The Cincinnati Reds are a team that’s full of players who haven’t reached free agency yet. Many fans and even some in the media have suggested that the team explore extensions on some players. Tim Britton of The Athletic looked around Major League Baseball for contract extension candidates and he saw a potential chance for two Cincinnati players – Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson.

Both players are entering their third full season with the Reds. India was the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year, but in 2022 his offensive output declined as he battled through injuries. For Tyler Stephenson he’s coming off of a season where he hit .319/.372/.482, but a season that he only played 50 games in as he also battled injury.

Neither player is eligible to be a free agent until after the 2026 season. Both will be arbitration eligible next season and will work through that process for 2024, 2025, and 2026 as long as they don’t agree to a contract before then.

Britton’s estimates for both players is for 5-year deals. For Tyler Stephenson he argues that given that he’s coming off of a season in which he missed plenty of time and that the team is exploring the idea of him spending more time not playing catcher than him being behind the plate that it could make some sense for him to take the deal as guys at first base and designated hitter tend to be paid less than catchers when their bats are similar.

For Jonathan India the argument is that he probably shouldn’t be looking to sign an extension coming off of a down season. That makes sense and India is certainly looking to “come back” from his down year. If he can return to what he did during the 2021 season then he’ll be looking at signing a deal worth quite a bit more money than if he were to look at signing a deal today coming off of the 2022 campaign.

The “Trade Rumors”

Edwin Diaz tore his patellar tendon in his right knee during the celebration after Puerto Rico defeated the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. That’s led to the discussion of how the New York Mets would attempt the replace their closer who is coming off of a season where he saved 32 games and posted a 1.31 ERA in 61 appearances. Realistically, they aren’t. There aren’t guys out there who could have 18 walks and 118 strikeouts in 62.0 innings that teams are willing to trade away, and on March 17th they definitely don’t exist on the free agent market.

But someone is going to make the Mets roster now that wasn’t going to before the injury. That’s led to some people exploring the idea that the Mets had last year and attempting to acquire Reds reliever and the brother of Edwin Diaz, Alexis Diaz.

The younger Diaz brother posted a 1.84 ERA last season for Cincinnati. In his 59 games he threw 63.2 innings, picked up 10 saves, walked 33 batters, and he struck out 83. An outstanding season, indeed. And it was also his rookie season. That means that he’s under team control for at least five more seasons before he would reach free agency. As noted above in the tweet from Andy Martino – the Reds asking price was too high for the Mets. Now, it’s possible that the injury to Edwin Diaz could change what the Mets would be willing to give up given that they are in need of a replacement for an elite reliever at this point. But Cincinnati’s asking price probably hasn’t changed. Nor should it. Alexis Diaz has elite stuff and his rookie season was outstanding. Toss in the years remaining before free agency and the Reds shouldn’t be looking to move him for anything that doesn’t just blow the doors off. Until the Mets do figure out, though, expect the rumors to pop up just about anywhere you’re looking of them needing to acquire the younger of the Diaz brothers.

50 Responses

  1. Mike Bittenbender

    Desperate teams can be had on the trade front. Diaz is a luxury feature on a team that might win 70 ish games. I’d be open to moving but I would need a haul that would make the Castillo trade look like chump change. I don’t know the NYM system well enough to put a list together. That’s why I read and follow Doug, but I’d listen. They think they can win it all and have an owner who wants to win it all. They might just overpay with pieces to put around winning teams we hope to have in the next couple yrs

  2. AllTheHype

    I would say Alexis Diaz trade value is up, but not that high really. He’s had great success, but in just one season. Given the volatility of relievers, he hasn’t proven much yet from a long term dependability standpoint. Reds should hold on to him for now, and hope he repeats ’22.

    • Votto4life

      True, but Alex Díaz does have some value and the Reds shouldn’t just give him away.

      The Mets have a $250 million dollar payroll, if they want to roll the dice on not making the play offs because they refuse to give up prospects for a good reliever, thats on them.

      The Reds are going to finish last with an $80 million dollar payroll either way, the Reds have nothing to lose.

      • greenmtred

        Well, they could lose by not having a dominant high-leverage relief pitcher just when the emergence of CES, EDLC, McClain etc. makes them plausible contenders. It’s common to read that it’s easy to find serviceable relief pitchers, the Reds’ recent experience notwithstanding, but is it really easy to find outstanding ones?

      • Tomn

        Doug, what’s up with Lodolo? He’s been used very sparingly this spring, or so it seems? Is he okay?

  3. Votto4life

    I don’t think extending Jonathon India is a great idea with a ton of middle infielders churning through the system.

    I would like to see Tyler Stephenson extended as a catcher. If the plan is to have him DH or play first base then I wouldn’t extend him as those position are easy to fill. Plus, Stephenson probably won’t sign an extension with the Reds if that was the plan because it diminishes his value on the open market. Unless the Reds would offer him a long term deal like Joey Votto, which I don’t think they will or should do.

