The thunderbolt firing of Dusty Baker marks not the end, but the beginning of a momentous offseason for the Cincinnati Reds. An important part of their decision-making concerns the future of Homer Bailey. Mark Polishuk at MLB Trade Rumors offered one opinion on Monday:

“It wouldn’t be shocking” if the Reds traded Homer Bailey to create some payroll space,’s Mark Sheldon opines.  Bailey earned $5.3MM last season and will get a healthy raise in his third and final time through the arbitration process this winter.  Though Bailey has been one of the Reds’ best pitchers over the last two years, he “has shown little interest in signing” a multiyear deal with the team, Sheldon writes, so the Reds could move him now before possibly losing him in free agency after next season.

Sound about right? Not really and here’s why:

1. If the Reds do decide to trade Bailey, it won’t be to create payroll space for 2014.

Every major league team north of South Beach would gladly pay the $8-10 million the arbitration process will award Bailey. That’s a bargain for a pitcher who earned 3.5 WAR last season (average of BR and FG). And Bailey’s 2014 salary alone won’t prevent the Reds from inking long-term deals with Mat Latos or Shin-Soo Choo.

The clear-eyed case for trading Bailey — or Mike Leake — is leveraging a relative surplus to upgrade a position player in the short-term. Right-handed bat, score more runs, etc.

In the context of a starting rotation of Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, Tony Cingrani and Aroldis Chapman, the Reds may reasonably decide an impact bat is worth more than Bailey’s final season. The hitter may actually cost more than Bailey, so the trade wouldn’t really be about 2014 dollars.

2. Trading Bailey may not be as easy as it seems. 

Because Bailey has just a single year remaining before becoming a free agent, his acquisition would appeal only to teams in certain situations. Think contenders or teams on the brink of it. The Reds would have to find a trading partner from that set of teams that is willing to part with a 2014 offensive contributor – one that’s an upgrade over the current Reds player at that position.

A match for Homer isn’t impossible, but nowhere near open-and-shut, either. It might actually prove easier to trade Mike Leake for a 2014-bat because of his two years of remaining team control.

And there’s no chance a Reds’ front office that just fired Dusty Baker over “next level” concerns will suffer the huge 2014-hit entailed by giving up Bailey for prospects. Especially because if the Reds let Homer leave via free agency, they’d almost certainly qualify for a compensation draft pick. The Reds could keep Homer and his fastball for all of 2014 and still add a top prospect.

3. The concern about Bailey not getting along with local media is overblown

There’s little reason to doubt the rumors that Homer Bailey would like to return to play in his home state. Heck, he wouldn’t even be the first Texan with multiple no-hitters and wearing #34 to do it.

But that preference has more to do with the front end of Homer’s horses than it does with local broadcast celebrities who at times resemble the back ends.

Nothing we’ve been able to glimpse about Homer Bailey’s personality indicates he’d much care what Marty Brennaman or the Hall of Famer’s comrades at WLW think. A guy who bow hunts animals that view humans as food probably wouldn’t let that bother him. If Bailey comes to believe that signing an agreement with the Reds is in his financial and professional interest, he won’t pass on it because of local media commentary.

The fans at GABP treat Bailey with warmth and enthusiasm. Outside of pitchers who throw 100 mph, he’s the crowd favorite. If the tall right hander is looking for public support (doubtful), he can find it in those red seats on the bank of the Ohio River. The only folks who believe that broadcasters play a larger role than fans in the affirmation department are the self-important media personalities themselves.

4. Bailey may now be motivated to sign an extension

A long-term extension this offseason would afford Homer Bailey insurance against the downside risks of serious injury or regression in 2014. The Reds are the only team that can offer that. It’s increasingly common for players to factor in security and sign extensions before reaching free agency. Jay Bruce and Joey Votto are two up close examples.

Bailey need look no further than the cautionary tale of Tim Lincecum’s unexpected regression.

If Bailey’s WAR were to fall next season from 3.5 to 2.5, it would end up costing him millions to have not signed an extension. That might result from something as simple as uncontrollable bad luck. Bailey’s BABIP (.284 in 2013) might rise to its career level (.298) or worse in 2014. He’d have pitched just as well, but not have the same numbers for his free agency negotiation.

Conventional wisdom holds that Bailey didn’t express much interest in a long-term agreement last offseason. Assuming that’s factually correct, it doesn’t mean that he won’t be looking for a deal this winter. Bailey may have felt previously that he hadn’t quite reached his potential and wanted to pocket another strong, healthy season before entering negotiations over a long-term contract. He accomplished that. Maybe that makes this winter the right time to deal.

On the other hand, if Bailey can make it through 2014 without injury or regression, he’ll be able to negotiate without having to trade money for downside insurance. He might feel that he can take that risk.

5. The Reds have the cash for Latos and Bailey and more

Be skeptical of outdated claims about payroll austerity. The Reds will reap growing stacks of revenues in the next few years from several sources: MLB national broadcast rights, MLB digital platform sales, more generous revenue sharing, continued attendance increases, a new local media contract and (possibly) future postseason revenues.

The team’s annual revenues could easily grow by more than $100 million over the lifetime of Homer’s extension. If ownership follows through on their promise to invest new revenues into player salaries, total payroll could exceed $160 million by 2017. The upward trajectory has already begun. Payroll in 2013 ($107.5 million) was $25 million more than in 2012.

When Joey Votto’s salary peaks at $25 million in 2018, it will represent just 15 percent of club payroll. So the Reds have room in future budgets for several significant new contracts.

