This morning, Reds brass addressed two questions about Nick Senzel. Manager David Bell was asked for his first impression of Senzel in centerfield. Bell said it’s “more than possible” Senzel could work out. Bell said it would take a lot of work, but he liked Senzel’s athleticism. (reported by Bobby Nightengale)

That’s encouraging. If Senzel can play capable-to-good CF, it’s an easy ticket to get his bat in the lineup.

Dick Williams was asked about Senzel and service time considerations. “I anticipate putting the best team out there that we can [on Opening Day]”, Williams said. The Reds President of Baseball Operations elaborated that he wants the team to get off to a good start. (reported by John Fay)

Senzel’s debut may become an issue that divides Reds fans, although it shouldn’t.

What’s At Stake

Here’s what’s at stake.

“As determined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed by owners and the players union (MLBPA) in 2016, the team owns the right to a player until that player accrues six full years of MLB service time, assuming the club offers a contract each year. After that, the player earns the right to free agency.

Service time is the number of years and days a player spends on the 25-man roster of a major league team or major league disabled list during the regular season. Example: If a player gets called up for a game on July 1 and sent back down to the minors after the game on July 8, the player has earned eight days of MLB service time. The unit counted is calendar days, not games played. The player doesn’t have to get on the field and off-days count as service time as well. The clock stops when the player is sent back down.”

The CBA stipulates a year of service time means 172 days. Further, a player cannot accrue more than 172 days of service time in any single season. There is no rounding up. If a player has 5 years and 171 days of service time (often expressed as 5.171) at the end of a season, tough luck. He has to play for the team the entire next season, if he’s offered a contract. Those are the rules.

As of right now, Nick Senzel has no major league service time.

If the Reds assign Senzel to the 2019 Opening Day roster, and he remains there the entire season, meaning no demotion back to AAA, he’ll accrue a full year of service time. If Senzel stays on track in the major leagues, he will be under the Reds control through the 2024 season, playing six seasons for the Reds. Assuming no contract extension (more on that in a minute), he would become a free agent in 2025.

But they can handle Senzel’s debut slightly differently and gain an entire extra season of his services.

The Kris Bryant Parallel

What many teams do with obvious superstar players like Senzel, is hold them back in the minor leagues for a couple weeks so they can’t quite accrue 172 days in their first year. This essentially gives the team a seventh full season of the player’s service.

This is exactly what the Chicago Cubs did with third baseman Kris Bryant in 2015. Coming into that season, Bryant was the first, second, and fifth-best prospect as ranked by Baseball America,, and Baseball Prospectus. Opening Day was April 5, but the Cubs delayed Bryant’s debut until April 17. That meant Bryant earned exactly 171 days of service time in 2015 and now he can’t become a free agent until the 2022 season.

Bryant missed the Cubs first eight games (including 3 against the Reds) and they went 5-3. The Cubs went 97-65 and finished third in the NL Central. Kris Bryant won the NL Rookie of the Year. The Cubs beat the Pirates in the play-in game, beat the NL Central champion Cardinals in the NLDS and lost to the New York Mets in the NLCS. If the Cubs had called Bryant up one day earlier, he’d be a free agent for the 2021 season. His service time currently stands at 3.171.

The Reds face a similar decision with Nick Senzel, who turns 24 on June 29.

The last day of the regular season is September 29. That means a player called up on April 12 would be able to earn only 171 service time days. If the Reds delayed Senzel’s debut until April 13 (April 12 is an off-day), he would miss the first 13 games.

The Reds would be crazy if they don’t do exactly that.

This Is About Baseball, Not Money

There is a separate debut-related issue that is often confused with this one. It’s about a player’s arbitration clock and Super Two status. In that case, a team that delays a player’s debut until late May or early June can assure the player won’t qualify for Super Two status which would allow him to have four years of arbitration instead of three. That’s entirely about money.

Holding players like Nick Senzel back for two weeks is not about money. It’s about baseball and math. 162 > 13.

13 games of Nick Senzel is a lot less valuable than 162 games of Nick Senzel, both to the team and fans.

