GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) With everyone in camp, the Reds can finally start to sort out two openings in their rotation.
Cincinnati traded away Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon in the offseason, freeing up money that could go toward a long-term deal for 20-game winner Johnny Cueto.
The Reds and Cueto are negotiating, but nothing is imminent. Cueto is entering the final season on his contract.
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Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani – obtained from Miami in the Latos trade – left-hander Tony Cingrani and right-hander Raisel Iglesias are front-runners in the competition for the open spots. There’s also 36-year-old Jason Marquis, who got a minor league deal and was invited to spring training.
Marquis went 9-5 with a 4.05 ERA in 20 starts for the Padres in 2013 before having reconstructive elbow surgery. Marquis pitched briefly for the Phillies’ Triple-A team last year, going 3-1 with a 4.63 ERA in eight starts before being released.
The Reds also signed left-hander Paul Maholm to a minor league deal with a chance to compete in camp. If one of the younger starters struggles, Marquis and Maholm will have a chance.
”We targeted DeSclafani to start for us and we have Tony Cingrani, who has pitched well for us when healthy,” manager Bryan Price said. ”We signed Marquis and Paul Maholm to compete. Those are guys that are comfortable pitching in the big leagues. Marquis has been very impressive.”
Marquis was able to throw over the winter, trying to get closer to his form from before the elbow surgery.
He’s pitched for eight teams during his career, which started with the Braves in 2000. He played for St. Louis in 2004-06, when Reds general manager Walt Jocketty was with the Cardinals. Reds team doctor Timothy Kremchek performed his elbow surgery, so it was a good fit in Cincinnati.
”I did some research,” Marquis said. ”I looked at every team. This team’s top three starters, with Homer Bailey, is pretty good.”
”Walt Jocketty was very upfront with us. I didn’t come to play for the money. I still love it. My family loves it and wants me to play.”
Marquis also pitched for the Cubs, Rockies, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Twins and Padres. He’s convinced that his elbow is strong enough now to make him a legitimate challenger for a spot.
”In my mind, it’s my job to lose,” Marquis said. ”No disrespect to any of these guys, but that’s how I have to approach it.”
All 64 players who are either on the major league roster or invited to camp on minor league deals reported for the first full-squad workout on Tuesday. First baseman Joey Votto, who missed most of last season with a leg injury, took batting practice.