Again, you don’t axe a manager who wins 90 games and then hamstring the next guy with the same team or worse. Owners naturally want to loosen the purse strings to help make the firing/hiring decisions look smart.

It’s going to be a fascinating offseason.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 87 Comments

  1. Given the linkage between qualifying offers and high draft picks, it stands to reason that the price for Bailey would be significantly higher than it would otherwise be. If dealing for prospects, I would think that two excellent (first round equivalent) prospects would be a starting point for negotiations.

  2. Excellent post. The real trick for the front office will be prioritizing their work. I think the prospect of trading pitching is predicated on whether you convert Chapman to starter every bit as much as the dollars Bailey will be asking for. A decision on converting Chapman cannot be a fallback option after exploring extensions for Latos and Bailey. It has to be done first because the relative surplus or scarcity in pitching will inform all the other decisions they make this offseason.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: Trading Bailey for a position player would have to be done on the assumption that Chapman would be a successful starter. He might prove to be. He might not. Bailey is, and is getting better, and Reds’ success in 2014 is clearly going to hinge on pitching.

  3. Most teams are a starting pitcher away from contending.

    If any of this is to be construed as a choice between signing Bailey or Choo, the answer — to me — is apparent.

    You never have too much pitching.

    The No. 3 guy in the rotation is worth a 5-year deal. Homer is going to get better and better.

  4. I don’t understand point #1 in the post. You say that at $9mil a year he’ll be a “bargain,” based on his WAR. And that’s all well, and good, but what does that have to do with payroll?

    You say that trading him won’t clear payroll in 2014, but obviously, if he’s going to make $9mil next year, and someone else is paying him, that’s $9mil that the Reds won’t be paying. Presumably they would be trading him for someone who makes less, maybe even the minimum.

    They might be able to take that money and give it to Choo, right? Am I missing something?

    • @al: Choo’s contract will be in the neighborhood of $100 million. The $8-10 million that Homer will make in 2014 wouldn’t make a difference. Teams spend money where they can find value. Homer at that price for 2014 is value.

      • @Steve Mancuso: Those are still different points. saying that Homer is a value at $9mil is not the same thing as saying freeing up $9mil isn’t clearing payroll space.

        Choo will probably cost more than $15mil per year. Clearing $9mil this year (and not committing to Bailey long term) frees up some money for that. Not all of it, but you yourself said the Reds have cash.

        The value point is fine, but if the Reds think they can get value for less (in someone like Chapman or Cingrani) then trading Bailey would free up payroll room.

        • @al: I get what you’re saying. I just can’t see the Reds trading Homer for prospects, especially right after firing a manager because they are desperate to win right now. The long-term contract is an entirely different matter.

          • @Steve Mancuso: It really just depends on what they think of their rotation going into next year. The Rays traded James Shields to get out from under his contract, but also planned on contending this year (and made it further than the Reds).

            If the Reds traded Bailey it would be because they think they had enough starting pitching and that they felt like they could be a better team in 2014 if they traded him. It wouldn’t be a straight rebuilding move.

            I agree that if Price gets the job, then Chapman will get his day in the rotation. Especially if Broxton and Marshall are expected to be back and healthy for spring training. That gives the Reds:


            Given injury concerns, I wouldn’t mind if they broke camp with the top 6 on the team and Reynolds in AAA. That said, if they are in “win now” mode, they may feel like dealing from a position of depth to fill a need would make the 2014 team better. If they are going to deal one of those guys, Bailey and Leake make the most sense.

          • @al:

            Not sure the Reds should rely on Broxton and/or Marshall being healthy next year The Reds need to find some young power arms for the bullpen if possible.

          • @al: I would disagree with your statement why Rays traded Shields. I think they traded Shields was not because of his contract and more to fill a need, to get a bat(Wil Myers) AND they had guys to fill in rotation, Moore and Cobb, to pick up Shields production. I think that narrative fits better with your second point, that if Bailey is traded its to fill a lineup need and Reds believe they have enough rotation to fill in without him. That has to be a heck of a slam-dunk of a trade as I’d rather keep Bailey to help win in 2014 and if he walks, then make qualifying offer and get the draft pick.

          • @al: I look forward to another winter of the Chapman debate. (NOT!) But I’m not sure you can say Price would move Chappy to the rotation. His opinion is a bit murky. Price made statements that moving Chapman to the rotation might not be a good idea because of the 4 days off between starts. But he also made the statement Chapman wasn’t signed to be a reliever and his 3 pitch arsenal was enough to be a starter. I don’t know and I think it’s safe the only person who does know what he thinks is Bryan Price.

            Regardless, if Price is manager, Chapman will be in the role that is best for him.

  5. Homer Bailey to Texas for Martin Perez and Rougned Odor? Perez isn’t as good as Bailey, but he is under control for a while, still has projection left in him, and can immediately contribute. Odor is a high upside 2B/3B prospect who played well at A+ and AA last season and will be just 20 next year. Seems pretty fair to me, but feel free to disagree. The Rangers will not be giving up Profar for a year of Bailey.

    Other fits for a Bailey trade might include the Royals and Orioles among others.

