Homer Bailey’s Contract Extension Will Haunt the Cincinnati Reds

Homer Bailey Cincinnati Reds

Getty Images

After discussing a contract for the the entirety of the current offseason and coming to the brink of an arbitration hearing, the Cincinnati Reds and Homer Bailey have come to an agreement on a six-year, $100 million deal.  This contract will take Bailey through five years of free agency and represent a level of overpayment on the part of the Reds that will come back to haunt the organization for years to come.

Over the last two seasons Bailey has had a bit of a breakout from the inconsistency that marked his first few years in the major leagues. He has thrown more than 200 innings each year and put up ERAs of 3.68 and 3.49.  While these numbers are solid middle of the rotation output, they do not overwhelm the eye and neither does a combined record of 24-22 in 2012 and 2013.  In terms of output over the last couple years, it is obvious that Bailey has what it takes to pitch at the MLB level, but his place at 43rd in the majors in WAR  in 2013 is indicative of the fact that he isn’t anything special.

At 27 years of age Bailey should have four to six more years similar to the last two if granted good health, and his electric mix of power pitches would make him an enticing player on the free agent market he was due to hit after the 2014 season. But the fact that he has had issues with shoulder inflammation in the past, has only thrown more than 200 innings twice at the major league level and has a career record of 49-45 with a 4.25 ERA would leave general managers thinking twice before signing him. In fact, his output seems eerily similar to that of Carl Pavano and A.J. Burnett before they signed big deals with the New York Yankees — deals that didn’t exactly work out.

Two guys who signed over the last offseason that look similar to Bailey in terms of having great stuff, being a bit inconsistent during their careers and being relatively young were Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez. Both of these pitchers struggled to find work throughout the offseason and ultimately ended up with identical four year, $48 million deals. Why the Reds didn’t use this as a template for a deal with Bailey is a wonder, especially considering they would have only had to pay him $11.6 million if they lost the arbitration case had talks fallen apart this offseason.

Overpaying for Bailey now will not only look bad by itself in the future, but it will hurt the Reds in their attempts to sign Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Aroldis Chapman, who all need new deals in the next couple years. After accounting for Bailey’s average annual salary, the Reds have $85.36 million tied up in nine players for the 2015 season and $63.71 million in four players for 2015, meaning they will have to cut ties with some good players along the way.

For a team that has designs of maintaining their renaissance of recent years to become a perennial threat in the National League Central for years to come, it is foolish that Bailey will be taking up $16.667 million per year for the next six years. This is especially true considering he has never made an All-Star Game or even been a contender for the Cy Young Award, and this deal will ultimately end up being a boon for the Bailey’s bank account and a franchise killer for the Reds.

Tyler Leli is a Washington Capitals writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or join his network on Google.

Around the Web

  • SlowPoke Butterfree

    That’s the pitching market. He would have got just as much on the open market. And with a win being worth 7M on this market, it’s a decent deal.

    • Tyler Leli

      Just because everyone else is paying crazy money doesn’t mean the Reds should follow suit. The can’t hand financially with the big boys, and their starting pitching depth is already unbelievable. Holding on to homegrown players is nice, but not blowing 1/6 of your annual budget is also a good idea.

  • SlowPoke Butterfree

    This is the mindset that leads to people paying for what someone has done in the past. Not in the future. A bad mindset.

    • Tyler Leli

      For a guy that is 27 (almost 28) there is no doubting that what you have seen from Bailey is at or near his peak value. At best he is going to have 4 more seasons of 3-5 WAR value, which places his peak value at 12-15 million per year. Letting him play out the 2014 season and earning that salary or dropping off a bit and getting him on a cheaper deal would have been a better move IMO.

  • mlr262

    I think a nice comparison to Homer Bailey is Anibal Sanchez (although last year Sanchez put up more WAR than Bailey has in his entire career). Coming into the 2013 season, Sanchez’s stats were similar to Bailey’s. Sanchez ended up signing a contract that will pay out around $20M less. The Reds overpaid, minimally, by $20M.

    • Tyler Leli

      The only problem in the comparison is that $20 million means a lot more to the Reds than the Tigers. When Bailey is 34 years old there he will be lucky to even register a 2.0 WAR, which will mean that in order to live up to the value he is being signed for that he will have to have a few seasons comparable to Sanchez in 2013. I simply don’t see that happening, and do not think that Bailey would have commanded anywhere north of an $80 million deal on the open market. Letting him play out the season and earn his true value would have been a better move, and would have left open the door to sign Cueto, Latos Chapman and Mike Leake along the way.

  • Mirko

    This is why the Reds management is a joke….