FYI:

The Reds are still talking with the agent for third baseman Edwin Encarnacion in efforts to avoid arbitration, general manager Walt Jocketty said on Thursday.

Encarnacion’s hearing was scheduled for Feb. 17. He is seeking $3.7 million while the club offered $2.55 million. Assistant GM Bob Miller has been the point-man for the club in negotiations and had talks as recently as Wednesday with Encarnacion’s agent.

I think an agreement will get done on this, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it announced soon.

That brings up another point, one which I’m going to write a longish post about sometime soon: Don’t you think the Reds should lock up Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Edinson Volquez, and Johnny Cueto to long-term deals? Like, now? Isn’t that the way smart teams handle young stars?

21 Responses

  1. preach

    He’s easily worth $3 mil. On a side note: How much more does it cost teams to lock up their young talent when it doesn’t appear they are really playing to win right now? No way Burrell comes here for what Tampa got him for, of course the weather and the DH factored into that as well, but how much of like type of signings could be playing for a team who might still be playing in late September/October be worth? If you are not an attractive option to big name FA’s, why will your youngsters be any different? Of course that logic dictates locking them up while you can, but perhaps you wouldn’t have to lock them up for as much and still spend a little on some guys who could help you win right now.

    We’ll be fortunate to be in third place. And dead last would not suprise me at all….No, I’m not being negative, but realistic.

  2. Gumby

    With the way that the pay is strucutred in baseball, it makes no sense to lock up young guys when the club has 3 to 5 years of abritration. The guys we have are good, but we sould just wait for a year or two till their arbritration is almost done then talk long term. There is no reason to spend money now when a. we do nto have a lot to spend and b. arbritration hearings go go either way, why risk giving a lot of money to someone who is one injury away from being Griffey. Edwin is worth the 3 mil easy though, and he sould be lockd up now before it is too late.

  3. GregD

    Bruce and Votto, yes.
    Volquez and Cueto, no.

    Though, if I were in Bruce’s shoes, I’d be inclined to wait for my breakout season to negotiate.

  4. Dan

    I’m not at all convinced that locking up young talent is the smart thing to do. We’re enjoying the payoff now of developing good talent – for a few years (until arbitration), their production FAR exceeds their cost. Why rush to get past that point?

    Also, be very wary of long-term deals, especially w/ pitchers. ESPECIALLY w/ young pitchers.

    Volquez has had 1 good year. Cueto has had 1 so-so year. No way we can offer these guys 3 or 4 or more years, IMO. That’s asking for trouble.

    (Remember when the Yankees gave 4 guaranteed years to both Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano, after they had each had 1 or 2 good years? It was a complete disaster.)

    Let’s be patient and enjoy the great value we’re getting here for at least another year or two.

  5. Shawn

    Well, the thing is, you don’t go past that. The player trades guaranteed millions, and the lack of need for negotiations, for possible future income.

    Say we talk to Jay Bruce. Bruce is not eligible for arbitration this year or next. The Reds agree to pay him $500K this year and $750K next, as a gesture of good faith. Then, when he becomes arb-eligible, it goes up…say, to $4 mil in 2011, then $6 mil in 2012. Hopefully, you buy out all his arbitration years, plus a year or two of free agency.

    It’s a win-win.

  6. David

    Shawn – I think you’re kidding yourself if you think Bruce would sign a 4 year $11 million deal. Try 8 years at $45 million like Ryan Braun signed (by the way most observers think Braun took a discount).

    I’ll get more into the pros and cons when Chad writes his longish post.

  7. rpa

    if i were any of those players, no way would i sign a long term contract with this club. but, i’m not.

    this is the bottom of the market right now due to the economic conditions, and if they perform even reasonably well, they’ll make as much in arb as the reds will offer them, and they’ll be able to get out of town asap as soon as their free agency ship comes in and play for a winner, or if the team has turned itself around, the reds i’m sure will offer them good money to stay here. win-win for the player to wait unless they are concerned their careers will collapse.

    i mean, if i’m a young pitcher i might make a long-term deal as a hedge against injury (maybe that’s even the smart thing to do if dusty baker is your manager and you pitch half of your games at gabp). for a guy like votto or bruce, unless they are desperate for cash RIGHT NOW there’s no way they should let themselves be locked up long-term based on last year’s performance in a down economy. they can both put up better numbers, they can both ask for contracts in a better economy… etc. there’s just no reason for them to do it at all. if votto or bruce’s agents suggested a long-term deal now, i’d figure we would see them sued for malpractice shortly thereafter.

  8. Deaner

    No doubt the Reds need to lock up those young players – especially Bruce and Votto. I would like to see another year out of Cueto and Volquez… also with pitchers, you never want to sign them for any more than 3 years, 4 at the most.

  9. Matt Steele

    I think we need to lock up Bruce only right now.

    I like Joey Votto a lot, but at this point I don’t consider him a future star like I do Jay Bruce. I think he’ll be a really good player, but in the next 2-4 years, he might become expendable, depending on many factors.

    I’m much more hesitant about locking in pitchers for lengthy contracts, though if we could get it done cheaply, then I’m all for it.

