This week’s respondents are Nick Kirby, Chris Garber, Clay Marshall, Ashley Davis, and Steve Mancuso.

Our Daily Reds Obsession: Which current player should the Reds attempt to sign to a long-term contract?

Nick: The first players that came to mind here were Eugenio Suarez and Luis Castillo. I am going to go by the “buy low, sell high” mentality and choose someone else because I think there is a chance that Suarez and Castillo regress *some* in 2018. I will go with Jesse Winker. He has yet to establish himself as a everyday MLB player, but he had a 1.042 OPS vs RHP in 111 plate appearances with the Reds last year. The Reds are expecting a full year of Winker next year, and I don’t think they will ever have another chance to get him for the value they could going into 2018.

Chris: Eugenio Suarez is the obvious candidate, and in this case, the correct one. He seems to have established himself as a 4 win player, and he won’t turn 27 until next July. In short, he’s the kind of guy you want to keep on your team. The next questions are how much and how long? Suarez is set for his first arbitration hearing this winter, so it’s fairly easy to game out how much he’s likely to earn. But these deals don’t have much impact unless you also buy out one or more of the player’s free agent years. Suarez could become a free agent after the 2020 season. If I were Suarez’ agent, I wouldn’t have much problem with him hitting the free agent market at age 30 (after 2021), but I wouldn’t want to go much longer than that.

From the Reds perspective, there’s one more requirement: Any Suarez contract cannot be so large that it kills his trade value. I fully expect Nick Senzel to arrive in Cincinnati by April 2019 (at the very latest). It’s quite possible that Suarez will be a better player than Senzel. But Suarez would still be more expensive and the more appropriate trade bait.

Clay: Considering the luck the Reds have had with Devin Mesoraco and Homer Bailey, the degree to which Brandon Phillips’ extension became an albatross and the amount of ire that Joey Votto’s contract continues to stir in some circles, I’m hesitant to recommend long-term offers to anyone — even deserving candidates like Tucker Barnhart. I will say, though, that Eugenio Suarez looks to have the potential to be a special player for years to come, and I hope those years will see him wearing a Reds uniform.

Ashley: Eugenio Suarez should be the next player that the Reds sign long-term. Yes, Nick Senzel plays third base and is close to being MLB-ready, but GM Dick Williams recently said Senzel will start to play second base in the spring. Suarez has steadily improved each season, culminating in his best season-to-date in 2017, hitting 26 home runs, scoring 87 runs, and recording a 117 wRC+. He’s only 26, and a three or four year contract would ensure his bat is in the lineup during the time frame the Reds are projected to compete again. Suarez also has some experience at shortstop, and while I don’t think it’s a good idea to move him from third, it could be an option if Senzel doesn’t work out at second.

Steve: Assuming we’re talking about contracts that extend years, not just control costs, there aren’t many candidates for this. Tucker Barnhart was a good choice, and he’s signed. The only pitcher in the organization who is enough of a sure thing and isn’t already signed is Luis Castillo. But the Reds control him through 2023, which is Castillo’s age 30 season. I don’t see the rush to lock up a pitcher for his 30s, five years in advance. Scott Schebler is controlled through his age 31 season. Jesse Winker is controlled through his age 30 season, so is Anthony DeSclafani.

That leaves Eugenio Suarez. Suarez is already controlled through the 2020 season at which point he’ll be 29 years old. He’s entering arbitration this year. Signing Suarez to an extension through his age-31 season – so for an extra two years – is about all I would do. Maybe offer 5 years for $42-45 million. But I don’t see that as an urgent, high priority step for the Reds to take. Extensions make more sense for players who hit the major leagues at a younger age and with significant upside. The Reds could definitely have several players in that category – including Nick Senzel – a year or two from now.

23 Responses

  1. Ryan Lykins

    Eugenio Suarez: he’s a lock to be an above average player for the next few years. He’s just entering his prime. With the way his defense and plate approach improved last year it just goes to show he’s a hard worker. I always like a guy that works hard and as a fan you can see the results of that hard work. He’s honestly the only guy on the current team I would be confident in giving a long term contract to.

  2. Sandman

    The first player that popped to my mind will be of no surprise here since everyone of the respondents mentioned him as well…Saurez. But Nick mentioned another player that I hadn’t thought of and that’s Castillo. I would also think about signing Senzel long term.

  3. cupofcoffee1955

    No one at this time. Moving forward I believe the Reds must continue to develop players in the minors and gain some prospects through trades. This is the strategy they need to have to be consistently competitive. I’m not saying never but they have to be smart as the old Chinese Teacher used to say to his pupil, Grasshopper (Kung Fu), “choose wisely.”

  4. bouwills

    The only current player worthy of signing to a (short-term) contract was Zack Cozart. I see no other opportunity to buy as much talent at a sorely needed position than resigning Zack at the QO . Now that Cozart is a FA, it’s more of a risk. He’ll want 3 years & about $40M.

  5. scottya

    Eugenio Suarez needs to be extended if possible. I think he’ll be a 4 war third baseman for a while due to his improved plate discipline, work ethic and age. He’s going into his age 26 season next year, excited to see what he does.

  6. Tom Mitsoff

    I have believed since the latter part of the season that Suarez should be the primary extension target. Looks like Redleg Nation agrees. I would guess that Dick Williams has already reached out to Suarez’s agent and that talks are at some stage.

  7. Mac24

    I like this a lot Patrick. Something I’ve thought about before.

