You have to love these deals. The Reds inked Jeff Francis to a minor league deal. He finished 6-16 for a bad Royals team last year but he logged 183 innings and he’ll be a good guy to have pitching down in Louisville in the event the pitching rich Reds run into problems with their rotation.
Francis was once a top prospect for the Colorado Rockies and he seemed to live up to his billing in 2007 when he went 17-9. He’s become more of a pitch to contact pitcher though and while his strikeout rate has come down considerably since then, he also sports a solid walk rate. Nice pick up with no risk.
The Reds have their closer in a great deal. They signed former Phillies closer Ryan Madson to a one year, $6 million deal. Madson was the Phillies closer for the first time in his nine year career and he put together some solid numbers but when he went looking for a long term deal, nobody came knocking. Madson’s loss is the Reds win because now they have a better closer at a better price.
Madson gave up just two home runs in 60 2/3 innings and he struck out 62 with just 16 walks. Ultimately, the Reds will be on the hook for $8.5 million because there’s an $11 million mutual option for 2013 with a $2.5 million buy out. Madson ran into problems when other closers were signed early and now he has an out if he’s lights out in 2012.
The Reds farm system is a little thinner then it was a couple of months ago because of some trades but the Reds still have some prospect talent. Kevin Goldstein unveiled his list of the top eleven Reds prospects and you have the big two, then some supporting characters. Topping the list is Billy Hamilton. The second round pick in 2009, Hamilton had a nice showing for Dayton last year and he should move up to High-A next year. This guy is fast and he’s the shortstop of the future it’s just going to take a couple of years.
Devin Mesoraco comes in at number two and after making his Reds debut, he should break camp with the club where he’ll catch with Ryan Hanigan for the year. He doesn’t have a lot left to prove in Louisville and he’s probably not in the same league as a Brian McCann, but hopefully he’ll give the Reds some stability at the position.
ZacK Cozart is third and he’s also a shortstop. He’s further up the chain then Hamilton and he might hold the fort for them the next couple of years and hopefully he’ll work out as the Reds starting shortstop in 2012. Robert Stephenson (RHP, several years away) and Daniel Corcino (RHP) round out the top five.