MLB Free Agents 2012: Reds Interested in Michael Cuddyer and Ryan Theriot?

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2011

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Michael Cuddyer #5 of the Minnesota Twins bats against the Cleveland Indians during the fifth inning of their game on September 25, 2011 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. The Twins defeated theIndians 6-4. (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
David Maxwell/Getty Images

Cincinnati Reds general manager Walt Jocketty recently told Cincinnati Enquirer Reds' beat writer John Fay that the team is still interested in trading for starting pitching, but is also looking for help in free agency.

Jocketty expressed his frustration with the lack of moves the organization has made so far, saying, “It’s been an extension of the winter meetings. But we’re still not close on anything. It’s very frustrating.”

Jocketty has expressed interest in free agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer, who is unlikely to return to the Minnesota Twins after being replaced by Josh Willingham.

Last season, Cuddyer hit .284 with 20 home runs. Cincinnati could use Cuddyer in left field, as last year the Reds used seven different players at the position. The Yonder Alonso experiment in left seems to be coming to an end, and while Chris Heisey has potential to become a starter he has yet to prove he can be an effective bat against left-handers.

The issue with Cuddyer is money. The Twins were offering in the $25 million range before moving on, and the supposed near-deal with the Colorado Rockies is for even more. As John Fay notes, that seems to be out of the Reds' price range.

The Reds have also shown interest in ex-St. Louis Cardinal Ryan Theriot. Theriot was not tendered by the Cardinals last week because of the presence of Rafael Furcal. Last season, Theriot hit .271 with 47 RBI's.

Theriot would come as a great backup and mentor to young starter Zack Cozart. Cozart impressed in 11 games last season, but his season was cut short after succumbing to injury and needing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.

Paul Janish doesn't seem like a viable option at short stop anymore, despite his impressive defense. notes other options the Reds may pursue including Orlando Cabrera, Jack Wilson and Nick Punto.

Whichever direction the Reds decide to go in left and at shortstop, one thing is certain: starting pitching is still a more imperative need if the Reds want to be contenders this season.

Jocketty needs to get over his frustration and be willing to pull off a massive trade similar to what the Reds did in the early 70's, which created a decade of championship contenders.

To receive talent, you must trade talent, and that means taking risks. The organization has to be willing to pay and take risks. Second-tier free agents aren't risks.