Last week it was reported in the Cincinnati Enquirer that the Reds had discussions of contract extensions with some of their players. President of baseball operations Nick Krall did not mention any specific names that the club has had these conversations with. The only player we can be certain that it wasn’t is Hunter Greene. And that’s because he signed a contract extension earlier this year and is now locked up through at least 2028, and potentially 2029 as the Reds hold an option for that season.
Much of Cincinnati’s team is young and still early in their careers. Signing players that fall into that category has some potential positives and some negatives. On the positive front, the club can lock in talent for what they hope is less than market value and give them cost certainty as they build a roster in the future. Knowing how much money certain players will be making can help a team figure out moves both at the current time as well as figure out what they can do in the future when it comes to adding additional players and the salaries that come with it.
One of the downsides there is that sometimes you wind up with a guaranteed contract to a player who simply isn’t performing and while it’s not likely a big chunk of money that the team will be “eating” due to the fact that it’s not a free agent contract but rather one that buys out pre-free agency years and maybe a year or two of free agency, it’s still leaving open the potential of “dead money” on the payroll. Scott Kingery signed an extension with the Phillies in spring training of 2018 that guaranteed him $23,000,000 through the 2023 season. He spent the full 2018 and 2019 seasons with the Phillies. Since then he’s played in 52 games in the big leagues and has had just one hit for them since 2021 began.
Unlike the Reds young players, Kingery had never played a big league game before he signed his deal. Cincinnati’s young core of players have at least some big league experience that the team can look at to help them better gauge what they can do, but in 2019 Kingery had a solid big league season, putting up a .788 OPS for with Phillies with 34 doubles and 19 home runs. His numbers fell off of a cliff after that despite what historically should have been his prime seasons.
There’s some risk and reward in play for the team. But there’s also some risk and reward for the player. Taking a deal now likely means delaying free agency. It also means that if the player becomes a star that they will almost assuredly be taking less money than they would have gotten in arbitration. The flip side there is that if they don’t become a star, injuries pile up, or things just don’t work out – they still get that guaranteed money for a little bit.
Davey Johnson, Lou Piniella up for the Hall of Fame in 2024
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced the eight men who are being considered by the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee for the class of 2024. All eight are non-players (or at least as it related to being placed in the Hall of Fame). Two of them managed the Cincinnati Reds: Lou Piniella and Davey Johnson.
After managing the New York Yankees from 1986-1988, Lou Piniella took over the Cincinnati Reds in 1990. You could say that things went well for him as he managed the club to a World Series championship, winning the division with a 91-71 record before defeating the Pirates in the National League Championship Series and then steamrolling the Oakland Athletics in a 4-game sweep in the World Series.
The next year saw the Reds fall off in a big way, going 74-88. Piniella and Cincinnati would rebound in 1992, but their 90-72 record still left them eight games back of Atlanta and in an era before the wild card, it meant that the second best record in the division and third best record in the league kept you at home in October. Piniella and the Reds parted ways after the season and he headed off to Seattle where he managed for the next decade before taking over in Tampa Bay for three seasons, and then in Chicago for four more years before retiring.
Davey Johnson joined the Reds in 1993 – they year after Piniella left – but he wasn’t the manager for the entire season. After a 20-24 start, Tony Perez was fired and Johnson then took over. He and the team went 53-65 the rest of that season. In 1994 he managed the team to a 66-48 record and had them in 1st place, but the labor dispute between the players and owners led to a lockout and the season ended in August.
Johnson returned in 1995 with Cincinnati and in a 144-game season that got a late start due to the lockout that began the year prior, the Reds went 85-59 and finished in 1st place. Cincinnati would sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers in the division series, but they then ran into Atlanta and got swept in the National League Championship Series. Johnson didn’t manage the Reds beyond that season and is the most recent manager for the club to win a playoff series.
After leaving Cincinnati, Johnson managed the Baltimore Orioles in 1996 and 1997, winning 88 games in his first season and then 98 games in his second. Those were the only two seasons he spent with Baltimore before taking over the Dodgers in 1999 and 2000. He then didn’t manage for a decade before taking over the Nationals as their third manager of the season in 2011 and sticking around for two seasons after that – including winning 98 games and the division in 2012.
If anyone receives 75% of the vote or more they will be enshrined into the Hall of Fame. The results will be announced on December 3rd at 7:30pm ET on MLB Network.