Is locking up Homer Bailey beyond 2014 unattainable for the Cincinnati Reds?
The Cincinnati Reds have remained extremely quiet this offseason. Sure, thy did make a couple of minor moves, but nothing as compared to the previous two offseasons. Remember, the Reds have acquired Mat Latos, Sean Marshall and Shin-Soo Choo over the previous two winters.
After finishing third in the NL Central, claiming the NL’s second wild card spot last season followed by a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the wild card game, no moves have been made to shore up their roster. They lost Choo to free agency, and now there’s a possibility that if the Reds cannot lock up Homer Bailey to a long-term deal, he could be the next to exit the Queen City.
Mark Sheldon of MLB.com notes that Reds GM Walt Jocketty believes retaining Bailey beyond next year will not be an easy task. This is a poignant statement from Jocketty (per Sheldon):
“He would be probably the one guy that’s going to be the most difficult because of how well he’s done and where he’s at in this service class,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “Young pitchers are getting quite a bit.”
Yes, Walt, those young arms are raking. Bailey is only 27. Suggesting that he still has room to improve is extremely viable. In fact, it would actually be expected.
And this leads to a dilemma Reds fans are all too accustomed to hearing. It’s money, and lots of it could well be in Bailey’s future. MLB Trade Rumors Mark Polishuk submitted this yesterday:
Bailey is arb-eligible for the third and final time this winter, and MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projects that Bailey will earn $9.3MM through the arbitration process. Another strong reason for Bailey would almost surely net him a $100MM contract in free agency next offseason, and the mid-market Reds would be hard-pressed outbid richer clubs for Bailey’s services on the open market.
Nine figures? Seriously?
And Bailey has shown he’s a better pitcher than some of his basic numbers indicate. You don’t have to hunt a lot to find such numbers. HIs past two years have been pretty darn good. Looking at the “Value” section of Bailey’s Fangraphs page, Bailey holds a career value of $48.2MM with $29.9MM of that (62%) coming over the past two seasons. That career total includes a season where his value was -$1.4MM. His fWAR for the past two seasons: 2.5 in 2012 and 3.7 in 2013.
The bigger dilemma: Bailey could even be traded. Now Jocketty had said he feels Bailey is important for the Reds in 2014, but if the Redlegs are struggling around the All-Star break, don’t be shocked if Bailey’s name receives many a mention. I also wouldn’t be shocked if the Reds are playing well, but are lacking on the offensive side of the ledger that we hear of Bailey trade rumors.
An arm such as Bailey’s could surely bring a nice bat.
But even if the Reds can’t extend Bailey beyond 2014, the’s always the qualifying offer. Thing is, there’s no guarantee with those picks.