    • @AlphaZero: I agree that the Royals may be in the position to trade for Bailey, dont know about Orioles. He may be more willing to go to someplace closer to TX so KC would work, but Baltimore would be farther.
      Since we are playing GM, what if you trade Phillips to the Braves for prospects then trade Bailey to Houston for Altuve and either pitching or possibly a power bat for LF. Of course, the Astros would have to have a power bat. Oh yeah, they do,

  6. Are you really still on the Chapman to the rotation bandwagon?? He has no secondary pitches he can consistently throw for strikes, we have seen this time and again, even his fastball is only in the zone about 60% of the time, he gets the ks because he throws so hard you have to swing and hope you make contact, when starting he wont be able to bring 100+ every pitch. He is a closer.

    • @tiberius3108: Bryan Price seems to think Chapman can start. I’m guessing he has a better informed opinion than any of us. In the last two spring trainings, Chapman has been the best starting pitcher on the Reds. Time to see what he can do. If it doesn’t work out, the Reds can always go back to giving him a couple dozen important innings each year. His save percentage in 2013 was league average.

    • @tiberius3108: We all know about Chapman’s Slider, but you forget about his curve. It’s a doozy as well. He doesn’t use it when closing.

  7. Good stuff, nicely done. The only thing I’d wonder about, if Homer doesn’t care too much one way or the other about Marty and the media types, why not talk to Marty briefly after his no-hitter and be done with it? It surely did Homer no favors and only stirred he pot with WLW.

    Bigger picture, how do you, as a GM, even begin to maneuver during this offseason? “Fascinating offseason” might be a bit of an understatement, actually. If you are Walt, do you tell a manager when he is hired that Chapman WILL be a starter, or WON’T be a starter? Or do you hire a manager with that question not yet settled? And either way, which pitcher do you first approach about an extension, Homer or Latos?

    Choo? Hamilton? Ludwick? I’m eager to see how all of this unfolds …

    • @vegastypo: I’d imagine part of the interview process would be finding out what the candidates think about Chapman’s future role. The GM may have a firm idea of his own or be open to hearing what each candidate has to say.

      Assuming Homer blew off Marty for a reason other than just wanting to get back with his teammates after two long interviews (that never did make sense, why would Homer initially agree to the interview if he was so peeved at MB?), it just means he didn’t want to do an interview. That’s a pretty low level of caring about something compared to letting it affect whether you sign a $75 million contract.

      • It was clear Homer blew off the interview b/c he did not want to talk to Marty.

        I think you are downplaying Homer’s dislike of Cincinnati. In the past few years Homer has publicly and/or privately issued strong complaints about (1) the Reds broadcasters; (2) the fans; and (3) GABP. I have no indication that his feelings have changed on those issues.

        @vegastypo: I’d imagine part of the interview process would be finding out what the candidates think about Chapman’s future role. The GM may have a firm idea of his own or be open to hearing what each candidate has to say. Assuming Homer blew off Marty for a reason other than just wanting to get back with his teammates after two long interviews (that never did make sense, why would Homer initially agree to the interview if he was so peeved at MB?), it just means he didn’t want to do an interview. That’s a pretty low level of caring about something compared to letting it affect whether you sign a $75 million contract.

        • @CaptainTonyKW: Considering Homer never said anything one way or another why he didn’t do the interview (and had agreed to it in the first place) I don’t know how you come to the conclusion that “it was clear” about anything. I’m not really sure what other comments you’re referring to that indicate Homer’s “strong dislike” for Cincinnati. But yeah, I do kind of discount all that stuff as fans/media speculation based on snippets.

          • Homer has complained about all three items in the media. Have heard him do the same (unsolicited–all three complaints) to a small group of folks (many of whom were Reds fans themselves).

            Personally, I think he is mostly off base and it is probably largely a matter of the “grass is always greener…” But in any event, my read is that these are strongly-held feelings. He’ll get paid regardless of where he signs, why not pick a place he enjoys (or thinks he will enjoy and be insulated from media criticism, fans that do not cheer loud enough, etc.).

            @CaptainTonyKW: Considering Homer never said anything one way or another why he didn’t do the interview (and had agreed to it in the first place) I don’t know how you come to the conclusion that “it was clear” about anything. I’m not really sure what other comments you’re referring to that indicate Homer’s “strong dislike” for Cincinnati. But yeah, I do kind of discount all that stuff as fans/media speculation based on snippets.

          • @CaptainTonyKW: Rule of thumb, fans are fans except in Houston where they are stalkers.

      • @Steve Mancuso: I have no idea whether Homer was really upset with Marty, or whether that would be a factor in his decision, but I don’t buy the reasoning that, because he hunts carnivores with bow and arrow, he isn’t bothered by criticism. Two entirely different issues.

  8. Trade Leake and Keep Homer if possible.

    I agree that 2014 at 9 mil is worth it. 2015, Stephenson should arrive.

    Yes Chapman to the rotation. Having a guy who has a 2.5 ERA throw 60 innings is a bad thing. Chapman has a good slider that buckles hitters. Maybe you don’t like his secondary pitch much tiberius, but a 98 mph fastball is a pretty good secondary pitch.

    Price has proven he can develop talented arms.

    Not starting Chapman is like catching Mesoraco once a week

    • @reaganspad: A couple of reasons to trade Leake: frees up a spot in rotation and you’re selling high on his value. Reasons not to: he’s young, on a very cheap contract and you might not get much back in return.

      I say keep Leake and let Bronson go. Transition Chapman to SP but begin him in AAA. Let him work on his pitches in AAA, limit his innings, and bring him up if/when someone gets hurt. Starting pitching looks like:


      And Chapman’s ready when someone gets hurt. Very serious health concerns with Cueto, and minor but legitimate concerns about Latos (elbow) and Cingrani (back)

      • @CincyGuy: I don’t trade Leake for exactly the reasons you stated (he’s young, on a cheap contract), plus if you move him out you now have 5 power arms in a rotation.

