The Cincinnati Reds have locked up starting pitcher Homer Bailey for six years with a contract that is reported to be worth $105 million, according to MLB.com writer Mark Sheldon. The contract also allows for multiple options for the seventh year. The Reds were able to avoid an arbitration hearing with Bailey that was scheduled for this Thursday.
The right-hander was 11-12 last season with a 3.49 ERA while signed to a one-year arbitration deal that was worth $5.35 million. Bailey had reportedly been asking for $11.6 million a season, while the Reds were looking to pay him just over $8.5 million. Bailey stated Monday that he and the Reds were “close” to a multi-year extension. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty confirmed on Tuesday that both parties wanted to make deal happen before workouts with pitchers really got underway.
“We’ve made progress,” said Jocketty. “There are still some outstanding issues. Hopefully, we’ll get them resolved in the next 24 hours or someone is going to have to get suited up and go East.”
With his new multi-year contract, Bailey will make just over $20 million a season. Now that both sides are happy and the Reds avoiding the possibilities of Bailey testing free-agency next off-season, both parties can proceed with spring training and the 2014 season.
The 27-year-old is 49-45 in his seven years with the Reds. He has a career ERA of 4.25 with a WHIP of 1.32 and over 700 strikeouts. Bailey has also been the workhorse for the Reds organization by starting over 30 games and pitching in over 200 innings the past two seasons.
He also recorded his second no-hitter last July with a 3-0 victory against the San Francisco Giants. He is only the third pitcher in Reds history to record multiple no-hitters joining Johnny Vander Meer and Jim Maloney.
The Reds are going to need this type of production and dominant effort if they hope to contend in a tough NL Central. Last season the Reds made the playoffs with a wild-card bid, but lost in a one-game playoff against their fellow divisional rival Pittsburgh.
The Reds absolutely had to make this deal happen in order to have some stability in their starting rotation. With the loss of Bronson Arroyo, who signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this month, and Mat Latos recovering from torn knee cartilage that was repaired last week, Bailey stands to be the Reds most reliable pitcher going into opening day. They still have Johnny Cueto as their likely opening-day starter, but the 28-year-old only pitched 60 innings last season due to a summer-long abdominal injury. There are still questions whether or not Cueto will return to his 2012 form, when he went 19-9 with 2.78 ERA in over 200 innings of work.
The team will be able to fill out the rest of their starting rotation with the young arms of Mike Leake and Tony Cingrani, who combined to go 21-11 last season with an ERA of 3.15. With the Latos injury relatively minor, the Reds enter the season with a healthy pitching staff that includes Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall, Manny Parra, and the always dominant Aroldis Chapman rounding out a pretty solid pitching staff. This team will need their bullpen down the stretch if they hope to contend, so it is crucial they refrain from any major injuries to preserve their relief pitchers.
In the first season under new manager Bryan Price, the Reds are looking to return to the top of the NL Central for the first time since 2012. Bailey enters the 2014 season as the 13th-ranked starting pitcher and 49th-ranked player overall according to ESPN.com writer Tristan H. Cockcroft.
Does the signing of Bailey make the Reds the favorite in the division? Not quite. Even with Bailey and a healthy Johnny Cueto I still believe they will only finish third in the division, with the possibility of fighting for a wild-card spot.