The Cincinnati Reds provide the blueprint for how to build a contender by playing the free agent waiting game
November 14, 2011: Philadelphia Phillies sign Jonathan Papelbon to four-year, $50 million contract
January 10, 2012: Cincinnati Reds agree to terms with Ryan Madson on one-year, $8.5 million contract
Here's what we knew about the pitching market heading into this offseason: There were exactly zero elite free-agent starting pitchers available, and roughly 83,000 closers. Any time there's little separation in talent between different players, a team can make one of two logical moves: Go to Plan B, or wait patiently for a great deal to fall into your lap.
The Reds have now done both. In so doing, they've established themselves as legitimate playoff contenders, and fired the first shot in the new year's bargain-hunting season.
Last season's Reds faced the same problem that many Cincinnati teams of recent vintage have endured — they scored a lot of runs, but also gave up too many. Cincy ranked 12th in the National League in 2011 with a 4.16 ERA. You couldn't pin those woes on bad defense either; only the Diamondbacks caught the ball better as a team than the Reds did last season, and Cincinnati's 4.37 FIP ranked dead last in the NL... Continue...