CINCINNATI -- It seems inevitable that the Reds will make deals before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but when? And who?
The green light was given by CEO Bob Castellini to make the necessary trades in order to rebuild. What is unclear, beyond the expected departure of Johnny Cueto, is just how many veteran players Cincinnati will make available.
"If it makes sense, but we're not going to give away players," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said.
It had been quiet around the Major Leagues until the Astros acquired Scott Kazmir from the A's on Thursday.
One of the most-watched sellers because of both the quality and volume of their movable assets, the Reds could certainly enter the dealing frenzy early by making one of the first moves. However, nothing appears to be close. Jocketty said he's been on the phone with other clubs and in contact with his scouts who are looking at players around the country.
"We've been talking with a lot of different people, but we haven't been receiving offers that have us wanting to commit," Jocketty said.
For Jocketty, it's an unfamiliar position to be in selling mode. In past years, he sought to make additions for a playoff push or stood pat. With a 42-51 record, which has the team 8 1/2 games out of the second National League Wild Card spot, Cincinnati's end game for this year's Deadline is to retool for 2016 and beyond.
"It's different, but we get a chance to look at other team's players," Jocketty said. "We're looking for younger players with longer control. … We're building for the future. We're looking at the long term and the short term."
Leading the list of players who will be coveted on the market is Cueto, a free agent after the season who is being largely viewed as a rental for the rest of the year. Cueto has had some brilliant outings, like his two-hit shutout of Washington on July 7, but him missing a start in May with right elbow stiffness has also reportedly been a concern for some scouts.
The Reds are playing a sort of poker with their pitchers. The level of return for Cueto could be diminished if fellow ace starters like Tigers ace David Price, Yovani Gallardo of the Rangers or the Phillies' Cole Hamels, who are all reportedly available, are traded first. That didn't seem to concern Jocketty, though.
"Not really. I don't think so," the GM said.
Starting pitcher Mike Leake will also be a free agent at season's end, and his dependability could attract some suitors as well. Right fielder Jay Bruce, who is signed through 2016 with a club option for '17, has been in many rumors lately, and he's been connected to the Orioles and Angels, as both clubs need corner outfield and offensive help.
The Deadline to make trades without waivers is 4 p.m. ET on July 31. Deals can be made afterwards, but it requires the players to clear waivers, which means other teams can block deals by putting in a claim on a player.