February 1, 2013
Friday, February 1
Back on Oct. 11, after the Reds were eliminated from the playoffs in Game Five of the National League Division Series, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweeted that Cincinnati’s third baseman, Scott Rolen, had played his last major-league game. But the 37-year-old Rolen never formally announced that he was hanging up his cleats, and, after a winter of flip-flopping, it appears that he intends to wear them for at least one more year.
Rolen wants to return for 2013, may fit better with Dodgers than Reds
Fay believes that the Reds have already reached their spending limit for the 2013 season, based on Jocketty’s decision to backload, or defer payments in, some of the contracts that he has recently tendered. For example, Jonathan Broxton—who signed a three-year, $21 million hitch on Nov. 28 and is expected to take over the closer role from Aroldis Chapman—is set to earn only $4 million this year, before his salaries spike to $7 million in 2014 and $9 million in 2015. Similarly, Ryan Ludwick’s two-year pact includes a $4.5 million buyout for a third-year club option, a framework that essentially served as an accounting gimmick, enabling Jocketty to bump the total value of the deal up to $15 million, while deferring nearly a third of that outlay without interest.
If Fay’s read on the significance of the deferrals is accurate, then Rolen would need to settle for a considerably lower paycheck than the $6.5 million sum that he took home in 2012. Suppose, for now, that Rolen and his agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, are amiable to more team-friendly terms. The next hurdle, opening up a roster spot and allocating a reasonable dose of at-bats, might be even trickier to clear.
The Frazier-Hannahan combination at third base is somewhat unorthodox, but it has the potential to be productive. Frazier offers right-handed power and can hold his own in the field; Hannahan, a left-handed hitter, is one of the best defensive third basemen in the league, and did enough versus northpaws (.268 TAv) last year to warrant more than just defensive-replacement and utility-man work. There is little room on the bench for a third corner infielder that does not bring additional versatility, and, even during his athletic prime, Rolen never made a major-league appearance at an up-the-middle or outfield position.
Jocketty echoed that sentiment to Fay on Thursday night, when he told him, “We’re talking about the details—how much opportunity is there.” Given the Reds’ roster situation, and the public-relations challenge for Jocketty of potentially closing the door on an accomplished player, I could picture their discussions going something like this, with Jerry Seinfeld playing Jocketty and George Costanza playing Rolen.