  9. I know Homer Bailey is top cat in your eyes. It had to be a bit painful for you to write this article. I want Homer to sign an extension in the worst way. He should be the opening day starter in 2014. But if he is not hip to Cincinnati or GABP, the Reds need to trade him this winter. The Reds need to give him a date to sign by, say Dec. 1, and if he doesn’t sign you know his intentions then. Then go into the Winter Meetings and strike the best deal you can.
    I’d much rather prefer to trade Cueto or Chapman.
    I like a rotation of Bailey/Latos/Chapman/Leake/Cingrani.
    Cueto has fizzled out badly at the end of last two seasons. I’d much rather not make it three.

  10. Great post. I took that article at face value when I read it, but your post has me reconsidering my original thoughts.

  11. Homer has made a sound business decision in not extending with the Reds so far. The dynamics of that decision-making process change every off-season, so maybe he still will re-up. I like his mechanics better than those of Latos, so I’d take him over Latos long-term, all things being equal, which they won’t be.

    I’d actually like to see them try a 6-man rotation next year, for at least part of the season. Cueto, Bailey, Chapman, Leake, Latos and Cingrani. (I couldn’t find “rest” splits, but didn’t look that hard. My memory, always suspect, is that most of them do better with the extra day.)

  12. There are so many options for this offseason, any specualtion is just…well, speculation, but I guess that’s the whole point of a blog. A significant catalyst to any and all off season transactions this year will be the decision regarding Chapman. After tha decision is completed, then value will drive any and all trades.

  13. I’d like a few more Manny Para type signings where we are all like “what are they thinking” and the guy turns out to be dominant. That would be swell.

    • @TC: While avoiding the Mike Lincoln’s.

    • @TC: I don’t agree that Parra was dominant but he did accomplish what I didn’t think he could do — be an effective LOOGY.

      • @Johnu1: I’m not sure if we watched the same pitcher. He wasn’t used as a LOOGY. He faced more righties than lefties. I was his biggest hater when he was signed, but here I am saying nice things because Manny was awesome for the bullpen. Look at his second half splits…. Here, I’ll help:

        30 innings (second half)
        Opponent BA .178
        Opponent OBP .265
        Opponent (s)OPS+ 46
        WHIP .944
        SO 26
        BB 8
        Total Bases Surrendered: 18

        His April was horrible and he barely pitched in the majors in May. But when he got back in June, he was dominant. There is no other way of putting it.

  14. @Steve Mancuso:

    I just can’t see the Reds trading Homer for prospects, especially right after firing a manager because they are desperate to win right now.

    I will take the other side of that debate. I think they would trade Bailey for a prospect haul, if they got the right package of prospects in return. There would have to be additional, offsetting transactions that would make the Reds equally competative in return (i.e. Choo is signed as a FA along with jetising Broxton’s salary). The Reds still need to look long-term as well as short-term.

  15. I agree with pretty much everything in this post. If the Reds trade Homer, it’s simply because they want to win more games in 2014 (and beyond). The Reds can’t get the same value as the Rays got for James Shields, simply b/c Bailey isn’t as good, but Homer still has a lot of value on the market. I wish the Reds could swing a Bailey for Profar-type trade, but the Reds are in a decent place with having extra pitchers to trade.

  16. Steve great article. I agree I would trade. Homer. See we can agree about something! I live here in Dallas, no mention here of Rangers being interested and they don’t have a bat to offer. They want D Price or the new Pitcher from Japan. Plus they really need two bats, losing Cruz and have a major hole at first base and catcher. They segments to be targeting McCann also.

    • @gschiller13: Not sure how you concluded that I’m in favor of trading Homer Bailey. I wouldn’t. My first preference would be to sign him to an extension. My second choice would be to hold on to him all year and try to negotiate with him at the end of the year. If no deal can be reached and the Reds lose him to free agency, so be it.

      • @Steve Mancuso: Steve, my apologies. Poor editing on my part before I hit send. I meant to say I agree with alot of what you said, but I would trade Homer. I didnt mean to convey that you advocated trading him. It was a great article.

  17. I think if the Reds can get Latos and Bailey signed for a few more years with the other starting pitching they got and some that are on the way, they are setup to be competitive for the long run.

    You just don’t get a chance to potentially lock up a couple of good power pitchers at this point in their careers.

  18. There is another possibility. Sometimes MLB gives a player a window to negotiate a contract extension with a potential new club before he is actually traded – and the trade only occurs if an extension can be agreed on first. If the Reds can find a partner and get approval from MLB, and Homer is actually interested in going to the new place, the Reds might get a better return. The down side is, if approval is given and things fall through, it is a very awkward situation.

  19. Don’t know where else to put this. Wainwright just had to get 6 outs in the 7th inning, thanks to Cardinals middle IF defense. They were scored as 3 IF hits.

  20. Homer and Bronson, as well as Latos, what to do with those three, that is going to be an interesting question. If all three were to come back, the Reds have 6+ major league ready starting pitchers. Trade bait? If not all three, who do we leave out? I can’t help thinking that Bailey will be the odd man out. I will agree Bailey has improved a lot over these last 2 seasons. But, I can’t help thinking Latos has more upside. Honestly, with Cueto’s injuries the last 2 seasons, or even if you could call it one long injury, I could almost see Cueto being let go and keeping Homer, Latos, and Arroyo. Like, maybe making that package for Stanton including Cueto in it. Cueto would prefer it down in Miami. With the warm weather, it would help his side stay warm.