    However I think this is how small and mid size markets need to compete now, take a page from some of these other teams that are locking their stars into below market value for many years. I think it’s a very smart idea

  10. Jose

    Votto is a stud
    he has come a long way
    and will continue on to be great

    Eddy… ehhh
    im not sold on him

  11. brublejr

    Bruce…yes, Votto…yes. Cueto and Volquez I like a LOT but they I would wait to see what this year brings first. Votto is going to be consistent, Bruce will be a great player, but pitchers are so up and down it is hard to say to lock them in right now. Now if Volquez puts up a similar year this year as last year, most def. they should lock him up. However, locking up those 4 guys would mean others would have to be traded…Arroyo and Cordero come to mind.

    As far a EE, this is his make or break season with the Reds. There are a lot of guys coming up, and if he has a subpar year, I don’t see him as a Red much longer. Just a hunch. I think he gets a 1 year deal 2.95-3 mil range

  12. Brian

    For the majority of young players the trend has been to sign them and lock them up well before they go through the years of arbitration that way they are locked in and because of that there will likely not be bad feelings between the player and team over trading contract dollars.

    However, aside from Longoria and only a few others you normally don’t see this happen until after they get past there second year in the big leagues.

    Bruce, Votto, Volquez and Cueto are probably all being discussed by the Reds for potentially signing to a long term deal after this season. Votto and Volquez are probably the most likely to be signed to a long term deal after this season IF they develop consistency with their numbers from last year. Given I don’t think many people are expecting Volquez to be as lights out as last year but if he can just establish himself beyond his breakout season he has to be considered. Bruce in my opinion, and I know people will call me crazy, needs to improve upon last season. He is a good potentially great young player but he still needs to improve but if he does improve, which I think he will, then he has to be up there with Votto and Volquez to be signed after the year. Cueto of all four has to improve the most before he is signed to a long term deal, he is really young and the Reds have his rights for a long time to come and has to improve.

    With that said I think you see after the season the Reds reach out to all four (Votto, Bruce, Volquez and Cueto) regarding getting the ball rolling, but you see them use money to sign Votto, Bruce and maybe Volquez and wait on Cueto until 2010.

    EE, you don’t sign long term, if he doesn’t play well then you look to the farm system in the near future whether it be Valaika moving the 3B Francisco or others. He gets a 1 year deal in the 3 mil range and really needs to put it all together, glove, bat, consistency it all needs to happen if he is going to stay a red after 2009. In my opinion I think this is his last year in a Reds uniform.

  13. Mike

    EE will be gone before the end of the season and certainly before 2010. This year is shaping up as a ‘get by’ season with an attempt at .500 but with this anemic offense it could be over by Memorial Day or at least by early July. Then time to plug the young guys in to SS or 2B, if BP goes to short, and 3B and 1B with Votto to LF. The only positive thing I see in 09 is that Baker will probably be gone. Unfortunetly, no chance that Pete MacKanin comes back.

  14. Josh

    Its absolutely worth locking up the young guys this early. I agree that the pitchers may be early, but its totally worth paying a little more in the arb years to buy out a few years of free agency. With injuries and the risk of not being relavent in a few years, many players would be willing to sign a big contract before they need to for that security.

    Yes, Braun may have taken a “discount” but he hit almost 40 bombs in his rookie year. Votto and Bruce aren’t there yet. Longoria got a decent but not great contract from the Rays but he’s above both of those guys right now, too. I think sign them up by buying out their first two years (at least) of FA and keep them under control.

    If Cueto and Volquez look good this year and their mechanics don’t indicate injury risk you do the same. With the volatility of pitchers, however, you can probably get away with less guaranteed money and more incentive based.

  15. Dan

    Don’t be too quick to flush away HUGE bargains. Also, don’t be too quick to commit to too many years.

  16. Josh

    Dan,

    I get what you’re saying, and I don’t want to throw away huge bargains either. But a contract like what Evan Longoria got (who was neck and neck last year with Jay Bruce for “top prospect”) would be a huge bargain, I think. He’s only getting 17.5 million over 6 years with club options for the years 7 and 8 (maybe even 9). Thinking about what some guys are taking in arbitration combined with how Bruce projects, I don’t see why anyone would be opposed to the Reds doing something like this.

  17. David

    “EE, you don’t sign long term.” Of all the players, E5 is the guy you work out a two year deal with.

    If he mashes in 2009 then 2010 is a bargain. If he is ho-hum, he can be moved, as teams find contract certainty more attractive than arbitration. If he tanks, well, that’s your gamble but I don’t think he tanks.

  18. Steve Price

    Edwin Encarnacion is an average third baseman.

  19. matt klinker

    For personal reason I completely agree with GregD at post #3, but in reality I would like to see all four of these young studs locked in with the Reds.

  20. Matt McWax

    Good one, Matt. The league is never too crowded to fit in a quality starter. The Reds haven’t had a tight 1-5 in quite some time. This year looks hopeful.

  21. Matt McWax

    As for EE, 2 years is a pretty good idea, anything more is unsound. He is rated middle of the pack (15th or so) but there only 5 of those above him that are younger (Zimmerman, Longoria, C. Davis, Miguel Cabrera, Russell Martin). He should put up some of his best career numbers in 09 and 10.

    Since we will most likely have some serious options coming up through the system, do you think there’s any performance level that would make the Reds keep EE longterm? .280/.360/.500 with 30 hr and 90 rbi and sub 15 errors. A pretty tall order but probably as possible as, for example, Juan Francisco doing the same in 3-4 years.