Reds bring Dunn back for another season
The Reds answered their most expensive offseason question by keeping their top power hitter, the only one in franchise history to have 40 homers in four consecutive seasons. Dunn wanted to stay with the team that drafted and developed him.
Owner Bob Castellini was consulted about the decision. Earlier this month, Castellini said he wanted Dunn to stay, even if it cost $13 million.
"Anytime you have a deal of this magnitude, ownership deserves to be part of the process,'' general manager Wayne Krivsky said.
In addition, the Reds picked up the $1.85 million option for first baseman Scott Hatteberg and a $1.35 million option for catcher Javier Valentin, who has been their top pinch hitter the last two seasons.
They declined a 2008 option for reliever Eddie Guardado, who is trying to come back from reconstructive elbow surgery. Guardado pitched in only 15 games last season and would have made $3.5 million.
Even though they declined the pricey option, the Reds are interested in bringing Guardado back next season for less money. The 36-year-old reliever had surgery 13 months ago, and the Reds would like to see if he can get closer to his old form.
"I still want to get Eddie back here on terms that work for him and us,'' Krivsky said. "We have an open mind in that respect.''
Dunn has been one of the Reds' most consistent power hitters throughout his career. Fans have bristled at his strikeouts and his below-average defense, two areas where he improved last season.
Dunn batted .264 with 40 homers, 101 walks and 106 RBIs last season, when he made $10.5 million. In the second half of the season, he dramatically reduced his strikeout rate, finishing the year with 165.
Dunn, who was fishing on Wednesday and unable to return phone calls, said at the end of the season that things had started to come together for him at the plate.
"For him to say that, it must be true,'' Krivsky said. "Maybe it's maturity. He started using the whole field more. He went with pitches better and had more hits the other way.''
At $13 million, Dunn becomes the highest-paid player on the payroll. Ken Griffey Jr. will have a $12.5 million salary next season, the last guaranteed year on his contract.
Hatteberg batted .310 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs last season. He didn't play much in the closing weeks of the season while the Reds tried Joey Votto and Jorge Cantu at first base. It will be one of the team's deepest positions heading into its first season under manager Dusty Baker.
"These things take care of themselves through spring training,'' Krivsky said. "We want to give Dusty all the weapons we can to win with. I think we have depth at several positions.''
Valentin batted .276 with two homers and 34 RBIs. He led the Reds with 40 pinch-hit at-bats.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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