It’s possible the issue could become moot if the Reds and Senzel reach an extension agreement. By that time, baseball will have a new CBA and the relevant rules might be different. But there’s a decent chance that Nick Senzel, who has Scott Boras as an agent, might not want to sign an extension that would tie him up beyond his age-30 season. With teams showing an increasing unwillingness to pay players much beyond age 32, that could come into play. With the Reds having control over Senzel’s age-30 season, he might be more likely to sign an extension.

Assuming players stay healthy, Senzel’s brief absence would allow Matt Kemp and Scott Schebler more playing time the first two weeks. That’s not a huge drop-off. Nine of those 13 games are at home. Schebler and Yasiel Puig could manage GABP’s comfy centerfield. The four away games are in Pittsburgh. PNC park has a larger left-centerfield, but straight-away center is five feet shorter than it is at GABP.

Seeing the Big Picture

Of course, everyone wants to see the Reds get off to a good start. It’s natural for some fans to call for Senzel to come north with the team. His appearance in the lineup batting second between Jesse Winker and Joey Votto would add tremendous excitement to Opening Day.

But fans should also want to see Nick Senzel play 149 more games for the Reds, all things equal, including Opening Day 2025.

Just because Dick Williams answered a question in a certain vague way on Feb. 14 doesn’t mean that’s what the club will eventually do. Seriously, how else would we expect him to address that now? Tissue paper-thin pretext can come later. But the Reds front office can’t let bravado inspired by the nice offseason cause them to lose sight of the bigger picture.

Complain all you want about the rule. It’s unfair to the player and fans. It’s a little bit anti-competitive. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they change it in the next CBA. But it’s black letter law that covers Nick Senzel this spring and the Reds should take advantage of it.

Remember when Mike Leake started his first game on a sunny April 11, 2010? I do, I was there. If the club had delayed Leake’s debut to April 16 (one lousy start), Mike Leake would have remained under Reds control an entire extra season. 1 start vs. 32 starts.

This is easy. Let Nick Senzel log two weeks of games in his new position at Louisville. Call him up to start April 13 for the 2-game series against the stupid St. Louis Cardinals and don’t look back.

69 Responses

  1. matthew hendley

    beyond a shadow of a doubt, Nick Senzel will be a quality Major leaguer. I am sure he will spend the 2 weeks or so in Louisville, “working on his defense” with quality. Absolutely send him down. Play the Service time game. But the reds need to bite the super two bullet and not wait till he is not a super two. Pay the extra money there.

    • VaRedsFan

      I hope you’re right, but there is quite a bit more than a shadow of a doubt. And the Reds have sacrificed the possible acquisitions of quite a bit of known talent (Yelich, Kluber, JTR) over the last 2 years, in order to hold on to Senzel. So he better be more than a quality major leaguer.

      • matthew hendley

        The brewers did not have to give up the equivalent for Yelich, Kluber never was traded, and the Phillies overpaid on JTR. Some people on this site have real problems understanding what the long game is

      • VaRedsFan

        The Brewers gave up their top Prospect Brinson (#13) overall to get Yelich (MVP if you aren’t keeping up). The Reds could have easily topped that offer. Kluber (Cy young x2) could have come to the Reds if they offered more. Maybe you’re hoping another one-time uber-prospect Robert Stephenson will turn the corner…since you are playing the long game. Most of the experts (not named MH), have said the Phillies have clearly won the trade for JTR. But that’s your OPINION and you are entitled to it. Waiting and waiting for a prospect to arrive, and knock it out the park, will keep your hands tied for season after season. And this prospect that we are talking about has had 2 cases of vertigo, and season ending finger surgery

      • matthew hendley

        Robert Stephenson was never a uber-prospect. Ever, and for the record I have been on the trade him wagon for a year. There is a difference from a ML ready, position blocked (until his ‘defense is ready’) Prospect and an individual that wasn’t ready.
        I don’t know, in this age where we are not ‘paying players for what they did’ would we empty the farm on a rapidly ageing pitcher who is one torn ligament away from being a sunk cost.
        The Philles did not win that trade. No competent (and neutral) expert can say that with a straight face.

      • Jimbo

        Umm…the Phillies absolutely won that deal

  2. Phil

    I generally agree with the premise here. 162 games in 2025 is more valuable than 13 games this season. I wonder if the NL Central, and how tight the standings are projected to be makes any difference though.
    IF you think that having Senzel on the roster for those first 13 games would get you 1 more win, and IF you think it possible that 1 win would be the difference of making the playoffs or not would that change your mind?

