There comes a point where any baseball team not named the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers has to part ways with the guys who grew up in their minor league system. That is exactly what the Cincinnati Reds are not doing. While loyalty says a lot about a team’s ownership, it can be very costly — and not just in dollars. It can strap a team down for years, cost championship runs and ultimately result in stadiums where echos can be heard.
The best example of a team not to emulate is the Philadelphia Phillies. In fact, the Phils were the team that started the trend of multi-year, mega-million dollar first baseman contracts when they extended Ryan Howard by five years at $125 million. By the time it reached Joey Votto‘s turn to sign, the five-year $20 million per annum was old school. It morphed into an Albert Pujols-like 10-year deal worth a quarter-billion. The Phillies already had or have since given Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels huge deals.
Reds fans, does that sound familiar with a second baseman, starting pitcher and a first baseman? Even though Brandon Phillips was not drafted by the Reds, he’s as close to a homegrown player as possible. And now the Reds have some really big-name talent entering their first year of arbitration in Todd Frazier, Devin Mesoraco, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, Zack Cozart and Alfredo Simon. Four of those six are homegrown, and with Johnny Cueto (also homegrown) up for free agency at the end of next season, the Reds will likely be able to ink only one pitcher and one position player by their free-agency walk year.
Reds owner Bob Castellini seems scared that fans will flee the seats if the team trades a big-name home boy. They would be disappointed at first, but ultimately any fan of any sports team wants one thing — a winner — not an overpaid bunch of BFFs.