Cam Bonifay and Mike Squires, two special assistants to Cincinnati Reds GM Walt Jocketty, were in Chicago this week for the White Sox-Minnesota Twins series.
It’s doubtful that Bonifay and Squires were scouting the White Sox, who are buyers, not sellers.
It’s also doubtful that the Reds wanted to see Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano; the Cincinnati rotation is one of the best in the National League.
No, the likely object of attention for the Reds was Twins center fielder Denard Span, who would be a perfect fit at the top of their batting order.
The Reds indeed have “kicked the tires” on Span, but have yet to enter formal discussions with the Twins, according to a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking.
The Phillies’ Shane Victorino and Juan Pierre, both potential free agents, probably are more realistic targets for the Reds as they seek to add a leadoff man.
Span, 28, is signed to such an affordable long-term contract, the acquisition cost for him would be much greater than it would be for a two-month rental.
The Detroit Tigers this week parted with a solid prospect package — right-hander Jacob Turner, catcher Rob Brantly and left-hander Brian Flynn — for right-hander Anibal Sanchez, a potential free agent, and infielder Omar Infante, who only is signed through 2013.
Span — who is guaranteed $3 million this season, $4.75 million next season and $6.5 million in 2014, with a $9 million club option for ’15 — presumably would come at a higher price.
Another coveted Twin, left fielder Josh Willingham, will be difficult to acquire for the same reason; the Twins signed him to a three-year, $21 million free-agent contract last offseason.
On the other hand, the Twins badly want to add young starting pitching — and the Reds presumably could build a package for Span around left-hander Tony Cingrani, who is a combined 10-3 with a 1.62 at Single A and Double A this season.
The reality, however, is that it would take far more than Cingrani to land Span. A potential free agent such as Victorino or Pierre still looks more logical for the Reds.
— Ken Rosenthal