And that's where the Red Sox would be glad to help.
Reds general manager Walt Jocketty recently told MLB Fanhouse that he "might" have to move some high-priced stars to bring down his $71 million salary cap in 2009.
"We're going to probably have less to spend this year than we have in the past," Jocketty told FanHouse. "It just depends on how [ticket] sales go this offseason."
Some of these stars rumored to be moved are second baseman Brandon Phillips ($5 million) and pitchers Aaron Harang ($12.5 million) and Bronson Arroyo ($11 million). Given the way attendance dipped from 2008 to 2009 in Cincy — falling from 2.06 million in 2008 to 1.75 million this year, a drop of more than 15 percent — things aren't looking good for the Big Red Machine's future.
One thing looking good in Cincy's future is first baseman Joey Votto, but how long can the Reds keep the 26-year-old slugging first baseman around?
Votto made peanuts last year, when he signed a one-year deal worth $437,500 in February, but he isn't eligible for arbitration until 2011. While the Reds would like to build around such a solid specimen (he hit .322 with 25 homers and 84 RBIs in 2009), Jocketty's franchise also happens to be blessed with another young stud first baseman in 34th-ranked prospect Yonder Alonso, according to MLB.com. Alonso had a .838 OPS in the minors last season, and the 22-year-old Cuban — who stands in at 6-foot-2, 215-pounds — grabbed 137 total bases in 84 minor league games this summer.
“I mentioned that we’d be restricted as far as payroll,” Jocketty told Cincinnati.com. “We’ve been saying that all along. We won’t be active in the free agent market. We have to be creative. But so little is going on up here as far as trades that people start speculating.”
So you want to get creative, eh, Walter? Then speculate we will. How does this sound: You get three picks of the Red Sox farm litter as well as a suitcase of greenbacks in exchange for your current first baseman whom a) you won't be able to afford a year from today, and b) you can replace in MLB-ready Alonso.
“Oh God, no,” Jocketty told Cincinnati.com when asked if he's going to deal Votto. “It’s all part of the big picture. We’re building a younger club for the long term. If we can get players who are major-league ready — one-to three-year guys — who can help us, we’ll look at it.”
The way Red Sox fans are looking it, Alonso sounds like your man, Walt — and Votto is starting to sound more and more like theirs.