  3. Jeff Gangloff

    Agree with everything said.

    How much do you think an extension could factor in to this? I know its early, but if the Reds plan on extending him regardless, then the point to sit him the first couple weeks of the season could be moot…unless you care about maybe missing out on millions of dollars where the extension would overlap the extra year of service time gained…which I don’t…because it’s not my money.

    • Streamer88

      I’d argue the opposite. If you are planning on a Longoria like early extension, it’s even more important to hold him until Apr 13. It’ll drive down Senzels asking price because it’ll include 1 less FA year on the back end.

      • doofus

        “…drive down his asking price..” Really, his agent is Scott Boras.

    • Colorado Red

      Have to agree.
      I would do it before he was sent down, that way it would make no difference to the money he earns.

    • ohiojimw

      The scuttlebutt is that young players are somewhat amenable to extensions about now because folks are uncertain and nervous about the next CBA and the runup to it.

      The feeling seems to be that a long term contract for $??M over a long term is better than risking the unknown of the next CBA.

      Player access to more money may come more quickly. The entire service time model could change. But in turn the owners will get something too which could end up yielding less over the same period of time than if a guy signed now through arbitration.

  4. AllTheHype

    Here’s another tidbit of the Mike Leake service time situation. On May 14, 2011 (Leake’s 2nd year), the Reds sent him down to Louisville for 13 days. MLB rules stipulate that optionable assignments less than 20 days still count as MLB service time. If instead the Reds had recalled him 7 days later than they did, they would have extended their control of Leake by one additional year.

    The same could apply to Senzel. If he starts the year with Red but underperforms at any point, the Reds can send him down for a period of 20 days or more midseason to work on it and gain the extra year. This could happen any year where he still has an option remaining.

  5. Warren Brown

    Thanks for the article, Reds should play the long game and have Senzel start the season in Louisville. The moves made this season have improved the ballclub, generated off season enthusiasm but have not been a win at all cost attitude for 2019.

  6. Ghettotrout1

    I agree one hundred percent with this. 162> 13 pretty much says it all.

  7. Russ

    Except the next agreement will change these rules and all this could do is make him want to leave the team ASAP

    • Kyle Farmer

      With Boras as his agent, that’s a given no matter if he’s on the Opening Day roster or not.

  8. WVRedlegs

    The dynamics of this Senzel situation are interesting going forward.
    I don’t fault the writers for asking. But I can’t believe Bell answers that the way he knowing it would be of note in the press. He probably should have said “Hey we just got here, ask me that in a few weeks.”
    Williams gave a politician answer. Doesn’t really answer the question and is non-committal in the process. It would seem Bell inadvertently threw a small hot potato in Williams lap. No harm, no foul.

  9. scotly50

    It is all about money. If the Reds were to pay Senzel appropriately over the first six years of his service time the point would be mute, as the author implies. But that is not the case in reality. If Senzel lives up to his projections then the extra year will cost Senzel a load of cash he would have received as a free agent. It benefits the team, not the players. Baseball is broken, and with the owners openly engaged in collusion with regard to free agency will eventually implode. I like where the players are starting to speak up about the owners actions.

    • IndyRedsFan

      I disagree with this. I don’t believe holding Senzel back will cost him money in 2025, only the chance to decide he wants to play somehwhere else.

      The players are getting their money in arbitration. Betts just got 20 million for his SECOND arbitration year.

  10. old-school

    It would seem somewhat reasonable to take a rookie who has never played in the big leagues and is also learning a new position and the big league club has a surplus of outfielders- to postpone his promotion to give him every day at bats and every inning in CF for a few weeks. Its not outlandish to stay in Arizona another week to play in some minor league games every day. Its not outlandish to start with Louisville to play CF every day the first 7 games of the year on the road.

    Question- Odd schedule this year. The Reds are off on a Friday- with a long road trip out West starting in Monterrey Mexico on Saturday April 13. The Bats play their home Opener on Thursday April 11 while the Reds have a 1235 start that day.