    • @steveschoen: The other teams are well aware of Cueto’s injuries, though. I’d think that would make them cautious about trading impact players for him.

  21. There’s a very simple solution to this.

    Offer Bailey a multiyear deal, like 3-5 years.

    Negotiate hard to get him to agree to it.

    If he still shows no interest, you trade him and don’t think twice about it. It’s not worth the risk of one more year of Homer vs losing him for nothing.

  22. It seems to be the Reds are in no position to give up pitching. The top of their rotation looks like:

    1) Cueto
    2) Latos
    3) Bailey
    4) Leake
    5) Cingrani/Chapman

    Are we sure they can stretch out Cingrani or Chapman to go all year next year? Even so, they’re one injury away from catastrophe, especially if Stephenson isn’t ready.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but this seems to be a major risk, no?

    • @walshjp: I don’t think we have catastrophe. With the rotation you gave, only if it was to happen to Cueto or Latos would we need to worry. But, like Cingrani and Chapman as starters, both still unproven as starters, you could still bank on them being #5 guys. And, I just feel #5 guys are almost a dime a dozen. I mean, how much do you really expect out of your #5 guys? Maybe 10 wins? Maybe a 0.500 record? For many clubs, the #5 guys are a staff of like 5 pitchers playing for one spot in ST.

      If anything, I would be more worried about having a top level top 3 guys for post season work. Even though the Reds have gone with 4 starters for 5 game series, I would still have gone with 3 starters with the sole reasoning of short starts and lots of bullpen. I mean, it’s not unheard of in the post season for starters to work on 4 days rest. And, so, if injury, is Leake one we want to go with? Cingrani? Chapman as a starter?

      • @steveschoen: I guess my point is, can we even stretch those two out an entire season? What do we do in September if we have to shutdown Cingrani or Chapman in the final month of the season.

        It just seems to me there is no more help on the way. If/when Arroyo walks, you can’t trade Bailey, too, and rely on both Cingrani and Chapman in the rotations — neither of which has pitched a full major league season as a starter.


  23. On the managerial front, it looks like Scioscia and Girardi both went the available board today.

    I don’t really have any feelings about Price either way beyond that if he was seen as a slam dunk by the Reds he likely would have been announced almost simultaneously with Dusty’s departure.

    My sense is that Price may be the right man in the right place at the wrong time, by which I mean the new broom is likely to sweep a wide swath than just DB.

  24. It’s wrong to say that if the Reds don’t trade Homer Bailey that they’ll “get nothing” for him. Two reasons.

    First, they’d be getting another year of his pitching, contributing to their chances of winning the World Series in 2014. His arbitration-based salary would likely be well below his actual earned value.

    Second, the Reds would receive a sandwich compensation pick (sandwich means between the first and second rounds) in the following Draft.

    If the Reds can’t reach a long-term agreement with him, he still offers plenty of value playing his final season with the Reds.

    If you think the Reds should trade Bailey “to get something” for him, were you also for trading Shin-Soo Choo this year instead of letting him reach his free agency?

    • @Steve Mancuso:

      The Reds are in ‘win now’ mode, but that ‘win now’ window won’t be closed after next year.

      So keeping Homer for one year might help for next year only while it would hurt the Reds’ chances for the remainder of their ‘win now’ window if he left after next year. A sandwich pick? You want to give up Homer for a sammich?

      Whereas if you trade him, you could potentially get some very useful pieces who could help the team right away or in the very very near future.

      I repeat: if Homer doesn’t sign, trade him.

      • @CI3J: If the Reds are in “win now” mode, that may be because we put them there a bit. I would be more willing to see consistent above 500 ball than a WS title and then years of below 500 ball. Now, percentage-wise, even though we had that with Baker, and I was a consistent Baker critic, what I would want even more is a team who shows they want to play, want to win. Many have used playing with “a sense of urgency”. I never used that. I used playing with “a passion” or “an energy” for the game. Showing us the game is fun, playing with “a love of the game”, the same way it seems like the D-backs play, how the Pirates play, among several others. I believe I would rather see a team play like that and even have some below 500 seasons rather than how Baker’s teams played.

        In short, I believe we do and will have the players to win for quite a while (I do believe we need to look at restocking the farm system, or increase the number and/or quality of instructors in the farm system, build from within type of mode). I just hope they change the style of their play. I said a couple of years ago that I couldn’t see any “sense of urgency” back then, and people thought I was nuts. From what I saw, nothing changed since then, and everyone seemed to be talking about it now.

        • @steveschoen: I agree with you, but we are probably the only two people here who feel this way. It’s really hard to win a WS, even with a very good team, because there are other very good teams trying to do the same thing. I think our chances are increased by being good perpetually, though, as opposed to mortgaging the whole deal for an all-in one or two year shot. Also more fun to watch a good team, year after year. What you said.

          • @greenmtred: Exactly. That’s why after Ludwick made his statements that I almost believe the fans took on the personality of the manager as well as the players. Remember, Baker said he coaches for “a marathon”. Well, how would one coach a marathon? Without getting into idiosyncracies, I would think “slow and steady”, “nice and easy”, never really looking to get fired up. That’s how the players seemed to play to me, with the exception of when they were swinging wildly and blindly for the fences and getting twisted around on themselves. Well, that’s what Ludwick was talking about, also, how the fans were “slow and steady”, “nice and easy”, were never really fired up.

