From the AP:

Jason LaRue agreed to a two-year, $9.1 million contract Tuesday with the Cincinnati Reds, solidifying his role as the starting catcher.

The Reds also added a left-hander to their bullpen by agreeing to a one-year, $800,000 deal with Chris Hammond.

LaRue will get $3.9 million next season and $5.2 million in 2007. If he’s traded after Oct. 15, his 2007 salary will automatically increase to $5.45 million.

Seems like a lot of money to me for LaRue, especially in ’07. I think this says a lot about how far away the Reds think any of their minor league catching talent is from being ML ready and how much confidence they have in Valentin being able to reproduce his ’05 numbers.

They allowed starter Ramon Ortiz and reliever Joe Valentine to become free agents, declining to offer them contracts for 2006.

No surprise here on Ortiz. A little bit of a surprise on Valentine.

I’ve been a Reds fan since the late ’60’s, with my luck of being able to attend plenty of games at Riverfront during the BRM era. I was sitting in the Green Seats in the OF when Pete came home in ’84 and was in the Red seats when Glenn Braggs reached over the fence in ’90 to beat the Pirates. I have had many favorites from Jim Maloney to Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, Adam Dunn, and Jay Bruce.

About The Author

I've been a Reds fan since the late '60's, with my luck of being able to attend plenty of games at Riverfront during the BRM era. I was sitting in the Green Seats in the OF when Pete came home in '84 and was in the Red seats when Glenn Braggs reached over the fence in '90 to beat the Pirates. I have had many favorites from Jim Maloney to Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, Adam Dunn, and Jay Bruce.

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7 Responses

  1. Chris

    I sure don’t like that investment. I like LaRue, but $9M for a catcher in his age 32-33 seasons? Not a smart bet, IMO. Baseball-reference shows Rick Wilkins as LaRue’s most similar player. Wilkins caught a grand total of 7 games in his age 32 and 33 seasons. Prospectus has Kelly Stinnett as his number one comp – Stinnett’s age 32 and 33 seasons were with the Reds (’02 and ’03), where he put up 788 and 771 OPSs.

  2. Joel

    Larue’s OPS+ has gone up every year since 2000 while putting up plate appearance numbers between 397 and 445 each season. Wilkins career fell off the table after age 29, when he put up 489 PA and a 102 OPS+ – it was only his second season with as many as 360 PAs. Stinnett has never been over 320 in his career. I think Larue is in very good shape and has become much more effective at the plate since he learned to take a pitch or two (his OBP has steadily increased each year).

    When you compare what Larue is making to what other catchers today are making, I think it’s a good deal. His offensive numbers aren’t disimilar to Varitek, but he makes half as much.

  3. Chad

    Good news about Ortiz and Valentine. I have no confidence that either will be an effective Major League pitcher at any point in the future.

  4. Chris

    I agree that LaRue, version 2004-05 would’ve been worth $5M. I’m just concerned that they’re paying for past performance here, and he’s not a great bet to keep it up. Catchers often peak late, AND age notoriously fast. I’m afraid the Reds forgot (or never noticed) this.

  5. ohiobobcat

    I’m afraid there are not a lot of alternatives. The system is barren of any catching prospects who can handle the bat better than Eric Milton. Valentin had a phenomenal ’05, but it is most certainly an outlier performance level. FA catchers are making a mint, even league average C’s. LaRue is tough as nails, and often takes the field when others would be nursing injuries.

    That said, $5.2M in ’07 is going to take some getting used to…but it seems to be market rate. $8M for Milton, $11M for AJ Burnett, etc.

    There’s a man on the wing of the plane!

  6. LVW

    The fact he’s never been overworked as a catcher works in his favor at that age.

  7. Travis, indy

    What about Larues, catching skills?
    Isn’t he pretty good behind the plate, a vet to handle young pitchers?