    If Senzel played in Columbus Wednesday night the 10th, then came to Cincinnati the 11th and traveled with the Reds to Mexico presumably on the night of the 11th and practiced on the 12th in Mexico, but wasn’t activated until the 13th, would that satisfy the days? Service time days mean on the 25 man roster and not physically with the club or traveling or practicing with the club? The unique scheduling and travel day to Mexico means Senzel would only play 7 games in AAA.

    • LWBlogger2

      Wow, that’s a great catch old-school!

  11. Shchi Cossack

    Two points…

    Anticipating an opportunity to option Senzel bake to AAA ‘to get his head straight’ when he exhibits a slump during the 2019 season is a fool’s play. With pitchers, especially starting pitchers, that is usually a solid gamble, but with position players of Senzel’s capability and track record, not so much. Once Senzel is added to the -man roster, there will be no looking back. If the Reds are going to gain two weeks of MLB service time, it must be during the first two weeks of the season.

    It really isn’t about the money, unless the Reds opt to play the super-2 game. If anyone has been following the recent arbitration awards for star position players going through their final and next-to-final arbitration season, they would recognize that those awards are matching or nearly matching FA salaries for star players. The Reds will not save any money on Senzel’s contract and Senzel won’t lose any money on his contract. The only difference is the Reds will have one additional season of team control at a FA value and Senzel will have one additional year before he can lock up a long-term FA contract. What Senzel would really lose or risk is something happening in that final season to jeopardize his long-term FA contract, but that’s what contract extensions during arbitration control are all about.

  12. Peter

    If a player were to be injured mid-season, could he be demoted (removed from the 25-man roster) and THEN placed on the DL in order to prevent MLB service time from accruing? Would that be some sort of collusion?

    • ohiojimw

      The risk is if a team is planning on sending a guy down “later” and he comes up with a long term injury, he goes on the MLB injured list and gets MLB service time and tomorrow never comes.

  13. JB WV

    Playing devil’s advocate, the next collective bargaining agreement may make this whole discussion moot. I feel the players union is going to try and adjust the whole service time issue.

    • Colorado Red

      Think you are correct.
      The next CBA is going to change this, and the union will try to make it retroactive.

    • Shchi Cossack

      The problem in changing the existing methodology is that a lot of very intelligent people have been trying to come up with a valid alternative for a long time and a valid alternative has yet to be forthcoming.

      • WVRedlegs

        Hitting us with some home town truth.

      • Old-school

        The players union is first and foremost advancing a system that rewards veterans. That’s not reality. 80% of WAR in MLB was accomplished by players 30 and under. There in lies the rub. The owners and teams have moved on to this reality. No more 5 year 100 million contracts to 33 year olds based on what they did at 26.The players union isn’t focused on how to reward Nick Senzel or Andrew Benintendi.

        They want more money going to veterans over 30 who have ” paid there dues”. This isn’t going away because the players union is disproportionately represented by old guys who are digging in for that last contract at 33. The same motivation galvanized the PED epidemic in the 1990’s.

      • ohiojimw

        North American hockey (NHL) uses a similar number of players on their active top roster and has a development system with levels which has some parallels with baseball.

        A restricted free agency model works well for them. They actually have arbitration as a mutually agreed upon option available during the RFA years; but it seldom gets used.

        There doesn’t seem to be a lot of poaching of RFA’s or even many formal offer sheets (which the current team can match); but the threat of them forces the teams to make legitimate offers based more on value than service time.

    • BK

      This issue was known prior to the last CBA and no change was made.

  14. Shchi Cossack

    Brice Harper achieved FA after 6 years & 159 days of MLB service time. Manny Machado achieved FA after six years & 59 days for MLB service time (avoiding super-2 status). Nolan Arenado is on track to achieve FA after 6 years & 155 of MLB service time. I don’t recall anyone crying foul about those premier player’s service time.

  15. Sliotar

    I am surprised at the number of “CBA likely to change” in the comments.

    Why allow a (very) hypothetical thing in 2021 (or 2022) affect a sound business decision available today…..getting the extra year of control?

    The MLB players’ only real leverage is to plan to strike and sit out a year, maybe more.

    Otherwise, the owners will throw them a bone or two and continue to grind away at the players (rightful) share of the pie.