            Most simple example, remember the energy in the game when Hamilton came in? The fans started to get electric, because they knew what Hamilton meant, nothing slow and steady. Lots of speed, and very possibly lots of excitement.

          • @steveschoen: I took the view that Ludwick’s comments were a reflection of his frustration with the low-energy “mood”. He wanted some excitement, some spark, to rally his team’s energy, and he was desperately hoping the fans could provide it. So I didn’t see it as a rebuke of fans so much as an attempt to shake things up. To me it just supports the basic premise that Dusty’s regime repressed the team’s energy and focus.

      • @CI3J: I thought the definition of “sandwich pick” was pretty clear. Seems not. In any event, I think that would possibly yield another potential Puig.

        • @Johnu1:
          “Possibly” and “potential” being the key words.

          Bailey is a known commidity. If you trade him, you would get some known commodities in return. If you let him walk after one more year, do you really want to gamble and hope your pick can “yield another potential Puig”?

          I’m sorry, but a team like the Reds can’t afford to gamble much. Jocketty doesn’t strike me as that type either. Sure, you can hit the big time once in a long while, but more often than not, you’ll wind up with Brandon Larson or Ty Howington.

          • @CI3J: Yaaa … all teams gamble when they make trades for human beings. The advanced metrics they use on scouting now is a lot cleaner than it was 10 years ago. Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman are exactly who we thought they were.

            So is Cespedes and Puig. And Shelby Miller.

            Years ago, the Reds drafted “top picks” they knew they could sign cheap and pawned them off on the fans … which was why teams like the Reds and Parrots never got better. Their “top picks” were really “8th rounders” … we were just TOLD they were top picks.

          • @Johnu1:

            I don’t doubt that the Reds’ scouting has gotten much better, but no matter how good your scouting is, it isn’t foolproof.

            Plus, with the Reds having a window of about 5 years to win, do we have time to sit around and wait for whoever we draft in the “sandwich pick” to potentially develop and MAYBE replace Bailey’s production…. In 5 years or less?

            Whereas if we trade Bailey, we could potentially get pieces that would make up for the loss of Bailey in that same window.

            I hope they can sign Bailey to a long term deal. But if he refuses, trading him seems like the much safer bet than hoping your sadwich draft picks pan out.

          • @CI3J: It wouldn’t just be hoping the draft pick works out. Not trading Bailey would also be putting value on what he could offer in 2014. Just like we put value on what Choo could provide in one year and didn’t trade him. Bailey could easily make the difference in winning the division or not next year. You can’t make every decision based strictly on the future.

          • @Steve Mancuso:

            That’s why I said if you trade him, you can get pieces that will at least partially make up for his production in 2014 and beyond.

            The way I see it is this. Home had a 3.2 WAR. Le’s say next year he puts up a 4.0 WAR. But he refuses to sign long term. So now in 2015, you have lost that production with no immediate replacement.

            Now let’s say you trade Bailey and get two players back who both put up a 2.0 WAR. In simplistic theory, you’ve already replaced Bailey’s production, plus have ensured that same replacement for the next year and the year after.

            If Homer won’t sign long term, you have to trade him. It’s not worth one more year of him to suddenly have no answer for that lost production the next year. Small clubs like the Reds must be proactive, playing for both today and tomorrow. They simply can’t go shopping to replace their players whenever they feel like it.

          • @CI3J: You keep discounting the value of 2014. If Homer has a 4.0 WAR next year, there’s a good chance he was part of a really good team, that may have gone far into the postseason. “Pieces” that will “partially” make up for his production are, by definition, a drop off.

            I’m not saying don’t trade him for an impact bat in 2014. I said that kind of trade makes sense in the original post. My objection to what you were saying was your initial characterization that if the Reds didn’t trade Homer they would “lose him for nothing.” I just wanted to point out that his value in 2014 pitching for the Reds was not nothing. It was something, and possibly something quite important.

            I’ve brought up the analogy to Shin-Soo Choo a few times. I guess you thought the trade was “not worth one year” of him instead of having the “partial” “pieces” of Stubbs and Didi for several years.

            Holding Bailey for 2014 would be part of an overall strategy to play for today and tomorrow. You don’t have to squeeze both out of every single player. In that circumstance, Homer would be an aspect of the “today” part of it. Other parts, like signing Latos and others, long-term would be the tomorrow.

          • @Steve Mancuso:

            I never commented on Choo because his is a completely different situation that has nothing to do with Homer. He was signed as a stopgap solution with the notion that Billy Hamilton was not quite ready.

            The idea was Choo would hold down a position that the Reds already have a solution for, just that solution is not quite ready yet. He was signed with the idea of being a “rental” because there was no better option and he gave the Reds the best chance to win now without surrendering anything for their immediate future.

            Whereas if we keep Homer and he doesn’t sign, he may help the Reds win now, but once the Reds lose him, he would severely negatively impact their future since they could have traded him for useful pieces instead of losing him for a measly sandwich pick that may or may not pan out.

            As I said, Choo’s situation is completely different and has nothing to do with Homer Bailey. The only thing they have in common is they should follow a similar theme: put yourself in the best position to win now while also putting yourself in the best position to win in the future as well.

            Keep Homer Bailey when he refuses to sign would only accomplish one of those goals.

