"My wife grew up with Dontrelle's aunt," Baker said after being asked his reaction to the trade. "I was like, man, we could have rode to Spring Training together."Baker has been impressed with all the activity taking place in the Reds' hotel suite -- and elsewhere -- this week. "We're trying. We're trying every day," he said. "This is probably the most activity that I've seen at a Winter Meetings in a long time. Usually people are posturing here to make deals. This is the first time that I can remember in a long time that I've seen people posturing, and then completing the deal." One agent said that trade talks league-wide have hindered action on the free agent front since teams are trying to avoid paying open market prices. The feeling was free-agent signings could pick up next week if all trade avenues are exhausted. Only two free-agent signings have happened at the meetings, with Jose Guillen reportedly going to the Royals and David Riske to the Brewers. More on Cantu: Krivsky called the unexpected release of Cantu a "baseball decision" and nothing more. The Reds have lefty hitters Joey Votto and Scott Hatteberg, but Krivsky said the club could turn to utility man Jeff Keppinger as a right-handed option at that spot. "We wanted to get down to 39 [players on the roster] to participate in the Rule 5 Draft [Thursday]," Krivsky said of the Cantu move. "We just felt like the situation we were in, he was the guy to come off." Acquired in July from the Rays, Cantu batted .298 with one home run and nine RBIs in 27 games. Although arbitration eligible, he was expected to return next season. Camp invites: The Reds announced on Wednesday night that eight players have been invited to Spring Training as non-roster players. As expected two top prospects, outfielder Jay Bruce and starting pitcher Johnny Cueto will be in camp. Pitcher Tom Shearn, who posted a 3-0 record as a 30-year-old rookie late last season, will also be there. Also invited are pitchers Matt Maloney, Jon Adkins and Justin Lehr and catchers Alvin Colina and Chris Kroski. Rule 5 Thursday: The Reds could be active during the Rule 5 Draft on the last day of the Winter Meetings. Cincinnati picks seventh and Krivsky indicated there were "three or four names" that the team was looking at. In last year's Rule 5 Draft, the Reds pulled off a coup by getting Josh Hamilton and Jared Burton, and both became big parts of the team last season. That's a rarity with Rule 5 selections. Exposed players taken for a $50,000 fee have to stay on big league rosters the entire season or be offered back to their former teams at half price. "We were very fortunate last year with Burton and Hamilton," Krivsky said. "It ends up being a $25,000 gamble basically. You spend $50,000 and get $25,000 back if they don't make it. We spend a lot of time on the Rule 5 Draft, as I'm sure most clubs do." Not interested: Former Reds manager Jerry Narron recently turned down an offer from the Cubs organization to be a Minor League instructor. Narron, who was dismissed by Cincinnati on July 1, is still being paid by his former team through 2008. He's apparently not actively pursuing a baseball job so he can use the year off to spend more time with his children.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.