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Depth important component for Reds

Depth important component for Reds

LAS VEGAS -- Economics played a part in the Reds' trade talks cooling with the White Sox over Jermaine Dye, Reds manager Dusty Baker confirmed on Monday.

During a session with reporters at the Winter Meetings, Baker said talks haven't been held with Chicago for a couple of weeks.

"You guys were late on that one," Baker told reporters. "That was a couple weeks ago there was talk. I thought that those talks were kind of off because of the economics and because everybody wants young players, which we are trying to groom to keep."

The Reds shot down a rumor on Sunday that they would send 22-year-old pitcher Homer Bailey to the White Sox in exchange for Dye.

Finding a right-handed hitter, preferably a corner outfielder, is a primary concern for the Reds this offseason. Dye batted .292 with 34 home runs, 96 RBIs and a .344 on-base percentage last season.

The 35-year-old Dye will make $11.5 million in 2009 and has a $12 million mutual option for 2010.

"Were we interested in Jermaine Dye? Most definitely," Baker said. "It's just a matter of how much it's going to cost the team. The economics, whether you want to face it or not, is a big issue, and not only in baseball, but in the world. Right now we are in an economic crisis."

Whether it's Dye, or another right-handed hitter, the Reds want a consistent run producer that they can stick in the lineup between left-handed sluggers Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.

"Most of our young guys and our power guys are left-handed," Baker said. "We were left-handed strong last year."

Baker said that the Reds were also seeking a center fielder. Earlier this offseason, Cincinnati attempted to acquire outfielder Coco Crisp from the Red Sox. Crisp was dealt to Kansas City instead.

The Reds were pleased with rookie center fielder Chris Dickerson after his first big league promotion in August. However, Baker cited concerns over Dickerson's durability as a reason Cincinnati wasn't ready to commit to him.

"I like what I see in Dickerson, but you look at his track record and injuries, that's what kind of, you know, makes you a little apprehensive," Baker said. "I mean, I'm hoping that he's well now. He's had like four knee operations, one on one knee, one on the ankle. That's a lot in a short period of time. I like what I saw. You've just got to stay healthy, number one."

Dickerson missed most of the last few weeks of the season with an ankle fracture that required surgery. He is expected to be 100 percent for Spring Training.

The Reds are also looking for a catcher to pair with Ryan Hanigan after a strong rookie showing last season. Baker spoke with reporters before a rumor began circulating that Cincinnati was trying to acquire Orioles veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez.

"We're in the process of trying to get a guy that has a track record of handling pitchers," Baker said. "And displaying more offense at the same time, and that can throw runners out and block balls. These guys aren't that easy to find. I like what [Hanigan] brings to the table and we can go with a combination of some guys. I know guys like throwing to him."

The 74-88 Reds finished fifth in the National League Central last season during Baker's first year with the club. Entering the second year of a three-year contract, he stated his desire for organization to grow its depth of younger players.

"We're trying to build this thing for a long period of time," Baker said. "I didn't come here for a little short run. I came here for, hopefully, a long and final run maybe."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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