with a solid glove. His lifetime range factor is above league average and he's fielded at a .972% clip with nearly all of that action coming at third.
The makeup of MLB rosters is very homogeneous in today's game. Twelve-man rotations and eight-man NL lineups leave only five spots for backup hitters. One of those will be used for a catcher and the rest go to two each infielders and outfielders with preferably both pairs containing one each left/right handed hitters. The arrival of Hannahan fills either the twelfth or last of thirteen position player spots on the active roster, depending on the future of Xavier Paul.
The other two bench positions will be manned by last year's top Reds prospect Devin Mesoraco catching and versatile fourth outfielder Chris Heisey. Paul made it back to the big leagues in the second half of the 2012 after leaving three different organizations in the two previous years. He provided a very good left-handed bat (.314 AVG/.379 OB), but that was over less than 100 plate appearances with the Reds.
It appears that the Redlegs should be finished tweeking their roster for 2014. Their bullpen will have a different look after moving Aroldis Chapman to the rotation. Last year's opening day roster had three southpaws in the pen and now it appears they'll have only one in 2013. Missing will be Bill Bray who enjoyed a fine season as a lefty specialist in 2011 before injuries derailed him this year. Even if they had someone to take over that role it would be tough finding a spot in a group that had the lowest reliever ERA in the league and expects to get back former workhorse Nick Masset who missed all of 2012 with a shoulder injury.
But that doesn't mean there won't be any more deals between now and April. There won't be any on the magnitude of the one that brought in Choo, but it's clear that GM Walt Jocketty is constantly on the lookout for anyone he thinks will help the team's effort in the immediate future. He's already brought in enough talent to merit an early Christmas vacation. The Reds have made a significant upgrade to an average offense without compromising their pitching staff. They've addressed every facet of the roster with offseason activity: lineup, bullpen, bench, and even their rotation with the move of Chapman. There doesn't appear to be any further need to for transactions, but that's not a given.
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