With the winter chill still in the air, the first sign that spring is at least on the way is that it's now less than 30 days until pitchers and catchers arrive at spring training. With that in mind, the free agent signing process is heating up with some pretty big names still out there for the taking.
The Cubs are still apparently in the market for an outfielder and there are rumors that Jermaine Dye and the franchise have some interest in each other. Dye is at least familiar with the city after spending some quality time on the other side of town with the White Sox. He might be asking too much and if you look at his second half, .179 average with seven homers, might turn some teams off, He still had 27 home runs last year though, his fifth in a row over 25 homers.
Miguel Tejada, a SS/3B position player, is an attractive option for some teams and after a season in which he hit .313, the Cardinals have displayed some interest. As a Reds fan, that makes me cringe.
Johnny Damon is still out there for teams who want a leftfielder. He already rejected the Yankees' two-year offer and after reaching base more than 36 percent of the time with some power, the Braves could be in the running. They'd love nothing more than getting an outfielder that scored 107 runs last year.
Perhaps the most intriguing possibility is starting pitcher, Joel Pineiro, whose 15-12 season more or less raised the asking price more than the Cardinals could afford. After re-signing Matt Holliday, the coffers are a little bit thin unless America starts pounding down more Anheiser-Busch products at the ballpark.
The Reds have started spending money on the future, especially with Latin American players over the last couple of years and the $30 million, 10-year commitment to 21-year old flamethrower, Aroldis Chapman, gives fans some hope.
While Cincinatti fans are used to ever-shrinking payrolls, the team has loosened the purse strings a bit of late. The team has committed $2.5 million to Yorman Rodriguez and another $2 million to Juan Duran in 2008. They also ponied up a half million dollars for a 30th-round draft pick.
The signing of Scott Rolen helped quickly last season as Cincinnati finished the season 27-13 when he returned from the disabled list. With the Reds willing to keep him and add some young pitching, there is a reason to pay attention to baseball while there's still snow on the ground. The question is, will there be a reason to pay attention when the calendar hits August?