    Donald Fehr (remember him?) has the hockey players preparing for a strike/lockout in 2020.

    “Interesting to note that Zaitsev’s 7 year extension with the #Leafs does not include a signing bonus in 2020-21, a potential lockout season.”

    Many NHL contracts signed recently have been getting guys their money sooner, preparing for Hockey Nuclear Winter.

    In contrast, how does MLBPA’s Tony Clark still have his job? Asleep at the wheel.

    • Jay

      Why let the hypothetical “his agent won’t allow him to sign an extension” lead you to make a decision that shows every single one of your players that earning a job comes secondary to the ability to “control” your career. You think Senzel will be more willing to sign a deal later if you play games with his career now? The long view has 2 sides to it.

      • sixpack2

        A player holding a grudge over a team making a business decision within the rules would be vindictive in nature. Those kind of people in life are not very successful. The rules allow arbitration for salaries and I think most players understand if they play well they will get paid.

      • Kyle Farmer

        Because it’s not hypothetical with Boras. It’s the way he does business.

  16. Sliotar

    This is also a timely reminder that only Tampa Bay voted against the current CBA, and the one before that was ratified by a 30-0 vote.

    When “Doc” or anyone else writing about the Reds writes, “The Reds lead owner is frustrated by the MLB system.”…. the writer is being naive or outright shilling for the owner.

    Real change in MLB will come if the small budget owners….Cincinnati, Cleveland, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee … demand a level-playing field, an equal chance to win every season.

    If the NFL can give Indianapolis and Green Bay chances at the Super Bowl as easily as Dallas and New York, no reason MLB can’t as well. If the owners all want that.

  17. Skid Marks

    Is it time for a Doug Gray all things answered Q & A??

  18. Joey

    I’m torn on this. I understand what it could mean for having him an extra year later on when he might be in his prime but at the same time the best players should be playing and after the garbage we have endured for a long time minus a few years of contention sandwiched in between it is time for the Reds brass to put forth a good team. By all accounts the guy should have been on the big league roster last year and wasn’t. If he is one of the best eight position players out of spring training play him if not then send him down to develop until someone gets hurt, traded, or Senzel reaches the next level. The Reds new front office seems competent enough to make solid trades and signings. This could enable them to possibly resign him or give him an extension like others have mentioned or heaven forbid he becomes Meseraco 2.0 and we get a couple good years out of him before injuries take over. Regardless of what happens it’s an exciting time to be a Reds fan.

  19. jreis

    I would be curious to see what Eric Davis thinks about this. I know he has been working with Nick in getting prepared for cf. I am sure by now he knows if he is a natural or if it will be a work in progress. If Eric thinks he is the future cf of the franchise I say start him in center at the beginning of the season and hit the ground running in 2019. if not , yes I think it makes sense for him to start in Louisville to get the extra year of service.

    • JB WV

      Billy Hamilton: great athlete, poor hitter, went from an infielder to an elite centerfielder in about 5 minutes. Nick Senzel: great athlete, solid if not terrific hitter, went from an infielder to centerfielder in…

  20. Thomas Jefferson

    In the past I have been solidly of this same thinking (hold player X in AAA for two weeks to gain an extra year of control). Over the last year I have been shifting my sense of the whole thing.

    CBA: First of all, I agree that it is highly likely to get changed in the next CBA. While comments above noting a lack of realistic alternative being proposed are correct, there is time for this to keep evolving. With the quickly rising discontent in the player ranks, some significant pieces of the equation will surely shift in the next CBA – we just don’t know what they will be. In any case, the odds that a piece shifts and makes this 11 day hold back in AAA moot seem very strong. For example, if the players merely insist that FA occur at 5.121 (3/4 of a 6th season instead of a full 6th season), this status with Senzel (and other rookies) will be rendered pointless. Sure, some teams would hold a player in AAA for a quarter of the season in the future, but that is much more significant in terms of a player missing meaningful games.

