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Reds plotting next offseason move

Reds plotting next offseason move

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LAS VEGAS -- The Reds' search for a right-handed-hitting outfielder has them perusing the free-agent landscape.

There aren't many marquee free-agent names among the outfielders, but there are plans to talk with one guy who could garner some buzz -- Pat Burrell.

"They've called us, and I haven't had a chance to get back with them," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said on Wednesday night.

Jocketty has spoken to the people who represent Rocco Baldelli and Juan Rivera as well. The Reds have not spoken with Jay Payton, and they are not interested in Moises Alou.

The Reds' chances of signing Burrell could be a long shot. Earlier in the offseason, Jocketty felt that the Phillies star was out of Cincinnati's price range. Burrell made more than $14 million in 2008. However, with the exception of CC Sabathia, the free-agent market has been relatively stagnant for the bigger names, and the price could come down for the 32-year-old Burrell.

Last season, Burrell batted .250 with 33 home runs and 86 RBIs. He's not considered a strong defensive player.

Baldelli, 27, was once a star for the Rays, but his career has been decimated by injuries in recent seasons. He hasn't played more than 92 games in a year since 2004. Last season while playing 28 games, he batted .263 with four homers and 13 RBIs. He also suffers from mitochondrial disorder, an illness that causes fatigue.

Rivera, 30, batted .246 with 12 homers and 45 RBIs in 89 games with the Angels last season. He broke his leg in winter ball in 2006 and missed much of '07. Last season, he was usually fifth outfielder on a roster loaded with star outfielders, and he's looking for a chance to start.

Another free-agent outfielder who's out there is Milton Bradley, but the Reds have not contacted him. There doesn't appear to be any interest in some of the left-handed hitters out there like Garret Anderson, Bobby Abreu or former Red Adam Dunn.

Cincinnati is not done trying to work a trade to fill the spot. All indications are that the talks with the White Sox about Jermaine Dye are not seriously active. Detroit is shopping Marcus Thames, who made $1.275 million last season. Thames is eligible for arbitration this offseason.

More outfield candidates could surface on Friday when the list of non-tendered players is revealed at midnight ET.

"We're looking at every avenue," Jocketty said.

Compared to Tuesday, when the Reds acquired catcher Ramon Hernandez from the Orioles for Ryan Freel and two prospects, it was a rather quiet day on the Reds' front on Wednesday. Most of their activity in the team suite was limited to internal discussions to plot the next moves.

Free-agent infielder/outfielder Jerry Hairston Jr. left Las Vegas on Wednesday morning for home without getting a deal done. Hairston's agent, Casey Close, is still engaged in talks. The Reds are trying to re-sign Hairston and are still believed to be among three clubs with serious interest.

There has been no movement on the offer for free-agent left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes. The Reds are still believed to be one of three teams in the race to land Rhodes. It's believed most of the offers the lefty has received this winter have been for one-year deals.

"I think they're trying to see what else is out there," Jocketty said. "We really haven't set a deadline, but we're not going to wait forever."

The Winter Meetings at the Bellagio will wrap up following Thursday morning's Rule 5 Draft. Cincinnati's roster is at 39 players, one under the 40-man limit, but the Reds don't expect to make any selections at the big league level.

The Reds' contingent, including Jocketty, are leaving town immediately after the Rule 5 Draft. At this point, the Reds are not expected to make any more moves.

"I don't think we're close enough to get a deal done before 11 a.m. PT [Thursday]," Jocketty said.

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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