The Reds and Raisel Iglesias announced a new salary agreement this afternoon in the amount of $24.125 million covering the pitcher’s final three seasons with the Reds. It buys out three years of Iglesias’ arbitration. The contract does NOT add an extra year to his time with the Reds.

Iglesias, who turns 29 before Opening Day, had signed a multi-year deal with the Reds back in June, 2014. It stipulated his salary through the 2020 season. It gave Iglesias the right to choose arbitration once he qualified, which he did this year on the basis of his 3.154 years of major league service time. By the terms of the 2014 deal, Iglesias was scheduled to make $5.7 million in 2019 and 2020. The Reds closer would have certainly requested arbitration this year instead of taking the $5.7 million.

Even though the final season with an agreed upon salary in the 2014 deal was for 2020, Iglesias was still bound by the major league collective bargaining agreement to stay with the Reds through six years of service time. So Iglesias would have remained under Reds team control in the 2021 even without the new contract announced today. Iglesias remains eligible for free agency in 2022, the same as before.

You wonder if the Reds (or Iglesias, for that matter) looked to add years. Maybe both sides were content with this duration.

That question aside, what should we make of the deal?

It provides the Reds a degree of budget certainty with Iglesias. If the pitcher stays healthy and productive the next two seasons, the deal probably costs the Reds less money than they would have paid in three separate years of arbitration. Players give up money for certainty at this stage of their careers.

It gives Iglesias more economic security. In the 2014 agreement, he was only guaranteed $10 million more. If he had suffered a shoulder injury or become unproductive, Iglesias could have become a non-tender candidate in 2021 or sooner under the arbitration system. The new deal means Iglesias is now guaranteed $24 million over the next three years regardless of how healthy or productive he stays.

This intersection of interests is why deals like this are relatively easy to do. But neither of those outcomes matter much to the Reds on the field or to the team’s fans. What is important is whether the deal makes the Reds more or less likely to trade Raisel Iglesias.

If the Reds become less interested in trading Iglesias, Reds fans should look on the deal as a profound negative. Once the Reds decided Iglesias’ shoulder prevented his return to the starting rotation, and Iglesias proved he was a capable closer, the team should have been looking to trade him. I made a detailed case for that last May.

Iglesias’ new contract doesn’t fundamentally change that calculus. Although if the deal makes Iglesias a little more attractive to the Reds, it would make the pitcher more appealing to trade partners for the same reasons.

But here’s what is meaningful that has changed: the manager, the pitching coach and the math.

Yes, the Reds should still be looking to make Iglesias the cornerstone of a trade to return an impact starting pitcher. But the rapidly shifting strategic currents in major league baseball are narrowing the value gap between starters and relievers. Depending, that is, on how those pitchers are used.

Manager David Bell and pitching coach Derek Johnson may see Raisel Iglesias as an irreplaceable piece of the puzzle. Iglesias is a perfect fit for the kind of pitcher who throws more than one inning, facing the opposing lineup once, whether at the start, middle or end of a close game. Bryan Price and Jim Riggleman often talked about using Iglesias in new ways, but didn’t follow through. Maybe the new dugout brain trust will.

President of Baseball Operations, Dick Williams hinted at that today when he said this about the new deal: “David and Derek will spend time with Raisel over the winter. This is a guy who loves to pitch. He loves to appear frequently. He loves to appear in multiple innings if possible. He enjoys the back of the game. But he enjoyed starting. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with. The more we see an elite arm like this, the better off we are as a team.”

Bottom line: You trade the Raisel Iglesias who pitches 68 innings in a traditional closer role. But you might want to hold on to the Raisel Iglesias who pitches 90-100 high-leverage innings. That’s a much closer call. $8 million a year isn’t nothing, even if he throws 100 innings. It’s hard to say yet how much value the one-time-through pitchers can provide and how difficult those guys will be to find.

Whether Bell and Johnson can flip Iglesias’ calculus remains to be seen. The Milwaukee Brewers, where Derek Johnson worked prior to his new gig, were at the forefront of new tactics in deploying pitchers. Even they still used a closer.

To be sure, major league front offices are operating in a new strategic world. But the Reds must continue to take seriously the idea that Raisel Iglesias might offer the most value to the team in a trade, new contract included.

19 Responses

  1. Scott C

    Perhaps he’ll be the Reds Hader

  2. Redsman

    Hmmmm, this is verrry interesting. We have a PC who was familiar with some of the ‘new metrics’ in the pitching world. Could we see Iggy become a 1 or 2 inning starter as part of a bullpen day? Part of a closer committee? Or have the Reds actually come out of the ‘Dark Ages’ and come up with something so innovative we haven’t even thought of it yet!