          • @CI3J: Replacing a 4.0 WAR player with two 2.0 WAR players isn’t the same thing. The two player take up an extra roster spot. Presumably, the second player who are you replacing with those 2.0 WAR players (Frazier? Cozart?) would be earning something. Cozart earned 2.1 last year, Frazier 3.3. Those two 2.0 players would come nowhere near replacing the value of a top ten starting pitcher.

          • @Steve Mancuso:

            So would you rather replace him with a 0.0 WAR? Because that’s what you would be looking at if he refuses to sign and walks next year.

            If he doesn’t sign, you trade him. At least you can get SOMETHING instead of nothing. Holding onto him for one more year when he refuses to sign makes no sense.

            Sure, you can win now, but at what cost to the future?

  25. Bailey is on the cusp of being elite, I just don’t know if I’d trade him. He could easily win 15 games and have an ERA around 3 next year. That production would be difficult to replace.

    • @Jason1972: I understand, Jason. But, then, it would cost a ton of money to keep him after next season if he did to that. To where, odds are, we lose him to FA after next season and get nothing more than another draft pick. So, one year of a possibility? Or, something we can fill another hole on this team with that could work in the longer term? Or, can we extend Homer some more years?

      • @steveschoen: Gambling on filling a hole by trading a pitcher for a left fielder … playing too far into the future will get you 4th place, which is only slightly more painful than a play-in game. Left fielders should not be hard to find, though one wonders with the plethora of somebodys we’ve had out there since Dunn left.

        Bailey is not Greinke.

        • @Johnu1: His peripherals have been approaching equal to or better than Greinke’s.

        • @Johnu1: Left fielders aren’t hard to find. But, neither are pitchers. Now, pitchers who have had Bailey’s success 2 years in a row is harder to find, aka a pitcher on the cusp of greatness. But, then, so would left fielders on the cusp of greatness. As well as, either position “on the cusp” of greatness would take a lot of money to keep, or we lose them in FA.

          So, again, the questions are:

          1) Do we extend Homer?
          2) Do we trade Homer and not risk losing something to FA, trying to fill another hole on the team?
          3) Do we let Homer go to FA and get a draft pick?

          I can’t help thinking, if the right package comes along, pull the trigger. Seriously, I wouldn’t even mind if we trade Votto off. But, the question so many people forget, what will we get back? Two draft picks? I would never trade Votto for that. Two consistent and still young All-Stars who could play for us right now who would cost half of Votto? That could give me an itchy trigger finger. (Before all Votto lovers start harassing, I wouldn’t look to trade Votto. But, I would look at all packages offered, not only what we lose, but what we get, also).

  26. I also read today that Paul O’Neill has said is part of the managerial interview mix.

    • @Johnu1: Interesting. Also, Girardi has signed a 4-year deal with the Yankees, so at least we don’t have to speculate about him anymore. Not that he would be a bad fit, I just didn’t ever see it as a real possibility with the Yanks and Cubs both wanting him.

  27. I think the Reds can trade Bailey and still compete for this year and beyond. But I think that trading Bailey would have to be a part of a well orchestrated plan, and it would mean Chapman would have to start. If I can play GM for a bit, I would consider trading Bailey for a significant upgrade at 3B, SS, or 2B (in that order). If the Reds can find a willing partner that will offer a young, controllable bat to man either of those positions (all of which were below league average last year) then I would pull the trigger in conjunction with other moves.

    The first of which, must be re-signing Choo. Without his bat, and top of the order presence the Reds offense is in a very rough state. So, re-signing Choo is top priority of the winter. Then if Bailey is traded you begin to piece together the remaining moves based on who is brought back in return. My preference would be to obtain a 3B and allow Super Todd to be a Super Sub. In this instance you have drastically improved the bench and the line up.

    I would explore what I could get in return for Phillips. If someone was willing to give up good prospects, it might be worth it to look into it, especially if you could net a solid P prospect (SP or top end BP help) If that’s the case then I see if it’s possible to sign the Cuban 2B Guerrero. But Phillips being traded would not be contingent on the other moves, just something I would explore, and it could help in gaining rotation depth.

    Then in AAA you could have depth with Chad Rogers, Daniel Corcino (if he can regain his control…he was a top 100 pitching prospect at one point) and what ever reclamation journeyman starter the Reds can give a chance to, like Gallaraga or Reynolds this year, and Francis the year before. Is it ideal depth? No, but likely serviceable as depth, until mid-season, at which point Stephenson would likely be in-line for a mid-season call up if absolutely needed.

    On a side note, I would also look into creative ways to get maximize Choo, Ludwick, and Hamilton’s strengths and use them all in a platoon/rotation. I think it could be done by giving Ludwick days off against tough righties, Choo days off against tough lefties, and then utilizing Hamilton as a PR and defensive replacement in CF (sliding Choo to LF which would improve the defense all around). I would still give Ludwick and Choo the majority of the starts (especially Choo). But getting Hamilton 2-3 starts a week and using him regularly as a later inning weapon should be enough to keep him sharp. Plus it would significantly upgrade the bench.

    • @hotto4votto: Agree regarding Choo. He was a top 5 hitter in the NL this year. That would be virtually impossible to replace. I also like the idea of some sort of triple platoon, with Choo playing the vast majority of games, and Hamilton getting eased in and being used as a running threat as well.

      I could live with the idea of trading Bailey, assuming that signing him looks unlikely and we have some sort of plan at SP, whether it’s Chapman or a mid range free agent.