  8. scottya

    I like this trade idea, Duvall for Semien

  9. IndyRedMan

    Semien could possibly be a pretty good offensive player, but he’s kind of a hack defensively. A couple of reasons I’d prefer to deal Schebler > Duvall. One is Duvall is 3x better defensively and two is that they’re so lefty dominant already! You start an outfield of Winker, Billy, and Schebler….along w/Scooter and Tucker and you’re really behind the 8 ball vs lefties! I hope they keep Adam….just bat him 6th and rest him a lot more vs tough righties and late in the season. I don’t get the rush to get rid of Duvall and Scooter? Adam’s ops was .834 on Aug 25. Everyone thinks Suarez is an absolute cornerstone of the franchise and he finished at .828.

    • scottya

      The defensive metrics don’t agree that Semien is poor defensively at SS. zero war to slightly negative. Semien seems like a pretty good fit for what we need. If Semien hits like he normally does he’s about a 2.5 – 3 war player = Duvall, but we have outfield depth and need a SS.

      To me it seems like a perfect fit both ways.

      Trading Duvall and Scooter is about the depth we have at their positions, getting value at their likely peak and we have positions that need better players (namely SS & CF).

      I much prefer keeping Schebler, but might trade him for Semien if that is what the A’s asked for.

  10. PDunc

    Winker seems like a good option for an extension. Based on what we’ve seen from him in the minors and is short time with the Reds, he seems to be a safe bet to be at least an average starter throughout the next 6 years the Reds have him under contract. Assume he would make a minimum salary for 3 years (500-600,000 each year) and maybe 3, 6 and 10 million in his arbitration years. So that is something in the ballpark of $21 million for 6 years. Offer him $20 million for 6 years plus 2 club option years. Winker has financial security, Reds have cost certainty plus the option to buy out a couple of his free agent years.
    This would be something like what the Rays did with Longoria when he first came up.

  11. cfd3000

    I’d but out 1-2 years of Suarez’ free agency. If (when) Dick Williams announces just such a deal I’m confident there will be more positive than negative responses at RLN. I’m hoping Senzel and Winker will play well enough to warrant similar extensions in a couple of years, but it’s too soon to worry about that with either right now. As for that A’s deal it makes a lot of sense. Sadly that tells me that it’s really unlikely the Reds pull off something good there.

  12. IndyRedMan

    Here’s a what-if that could keep them alive towards late Sept atleast imo

    Resign Cozart…preferably 3 or 4 with a buyout. Trade Scooter to the Yankees (plus prospect(s) if needed?) for reliever Tommy Kahnle (62 ip 96Ks 1.12 whip at 99-100 mph). They’ve got so many dominant relievers that they can’t even give them all enough work? Chad Green or Adam Warren would be awesome too! Warren had a 2.35 era last year and .329 as a starter in 2015.

    Move Senzel to 2B and platoon Billy/Ervin in CF with Billy batting always batting 9th. That’s a top 10 team in runs scored with Winker and Senzel full-time regulars. The pen is greatly improved and then sort out with all the starting depth. That’s atleast .500

    • IndyRedMan

      I think he could have 3 good years left? Actually I’d prefer moving Suarez back to short. I just don’t a SS they can find that compare to how Zack looked last year. 62 walks/78 Ks shows a new understanding of the strike zone and I think he could carry that forward!

      • IndyRedMan

        Time will tell? The thing is Peraza is barely mediocre defensively at short and is a weak hitter. They were average (14th) in runs last year, so if they subtract Zack and keep Billy/Peraza in the lineup then you’re setting yourself up to lose again?

    • Michael E

      I am with Jim. I get that Cozart finally became a good hitter. He is past his best years, but we’ll be paying him the most we ever have for another 3 or 4 years? If the Reds payroll were $170 million, I’d be right there with you, but given Cozart’s likely run of DL stints each year, not quite as good fielding (range will be below average), and higher pay, the risk for a medium-low payroll team like the Reds is too great. We will get Bailey and Meso falling off the books soon enough, we don’t need to add more near-dead weight out more years.

  13. Sandman

    Jreis, remove Peraza & Hamilton (not sure about Ervin) and you may have something.

    • Sandman

      Jreis, I just don’t care for weak offensive players. Peraza’s defense isn’t the best either.

  14. The Duke

    5 year $45 million deal for Geno, and make it an even $9 million a year each year of the deal starting now. Gives him more up front, and towards the back end makes him a super valuable trade chip if we’re out or a fantastic bargain if he continues his upward trajectory. Also, spend a little more now while payroll is still lower.

  15. Michael E

    I am with Steve again (this is getting scary). No extensions beyond RFA/arbitration for anyone, save, maybe, one here or there where we get one FA year bought out for reasonable fees. That said, I don’t see a Suarez signing one of these “reasonable” deals if he thinks enough of himself.

    With the numerous “heavy” contracts the Reds did extending or buying out arb/early FA biting them in the hiney too often, I am not really chomping at the bit to lock up a couple of players and then see them stagnate or get injured and be gimping our rebuild for years to come.

    We risk losing a good player or two early, but I’d rather risk that than overpay and find Suarez has already plateaued or we get the multi-DL a year guys extended and regret it.

  16. Michael E

    I have always said, if I am manager, I bat my very best hitter first, though if I have a couple of even hitters, then one with more speed or higher walk rater would be first.

    I would likely have been leading Votto off for the past 6 years. I want my worst hitters (Hamilton, pre-good hitting Cozart, others) hitting at the bottom of the lineup to minimize ABs over the course of a season v my best hitters. Those 30 less PAs for crappy hitters and 30 more PAs for great hitters like Votto, can make a big difference, over the course of the season and late in many games.