    The man could certainly be highly valuable…either as a trade piece or something else. Can’t wait to see what happens! Especially if he is still around by the start of Spring Training!

  3. Jeff Reed

    I like the idea of using Iglesias in multiple innings and not only at the end of the game.

  4. Streamer88

    One consideration to support the out of the box intentions:

    Arb payouts for relievers are still based on antiquated stats like saves. So why did the Reds do this deal when it adds no additional years? Well, maybe their rationale is that we plan to use Iglesias in ways that will devalue him at arb hearings, and to be fair to the player, and get him to buy into the strategy, they needed to eliminate an arb panel determining his value.

    Now that Iggy is paid, Bell is free to deploy him without concern for the players well being. This prevents a disgruntled player, and really opens the table for Bell and Johnson to experiment.

  5. kmartin

    Boston could lose Kimbrel. How about Iglesias for Benintendi he says unrealistically.

  6. kmartin

    Back in the late 70s to mid 80s there was an outstanding relief pitcher by the name of Bruce Sutter. He pitched 100 or more innings five times including 122.2 innings in 1984. Maybe with the success of Hader we will see outstanding relief pitchers start to get 100 or more innings.

  7. Streamer88

    Would be unfair to now make him a starter with a 5.1 inning limit?

    I’m not necessarily advocating for this. 30 starts x 5 innings Vs 50 appearances at 2.5 innings is about the same.

  8. Mike

    agreed .. I like the potential of 6 years of Trammell add/or Senzel better than the next 4+ years of Andrew Benintendi anyway ..

  9. bouwills

    Ok, so how much more would it take to get a 3 year deal with Scooter? $ 8-10 M more?

    • Sabr Chris

      We’d be lucky if he took 3 years at 45 mill

      • bouwills

        I’d say 3 years $12M per is about the Reds upper limit. They may throw in $2M for a buyout of $15M for that 4th year. Any more than that & the Reds should trade him next July or let him walk after 2019 season.

  10. Satchmo

    Bell / Johnson: Raisel, we want to transition you to the starting rotation.

    Iglesias: What if I hurt me shoulder and destroy my arbitration value?

    Bell / Johnson: Well, take a look at this contract….

    1. Castillo
    2. Iglesias
    3. FA / Trade pitcher
    4. Sorensen
    5. Mahle / Disco

    • Tom Mitsoff

      To me, the apparent thought process of preparing Iglesias (financially) to appear in non-statistically-significant situations (saves) is another sign of some progressive thinking by the organization. If he becomes a true Hader-type in terms of effectiveness, his trade value will be even greater if we get to mid-season and the team is still in the pits (hopefully not).

  11. Still a Red

    Interesting. Small 8th inning sample tho. Also, don’t know if when he comes in in the 8th if he also pitches 9th (in which case maybe he paces himsel). Maybe, since the 8th comes first, maybe he didn’t get enuff warm up OR, he more often faces the lower part of the lineup in the 9th OR when he comes in in the 8th, there are runners on base.

  12. Bill j

    Tom what bothers me is if we get to mid-seaspn Iggy is in the pits and doesn’t come out. I’m afraid they will do as they did with Chapman Fraizer and Bruce and wait to late to make a deal.

  13. roger garrett

    Its just hard to teach an old dog new tricks.As long as WJ is still around he will have influence from the owner on down.The board room is still the same with the same people still calling the shots.Replacing them all doesn’t insure success but keeping them hasn’t done it either.

  14. James

    It seems like the cost impact certainty could also be helpful as they consider free agents and trades this winter.

  15. Tom Mitsoff

    I don’t think they signed Iglesias to turn around and trade him. The last time that happened with a Reds closer was when Jeff Shaw signed a contract extension in the 1997-98 off-season, and Jim Bowden traded him to the Dodgers prior to the 1998 All-Star break for Paul Konerko and Dennys Reyes. (Konerko, who went on to hit 428 of his 431 major league homers for teams other than Cincinnati, was then traded to the White Sox for Mike Cameron.)

    If the front office is open to any and all means to improve the team, then there are certainly scenarios in which an Iglesias trade could improve the team in other areas of greater need. I’m taking Dick Williams at his word, which was that the signing made Iglesias’ salary for the next three years fixed and not a variable based on statistics such as saves. I love the concept that he could be the Reds’ version of Josh Hader.

    Interestingly, Hader pitched only 81.1 innings this past season over 55 appearances — not including post-season. I thought it would have been more. Iglesias: 72 innings in 66 appearances. Hader recorded about one more out per appearance than Iglesias.