The Reds have a gaping hole in their outfield now that Shin-Soo Choo is a free agent, and with little hope of bringing Choo back, they have turned to another high-quality free agent. According to agent Dan Lozano, by way of Primera Hora, the Reds have reportedly inquired about outfielder Carlos Beltran.
Beltran has a lengthy list of suitors already, so the Reds might need to get in line. Beltran would make sense for them, though, as Choo was an offensive monster in 2013, and even with that, the Reds didn't produce much at the plate: While they finished third in the National League in runs scored, it was due more to timely hitting (they were second in the NL in OPS with runners in scoring position) than due to their overall, below-average performance. Losing Choo won't make things any easier, as .423 on-base percentage gave Joey Votto and Jay Bruce someone to drive in constantly.
Where in the outfield Beltran would play is a bit of a mystery, though, as his knees and age keep him from being a center fielder these days, and Ryan Ludwick certainly doesn't fit the bill. Jay Bruce might be the default in an outfield with this trio, but after watching Choo out there for a year, it's clear the Reds will do what they can to inject some life into the lineup.
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While Beltran isn't the OBP-machine Choo was, he's posted a .288/.356/.503 line over his last three seasons, and, like with Choo moving from Cleveland's Progressive Field to Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark, would see a boost in his performance if for no other reason than a venue change. Busch Stadium is pitcher-friendly, and reduces home run power for both lefty and righty hitters, a relevant point for the switch-hitting Beltran. According to Stat Corner, over the last three years, Great American Ballpark has boosted homers for righties by 42 percent, and 39 percent for lefties.
The Reds would also be a fit for Beltran personally because of this, as he's looking to be on a team that will be in contention -- the Reds were in the playoffs in 2013, and, besides Choo, will have the better parts of their roster intact -- and can hit in a park that will further boost his Hall of Fame credentials over the last few years of his career. The one negative is that, in Cincinnati, Beltran won't be able to slot in as the designated hitter, except for during the occasional interleague game.
Whether or not the Reds will pay Beltran what he wants is the real question: Will they be the team willing to give him the third year that has caused others like the Yankees to balk? With prospect -- and center fielder -- Billy Hamilton around, it's hard to believe the Reds would cave on a longer contract in order to bring Beltran in, but they could always attempt to move someone like Ludwick in a trade if they prefer Beltran's bat in the fold.