    The other issue of course is the Reds haven’t signed any player to a multi-year contract for the past couple of years. Based on Little Phil’s comments about “players being paid not to play”, I don’t think that will change anytime soon. Maybe it will change when the next crop of young players emerge, but I don’t look for any contract extension the next couple of years.

    As for the Mets losing their closer, that is their problem. The Mets have a history of making low ball trade offers. If they want Alex Díaz as their closer ,then they need to give up Batty or Avarez, otherwise the can pound sand.

    • DaveCT

      It always bothers me when teams such as the Mets or NYY just assume they can trade for other teams’ players as if entitled to them. Especially when the asking price being ‘too high’ is leaked. But what do I know?

    • MK

      The Mets have two guys still on their roster with closer experience so they are not in dyer need Adam Ottovina, and David Robertson. Both have a more substantial track record as a mlb closer than Alexis. From the Mets standpoint Fernando Cruz might be a more realistic target for them. They would not need to make as long a term commitment.

    • Matt WI

      Great point about the many IF in the pipeline and India. Also, I worry what about the Reds would make any of them want to sign long term right now? The young Starters will really need to shine and then maybe there could be some buy in

  4. MBS

    I wonder how high they’d go. Alvarez, or Batty, plus a young promising arm? Maybe if we gave them Marte, and Diaz we could get Alveraz, and Batty plus an arm? That would be 2 guys that would plug in immediately, then we’d be shopping for a closer in the offseason.

    • Stock

      I think you are over-rating the value of a RP. I would take Baty for Diaz straight up.

      The Mets had two first round picks last year. They took Kevin Parada with the 11th pick and Jett Williams with the 14th pick. Williams would give Daytona yet another SS. Parada would give Dayton another Catcher. A third option would be to include OF Alex Ramirez in place of one of these two players.

      • MBS

        I’m not overvaluing, I’m dreaming on how big they might go. I would take either Alvarez or Baty straight up if they offered it. Mets have been going big, why not see how much you can get them to cough up? If you get nothing you still have a closer that’s under team control for 5 more years.

    • TR

      Kind of ludicrous to suggest Mets would give up their top 2 prospects for a RP. And one of them being top 5 prospect in the game. Let’s be realistic

  5. Jim t

    While I understand the rationale behind trading Diaz the thought of how terrible our bull pen would be is beyond frightening. It already is historically bad. Could you imagine how many runs ahead we would need to be to consider a lead safe?

    • Votto4life

      Yeah, I understand the concern, but how many save opportunities is Alex Díaz going to have this season?

      I would hold on to Díaz unless the Mets would offer Avarez or Batty. It’s very unlikely they would make that offer, unless we get a few weeks into the season and their bullpen blows a bunch of leads.

      My guess is Díaz remains a Red for now.

      • JayTheRed

        I want to hold onto Diaz… It’s hard to find very good quality closers. You can find bullpen pieces anywhere usually, but closers are getting a little harder to find these days.

        I’m not saying Diaz is Chapman like when we had him, but he sure seems to be a very good pitcher. Who knows maybe he will end up being better than Chapman overall.

  6. RedsGettingBetter

    I think the price of Reds for trading Alexis Díaz should change since the last trade deadline. Considering the Mets situation losing their star closer, that just should jump up the value of Alexis Díaz. It should be higher now.

  7. redfanorbust

    I would be surprised if Mets don’t make a serious attempt to trade for Aleis Diaz. They may wait till the trading deadline but how far back might they see themselves in the standings at that point? Britton or inhouse pitcher is available it seems but these are the Mets not the Reds and retreads and 0WAR or less players are not what the Mets do. Mets have spent a ton of money and would seem to be all in for the WS. Reds can ask for the moon but probably will not get it. Asking for a hefty overpay is more realistic. As many have mentioned like Mike B. above Reds might win 70 games this year with him and what is the point of having an ace closer. A chance to get say 3-1 on your money is something the rebuilding Reds would need to take very seriously. I would start with Francisco Alvarez minor catcher #1 prospect for Mets and go from there. Mets have another good catcher Perada in their system they can fall back on. I have looked at Mets minor league players and the pickings seem to be slim after him so if Mets say no bueno to Alvarez I would say to have a nice day Billy and say hi to the wife and kids for me.

    • Optimist

      Only problem with the trade scenarios is the possible “player AND cash consideration” transaction. They should ask for the moon, and may get it, in terms of prospects. They would certainly get it in terms of prospect and cash. Consider the Mets willingness to spend and the Reds willingness to receive.

      • Amarillo

        It’s against league rules to trade for cash. The maximum amount of cash a team can receive in a trade is the value of the contract of a player being traded, and any number above 1 Million must be approved by the league.

  8. LDS

    Extensions? Personally, I’d wait to see if India shows signs of bouncing back and whether Stephson can stay healthy. If yes to both or either, then extend accordingly if you can pull it off. Regarding Diaz, as I said last night, if the Mets are offering (and they wouldn’t) Alvarez, Baty, and Ramirez then talk to them. Otherwise, no. Diaz may stink this year. But, if trading him, he should be very expensive.

