For this week’s question, we took a look at which player should be the #1 target for a contract extension. We asked our panel of experts.

Question: Which player, if any, should the Reds make a top priority to sign to an extension?

Jeff Carr: Like saying water is wet, they should focus on Yasiel Puig. He will be a strong presence in the middle of the lineup, for the next two year, at least. In Puig’s career, during the months of March and April, he holds a slugging percentage of .389. Frightfully low number, that. In every other month, he’s slugged .500, exactly. Even his on-base percentage is over .40 points higher outside of March/April.

Puig, after March/April this season, is .286/.347/.542. He has a .330 average with runners in scoring position and has even recorded most of his home runs (10) and RBIs (26) with two outs. Pencil him in for 30 homers a year in Great American Ball Park and lock down right field. If the Reds let him walk they leave a hole in the lineup that isn’t going to be filled in-house. Future value, plus massive void if allowed to leave, equals no-brained extension. #SignPuig

Ashley Davis: At the beginning of the season, I thought the Reds should extend Alex Wood. Now, I think the Reds should extend Yasiel Puig first. He’ll be entering his age 29 season and he’s shown, with his power, he would benefit from playing half his games in a hitter friendly park. He’s one home run shy of his total from a year ago and six shy of his career high in 98 games this season.

Some have questioned whether or not he’s playing like he is because it’s his free agent season and he wants the money. However, there were bigger issues in LA that led to the rumors about his attitude, including a reporter who just didn’t like him. Dodgers players and coaches had many different quotes when Puig was traded, but Clayton Kershaw had the best one: “No matter what antics he may have had, he definitely helped contribute to help us win games.” Puig can help the Reds next season. It’s just a matter of getting the deal done.”

Chad Dotson: Can I say Joey Votto? Okay, even if Joseph Daniel is off the table, there are a number of guys that I think the Reds should explore contract extension talks with. Luis Castillo, Nick Senzel, even Jesse Winker are guys that I want to see stick around Cincinnati for a long time. But if we’re talking “top priority,” there are only two names on that list: Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood. Both are youngish and each fills a specific need for the club: slugging outfielder and lefty starter. If the Reds could sign Puig, it closes one hole the front office will need to fill in the off-season (now go get a catcher and a shortstop and maybe even a second baseman/center fielder).

If I have to pick just one name, I’m tempted to say Wood. He’s interesting because he just made his debut for the club; if the free agent market continues to be the silly season again this winter, Wood may be interested in inking a contract to stay in the Queen City. Add him to the dynamic duo of Castillo and Sonny Gray and the Reds’ rotation starts looking really solid indeed. So that’s who I’m going with, on the assumption that everyone else is going to say Puig. When you zig, I zag.

Bill Lack: Puig. They don’t have a replacement in the system for next year. The free agent market is weak. They have the money to spend. He’s the best bet. I do have a concern that he’s playing this year for a contract and could become a problem, like he was in LA. By his own admission, when he was under contract he admitted he didn’t always play as hard as he could. This is concerning.

But I think he’s the best bet right now. Now if Alex Wood comes out and pitches well the rest of the year….my opinion might change.

Jason Linden: Puig. They currently have Castillo, Gray, Mahle, and Disco controlled next year, plus Sims and Romano. That makes the pitching staff less urgent and there will be plenty of fifth starter options out there if they aren’t able to sign Roark or Wood. However, there are almost not options for good bats. the Reds MUST sign at least one bat that isn’t controlled next year in order to have a reasonable offense. Given his age and history, Puig is easily the best bet. So extended him asap, please.

Tom Mitsoff: Alex Wood, with a big caveat: It has to be to a team-friendly deal, and after he has withstood the test of several effective starts while maintaining his health. The Reds have the potential of a dominant top two of their pitching rotation, and the addition of a third above-average starter would make Cincinnati a team that can win not only any regular season series, but any post-season series. I’ve also been very impressed with Yasiel Puig, and would also re-sign him in an instant to a team-friendly extension. He’s been great defensively, always hustles, and occasionally annihilates the ball while at the plate. But his wRC+ of 101 is way below his career average of 124. If some other team wants to give him $15-million-plus per season, be my guest. Anything below that would make sense for the Reds for two or three more years.


[You can read more of Steve’s writing about the Reds at Reds Content Plus, where he writes with Matt Wilkes, Matt Habel and Nick Carrington. So after you’ve read Redleg Nation, head over to RC+ and see what’s up and leave your comments.]