The Cincinnati Reds have hovered around the .500 mark for most of the season and currently sit at 41-43.
In most years, it would seem that would be enough for the Reds to be sellers at the trade deadline. However, in this year’s extra-weak NL Central, they are still in the race.
One name that the Reds are surfacing as being interested in is Blue Jays’ third baseman Scott Rolen.
The Toronto Sun reports that the Reds have talked internally about obtaining Rolen from the Blue Jays.
Despite having a better record than Cincinnati, the Blue Jays are nine games back in the AL East and reportedly are ready to shop some of their high-priced stars, including former Cy Young winner Roy Halladay.
The Reds had a scout in St. Petersburg to watch Rolen this week as the Jays played the Tampa Bay Rays, according to the paper.
Rolen, who is currently riding a 25-game hitting and third in the AL batting title race, is due $11 million this year and next.
The 34-year old is still playing Gold Glove-caliber defense at the hot corner and is tearing it up at the plate despite seeing a dip in his power numbers.
After batting just .262 during his first season as a Blue Jay last year, Rolen’s average is up to .330 this season.
He was considered a threat to hit the long ball, hitting 21 or more home runs in nine out of ten seasons from 1997 through 2006.
Injuries have limited though over the past four seasons, averaging 379 at bats per season in that span.
For the Reds, Rolen would be a perfect fit.
The team needs a third baseman. They also desperately need a right-handed bat in the middle of the order. Rolen fits the bill.
Only four teams in all of baseball have a worse team average than the Reds’ .248 clip. The team also ranks near the bottom of the league in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and batting average with runners in scoring position.
While the Blue Jays would like to dump salary, they are going to demand something of value in return from the Reds.
In addition to prospects, the Reds’ current third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, 26, would figure to be included in the mix.
He started 143 games at third for Cincinnati a year ago, hitting .251 with 26 home runs and 68 RBI.
In 2008, Encarnacion has played in just 25 games after breaking his wrist in April, and is hitting just .150 with one homer.
He earns $2 million this season and next season will earn $4.75 million.
Rolen is from the Midwest and would likely welcome a move to Cincinnati. The Reds were interested in acquiring him back in 2002 when Philadelphia, his original team, shopped him.
Instead of landing in Cincinnati though, Rolen landed in St. Louis, the Reds’ divisional foe. Ironically, the Cardinals’ GM that made that deal was Walt Jocketty, who now holds the same position in Cincinnati.
Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News is reporting that a Rolen deal by the Reds is unlikely though. He writes that the $22 million still owed to the veteran is “way over the Reds’ head,” but did add that Rolen “loves Cincinnati and may eventually play for the Reds. But not now, and not next year.”