    Team Culture: The Reds new leadership has worked hard to change the culture of the team, making it clear that (among other things) the Reds will look to improve and be the best in every single area of the organization. Culture in any organization is established mostly by a handful of difficult decisions that demonstrate to all in it what the real values of the group will be. This could be one such moment – to demonstrate to players that all will row in the same direction of putting the best team on the field and not letting an obvious team advantage be leveraged at the expense of a player while demonstrating to all personnel – from scouts to coaches – that this organization is serious about winning, as well as being willing to be different from other organizations.
    I am not sure if these points will win the day when the decision gets made, but putting Nick Senzel on the opening day roster could be used to establish a winning culture that helps the team more – especially in this critical time of new regime, fresh start – than one more potential year of his services.

    • matthew hendley

      Did you just say “winning culture?” isn’t that like positive momentum

  21. Amarillo

    I really don’t want Senzel to hold a grudge. By all accounts Kris Bryant is still angry about it and has stated that he will not be signing an extension in Chicago. 2025 is still 6 years away, that’s a fairly long time. If he earns the opening day spot, don’t leave him down. We can figure out 2026 later.

    • Kyle Farmer

      If he’s represented by Boras, Senzel isn’t signing an extension whether he’s happy or not.

      • Doug Gray

        Except this isn’t true. Several Boras clients have signed extensions before hitting free agency.

      • Gonzo Reds

        But Doug how many examples of Boras clients signing an extension with small market teams are there?

        I think it’s a no brainer to go without Senzel for two weeks. Besides, assuming they are all healthy coming out of spring training, we’ve got 4 experienced OF on the roster anyway, 2 of which can play at least average CF and probably all 4 would initially hit more than Senzel.

      • Doug Gray

        How many examples of ANY specific agent signing an extension are there? People jump on the Boras thing because he’s the only agent they know. Most players don’t actually sign those deals. It doesn’t matter who their agent is.

  22. Vin

    At end of spring training watch the reds say “Senzel’s bat Is ready for majors but we would like him to get more work in CF so he will get that in Louisville.”
    2 weeks later he will be in CF at GABP.

  23. Tom

    I think a better CBA would be to set a WAR-like standard and pay structure.

    That means all players under team control would be paid a replacement-level base salary. Then, base on their WAR in the bonus periods (I’d actually suggest weekly but monthly would work), they are bonused on escalating levels of performance. So, a 1 WAR player might make $1m a year. A 5 WAR player might make $25m. The player can be released anytime in the first 6 years of team control. However, after 6 years both the team and the player have some options.

    – The player can elect for traditional FA and roll the dice to a massive contract (maybe only wise for someone like Votto).

    – The player and team can agree to a 3 year extension (and year to year after they) for the player under the WAR bonus structure. The 3 years would be paid at WAR average bonus even if the player is released. One in year to year, the team may cut the player by paying the remainder of the current year and one extra year of WAR average bonus. This rewards the games best players and provides them some security to keep playing.

    – 10-15 day disable list Injuries are paid at WAR average bonus. 60 day DL are paid at 20% reduced rate. Above that is paid at replacement level base salary.

    – The WAR bonuses are arrived at by a revenue / earnings formula that ensures that salaries are tied directly to the financial performance of the MLB.

    The group that would object to this most is the agents because contract negotiations would become far less important.


    • Doug Gray

      Here’s the problem with that: There’s not a salary cap or floor, and not enough revenue sharing. If a small market team somehow put together a super team by good drafting/trades/whatever, there’s no guarantee that the team could make payroll. The owners would never agree to such a system.

      Let’s also note that right now, 1 WAR is being paid about $9-10M in free agency. So the players aren’t going to agree to 1 WAR/ $1M and 5 WAR/$25M.

      • Kyle

        1 WAR players aren’t signing remotely close to 9-10M. Granderson was a 1 WAR player and signed a minor league deal.

      • Steve Mancuso

        It’s not based on past WAR, it’s based on projected WAR. Granderson is projected to produce negative WAR on offense and defense this year. The number is an average based on all the signed free agent contracts, not an iron law for every player.

      • LWBlogger2

        From the player perspective, it also makes it really hard to budget.