    • 2020ball

      Weren’t you asking for extensions not that long ago?

      • 2020ball

        I mean, I agree with everything you said 100% mind you, but I thought that was a criticism you had toward the team before the spring. May have been someone else.

      • LDS

        I don’t remember that but I guess it’s possible. I’d be more inclined to lock up EDLC cheap regardless of future production. If he lives up to expectations, the Reds won’t pay him in the future.

    • MBS

      I’d explore extensions with both, they would both be cheaper to extend today than they would if they have strong 2023 seasons.

      The depth at middle infield is real, but I don’t know where India’s head is. I feel like he was checked out in 22. A little too upset with the teardown. I don’t blame him, he got his team ripped away, but getting a gauge on his interest in staying a Red would be a help.

      Stephenson had a couple of freak injuries, and worst case scenario seems to be a position change, best case is we have one of the best hitting C’s in the game.

    • Melvin

      @ LDS – I understand what you’re saying. First of all I don’t believe the Reds now have any intentions of extending Stephenson, India or anyone else for that matter. However, even if they were, personally I’d be hesitant to do so. Waiting to see if either one or both can stay healthy for a full season (this one) would be wise especially with India since we have so many middle infielders coming soon. I’d be more inclined to extend EDLC than anyone else. As a matter of fact, India, if he does bounce back and his value goes up, may be a trade candidate himself. As for Diaz, the Reds have all the leverage. His price should be extremely high.

      • Votto4life

        @melvin good points. I agree with your entire post.

        I truly don’t think the Reds are going to extend anyone for awhile. The Castellinis seem gun shy when it comes to multi-year contracts.

  9. MBS

    Today’s lineup looks like the opening day lineup. We’re almost ready for opening day!

    • wkuchad

      Those are the nine position players I’m wanting (and expecting) to see opening day.

      • Tom Diesman

        It’s close for me. Nix Casali and add Friedl or Fairchild.

      • wkuchad

        Agree about Casali, but I was not counting him. I don’t consider DH a position player.

        I’m actually liking our starting lineup, but extremely worried about our pitching.

  10. Stock

    Many won’t like this but what about India and Diaz for Baty, Kevin Parada and one of (Alex Ramirez and Jett Williams).

    Baty is a stud and will start for the Reds at 3B on opening day. This moves Steer to 2B for a year until McLain and EDLC slot in the MI.

    • CI3J

      I actually think trading India is a good idea, but not now. His stock is too low.

      However, if he has a good first half of the season and the kids are tearing it up in the minors, I’d look at what they could get for him.

      • Stock

        I agree to an extent. I think his value will be much better come July because he will perform more like his rookie season they summer. However, if you can get this value now you do it. I would rather have Baty for the next 6 or 7 years vs. India for the next 4. In fact I would rather have Baty for the next 4 years than India for the next 4.

        I would rather have Parada and Jett Williams on my farm than Diaz in my bullpen the next 5 years.

    • Tom Diesman

      I’d deal Stephenson too. What good is a catcher that you put behind the plate?

      • MK

        Better than the catcher that you don’t put behind the plate.

      • Tom Diesman

        Oops. Exactly. Lost the won’t between you and put.

      • greenmtred

        I guess the answer depends upon how this not-catcher hits. Stephenson has shown a very advanced approach reminiscent of another Reds’ first-baseman. He could easily prove to be the best hitter on the team for years to come.

  11. Roger Garrett

    India and TySteve are the only 2 position players we have that may start on other teams.I certainly would lock them up ASAP.It would also signal to the fans we really do have a plan to try and become competitive.

  12. MK

    If there are extensions a decision on Votto after 2023 has to be made. If they would do an extension now I would think it has been. I’d like to see India moved to left field first with McLean installed at second. Though I don’t know of the value of extending a second baseman or left fielder.There are a number of people in organization that can cover those positions. I’d be more likely to extend Stephenson and Lodolo.

  13. JB

    There are Four First Basemen in the National League that are better than TySteve. Freeman,Alonso,Goldshmidt and Olson. Hoskins I think is better but TySteve didn’t have a full year last year. Catching? I think he is 4th best behind Realmuto, Contreras and Will Smith. I would extend him.

    • Stock

      Christian Walker, Croneworth, Tellez, Hoskins, Maybe Cron and Lamonte Wade are better also. Matt Mervis may be better if given the chance. That probably knocks him out of the top 10.

      • JB

        Tellez? Lol Stephenson doubled him in WAR and only had 166 at bats to his 529. I’ll take TySteve every day over Cronenworth and Cron. Wade had same amount of at bats and Ty Steve was better. Walker, and like I said Hoskins probably better.

  14. MK

    I don’t think they are interested in either. They have more battle tested closers and have a couple like Myers on their bench.

    • Votto4life

      @MK oh I know, I just suggested that in jest. Honestly, I am not sure the Reds have a position player on their ML roster that other teams really covet.

      I suppose other teams might like to have Tyler Stephenson, but I bet he is not valued, by other teams, nearly as much as he is on RLN.