      Agree that if the Reds really want to make a splash, a good way to do that is to replace one of Cozart or Frazier. I really like those guys and having 1 in the lineup is passable, but both is tough.

      One thought on BP (not that I’m as adamant about trading him as everyone else seems to be) but what about the Dodgers? Endless money, and no clear star at 2B. Plus he loves their swag!

  28. This thread is pretty worked over but I’m just gonna throw out a couple thoughts.

    People talked about whether trading Bailey is a “win now” move or a “restock” move, and how it compares to what the Rays do.

    The Rays are a unique team. They started the “sign your future superstars to long-term, team-friendly deals before they even have a major league at bat/inning pitched” fad. They trade pitchers who are going to make 10MM the next year, even if they are “worth it”, because they are so cash strapped that if they don’t trade guys at or near peak value, BEFORE they make even close to market value, they don’t continue to compete. And the key, is that they spent several years stock piling the farm system, so that their pipeline has a constant flow of young, talented players that can contribute at the major league level.

    The Reds are not in that spot, and while I try not to think about it and just enjoy where we are now, I do wonder where we’ll be in 4-5 years, when our young guys aren’t so young, and we’ve lost some people to free agency, and Votto is in his mid-30s, and the metaphorical window is closing.

    Of course, the Rays strategy is one end of the spectrum, just like the Yankees of the 2000s decade are on the other end. Each team can find somewhere in the middle that works for them. The key for the Reds is what happens to the payroll, and are they proactive enough to sign/trade guys when they need to.

    Getting back to Bailey… I do not think trading him is a “win now” move. At all. It’s an attempt to get a little more out of him than we otherwise would if he walks after next year. I think both strategies could be successful depending on what else is done this offseason. I think my 3rd choice would be to stand pat (after (1) signing him, and (2) trading him).

    • @Aaron Lehr: And, some of this could even be “Sign the players to favorable contracts, then trade them”.

      I hope it will be an interesting off season. I don’t want an entire house cleaning. Just a couple of moves, improve the club, improve the organization, etc. But, in what respect? Trades? FA? Increasing the instructor core in the minor leagues, getting those to develop more, aka build up the minor league system? Bring in known commodities with known reps for manager and hitting instructor? It has all the potential of “Who Shot JR?” I just hope we aren’t treated to another “Gilligan’s Island” rerun, aka another disappoint of no move (off the island, that is).

  29. I’ve said this before, but I think that the Reds should look to the Rays organization in regards to how they build their teams. Everyone knows they’re trading Price this offseason, just like most people thought they’d trade Shields last offseason. If they Reds could get similar value out of a Bailey trade, I’d say go for it. The same goes with a Phillips trade (which I honestly think should happen even if it’s for a couple upper midlevel prospects–sign Guerrero).

  30. Good summary Steveschoen:

    I would say that the rule for any trade is did you make the team better? One season fixes don’t cut at as we saw this year.

    I have always been a Stubbs fan. Frustrating at times but a world of talent.

    For Choo & his 285 average 107 Runs 54 RBIs 20 SB’s 11 Caught stealing 423 OBP we gave
    Stubbs and his 233 average 59 runs 45 RBIs, 17 SB’s, 2 Caught Stealing 305 OBP

    Did we improve our team? I would say not as our defense was worse, and we gave up Didi.

    for 48 runs and 9 RBIs, we gave up Didi who had 47 runs and 28 RBIs.

    Didi would have been a better player to have than Izturas, and would allowed us to move Frazer to Left Field this year for instance. The cost would have been less, and we still would have had both players going into 2014

    • @reaganspad: I would agree that Didi on the bench was better than Izturis, but the tradeoff for Choo and Stubbs was not insignificant. Stubbs just can’t hit … or hasn’t learned how to get coaching to help him.

    • @reaganspad: There is virtually no way that Choo didn’t improve the 2013 Reds. You are looking at counting stats in complete isolation. Choo’s wRC+ of 150 was elite and indicates how he creates runs for the entire team. Like Votto, getting on base has a spillover effect to everyone behind him. Which is why guys like BP and Bruce had above average counting stat seasons despite BP having the worst season of his career and Bruce having another typical Bruce year.

      Stubbs is an underrated defender but his defense doesn’t even come close to covering the gap. Choo had an amazing offensive season and shouldn’t be undersold.

  31. While I have always been in favor of Chapman being a starter, I think it was obvious after this spring, that not only did Dusty want him as the closer, Chapman himself wants to remain in that role.

    I think the starting ‘ship’ for Chapman has ‘sailed’, observing from afar, I don’t think he would adjust to the role and would want to stay as the closer.

  32. I disagree blakey. Chapman wants to be a star, and #1 starter have more star power (and make more money) than relievers do. Your manager telling you I need you as my closer when you don’t speak the language and are new to the game are huge in Chapmans case.

    This isn’t Mike Leake coming out of ASU and starting for the Reds.

    Since you cannot get maximum value for chapman, and he is a talent, I do not trade him.
    I trade those who I can maximize, like 14 game winner Mike Leake. 14-7 pitching in Great American Ballpark with a 3.3 ERA and team control for 2 years

  33. It may have been said, and I apologize if it was, but I think Mike Leake is the guy you trade. There are two trades I will push all winter. Leake for Aoki (a cheap suitable alternative to Choo) and Hamilton, Travieso and Corcino for Price.

    1. Price
    2. Latos
    3. Cueto
    4. Cingrani
    5. Bailey

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.


2014 Reds, Homer Bailey, Reds - General


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