  24. The Duke

    The only thing I disagree with is that with Nick Senzel in the lineup you don’t hit him in between Winker and Votto. Have Senzel lead off and utilize his speed. With Winker in front of him, his speed is negated on the basepaths. Winker and Votto also both hit lefties better than most LH batters, so i’m not that worried about having them stacked 2-3. Once the service time is manipulated sufficiently:

    1. Senzel, CF
    2. Winker, LF
    3. Votto, 1B
    4. Suarez, 3B
    5. Gennett, 2B
    6. Puig, RF
    7. Peraza, SS
    8. Barnhart, C

  25. WVRedlegs

    Are the Reds very quietly looking into the possibility of signing Craig Kimbrel?? Kimbrel seems to want to set some sort of record with his signing. Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jensen have the high water marks for years and dollars at 1 and 2. Kimbrel doesn’t look to get something like that long of a term.
    Wade Davis set the mark for AAV for a reliever with Colorado at 3 years and $52MM, AAV = $17.333MM. Kimbrel is just coming off an extension he signed with Atlanta prior to the 2014 season, 5 years / $54MM.
    Could the Reds go in at 3 years and $55MM to $57MM to sign Kimbrel? Kimbrel gets his record and the Reds only on the hook for 3 years. It’s affordable, but could it be do-able?? That’s a lot of money for a co-closer. But it would be one heck of a bullpen. That top-of-the-rotation starter is much less of a need for a team with this kind of offense, and then that kind of shut-down bullpen. The Reds bullpen looks good now, but it could look really great with the addition of an on-top-of-his-game Kimbrel.

  26. KDJ

    We did that last year, and he ended up on the DL and couldn’t make the jump. Of course, that doesn’t mean it will happen again. Another option . . . keep him in the minors for 3 more years so that he is under team control until he is 33. Then it will be less likely other teams will want to invest and the Reds can keep him longer. No, I am not serious about option 2.

  27. vegastypo

    There is no doubt that this is the best business approach. If Senzel turns out to be the quality of player we hope he will be, he’ll still get paid. And if the Reds really want to extend him, they’ll find a way. Players like security, as well as money. If Senzel is so angered by two weeks in AAA to start the season that he won’t listen to extension talk, so be it.

    Boras clients do sometimes sign extensions, by the way, if that’s what the player really wants. Over Boras’ objections, apparently, Jered Weaver gave the Angels a nice hometown discount on an extension many years ago, and Stephen Strasburg comes to mind as well, and I’m sure there have been others.

    • Doug Gray

      Jose Altuve signed an extension before free agency. Boras guy. Elvis Andrus signed an extension before free agency. Boras guy.

  28. Steve Mancuso

    Is there someone here who really believes that if the Reds offered Nick Senzel an extension deal that **otherwise satisfies his needs** that he’ll turn it down because of the service time stuff? That’s some grudge.

    • Doug Gray

      As someone who holds grudges, yeah, I think that there are people out there who absolutely would do such a thing and go somewhere else.

      • Steve Mancuso

        I’m sure there are people who would hold a grudge for 6 years. But think of all the adversity someone has to overcome to reach the 1% of the 1% of a profession. Not sure holding a long grudge is a match with the personality type that makes someone an elite athletic prospect. Especially when that person is paid $40 million by an organization over 7-8 years. Again, it’s hard to imagine a person turning down a contract they otherwise thought was in their interest (also involving tens of millions of dollars) over a 6-year grudge. Seems like bad soap opera writing to attribute that weakness (with no evidence) to a specific person.

      • Doug Gray

        It’s certainly possible you are right. But I also know that some people, myself included, are a bit crazy about things like that. When someone does something purposefully like that to me, I’m not forgetting it.

  29. Steve Mancuso

    If I was on a team, I’d want to think my organization was smart and dedicated to optimizing winning. Ball players understand that an entire season is more important to that goal than a handful of games. I’m not sure the “signal” it sends to make a dumb, feel-good decision.

  30. Steve Mancuso

    There’s an urban legend about Kris Bryant, stoked mainly by Cubs fans who were mad at the 8 game delay in Bryant’s debut, that Bryant would hold a grudge. The Cubs and Bryant are currently in negotiations about an extension. Reports had the number at around $200 million. You can search long and hard in articles that talk about the negotiations and you won’t find anything about the “grudge” from a few years ago. Again, if a $250 million contract makes you happy, you won’t turn it down over a past issue. You might ask for more money because of it, but you won’t rule out the deal on principle. That’s fan fantasy.