2018 Reds

Cincinnati Reds beat Eugenio Suarez in salary arbitration

According to reports:

And according to the AP:

The Cincinnati Reds won their salary arbitration case against infielder Eugenio Suarez, who gets a raise from $595,000 to $3.75 million rather than his request for $4.2 million.

Arbitrators Mark Burstein, Jeanne Wood and James Darby made the decision Tuesday, a day after hearing arguments.

Suarez has been Cincinnati’s starting third baseman the past two years after switching from shortstop. He .260 last season and set career highs with 26 homers and 82 RBIs on a team that finished last in the NL Central at 68-94.

First of all, I can’t believe that Suarez actually lost his case in the arbitration hearing. Suarez was a dynamo in 2017, hitting .260/.367/.461 with 26 home runs, 82 runs batted in, and absolutely gorgeous defense at the hot corner. (That’s third base, for the less-seasoned persons among you.) He was good for 4.1 fWAR in his age-25 season. That’s good. The future is bright.

On the other hand, let’s not shed too many tears for Suarez. After all, he’s getting a huge raise, even if it’s one that he earned. I’m glad to see that he’ll be getting paid a salary that is closer to what he’s actually worth (even if it’s still less than he could earn on the open market). I’m also glad that Suarez will be a Cincinnati Red in 2018. He’s very good at playing baseball.

Anecdotally, we always hear that teams want to avoid these arbitration hearings because they can, occasionally, cause hard feelings between player and management. There have been no reports of such a rift opening up between Suarez and the Redlegs, and there’s no reason to jump to that particular conclusion. But it bears watching, since Eugenio is one of the guys that I would really like to see the Reds try to lock up to a long(ish)-term contract.

Next up: the Reds will go to arbitration with Scooter Gennett. Since he’s now a Reds legend (with a chapter devoted to him in a fascinating upcoming book), it’ll be interesting to see how that hearing goes.

30 thoughts on “Cincinnati Reds beat Eugenio Suarez in salary arbitration

  1. Ask Gerrit Cole if players forget about teams nickel-and-diming them when they have no say. He made it so the Pirates had to sell him for .75 cents on the dollar, or risking losing him eventually in free agency.

    Good organizations avoid the hearing and try to do somewhat right by the player, like the Astros avoiding arb and signing George Springer to the guaranteed money of 2 yrs for 24M.

    Actually, this feels like the Reds know Suarez most likely won’t sign an extension. A team would not risk the extension talks over 450K.

    His only prime competition in FA in 2021 at 3B is Jake Lamb. He could certainly be the better all-around player of the two by then, if he isn’t already.

    • Remember this is also a business.
      the 400K difference this year, will be tacked on to a higher arbitration figure next year.
      Now is the time to get a 60 year 50 mil contract.

      • I like Suarez as much as the next guy, but I’m not willing to sign him to a 60-year contract. Votto, on the other hand…

          • Actually, I agree, if you can get him for his career for $50 million, I am okay with a 60 year contract.

  2. I do wonder what the Reds’ game is here. Even if there are no hard feelings between Suarez and the Reds after this, why even take that risk? A team that is worth millions (or is it billions now?) really wants to risk potential years of future success and the revenue that would bring over 450 thousand dollars?

    With Scooter, yeah, I don’t care, haggle over the money all you want, he’s not going to be part of the next great Reds team. But they were playing with fire to potentially risk creating negative feelings with Suarez over what, for them, is a pretty small sum of money.

    • Welllll…….yes, -but- with a proviso.

      Remember the earlier statement from Williams when asked about negotiating a long-term extension. i.e. “it takes -two- to negotiate”. The question is: how much of this is Suarez -personally-, how much of it is push from his agent (and, yes, both factors are probably at play)? Suarez may be happy, maybe not, but it’s the agent who must be moved off center.

      If the agent is being sufficiently stoneface, the -only- way to open up a dialogue may have been to signal via a win in arbitration – which management now has. It also helps to set a lower initial offer for any- such deal.

      Standing back from the individual, there may also be something of a larger dynamic going on here if we look at the recent slow activity generally in FA. First of all, a significant (and increasing?) number of FA deals have been busts, which indicates that veteran talent may be intrinsically overpriced and that the slow, steady route of internal development may provide better long-term return. Second, as has been noted here (Steve?) that the new, rising generation of GM’s are more analytical, more precise, more in tune with financial analysis (Moneyball, perfected). Third, I’m taking a -very- long-term view here and wondering if the owners are starting to wonder whether they’ve reached peak cash in media contracts and technology trends and that the future may not be as remunerative as most people think … so it’s time to be more disciplined generally in payroll

      What’s the consensus here? What is Suarez actually worth contractually via modern metrics and with knowledge of (a) what we have in the pipeline, (b) supply/demand at this position (note Frazier’s “disappointing” deal with the Mets) and (c) modern valuation metrics? What would your initial offer be to make sense?

  3. I agree with the previous comments that it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense for the team to go to the mat over significantly less than the minimum MLB salary. I also agree that sometimes it seems like the sides use arbitration figures to send messages about negotiation positions on long term deals.

    Given the politcal unrest and economic chaos in Saurez’s native Venezuela, I’d think he would be looking for the security of a long term deal to set himself well in the USA.

  4. I definitely don’t have enough information about the state of negotiations with Suarez and his agent to speculate about the effect this may have on efforts to extend Suarez. I can only hope that since the arbitration figures are generated independently, the fact that the Reds offer was pretty close to Suarez’ request will avoid any strongly negative response. But regardless of all that I still believe DW and the Reds need to be pushing for an extension. Here’s hoping Suarez and his agent are also interested in the same end result.

    • Same here. As a fan, I -really- want Suarez, at least through the medium-term. That would imply 3-4 year contract, ($4.5/5.5/6.5/optional 7 with performance or WAR-based adjustment?) Can I see him in Reds uniform past 29-30. No, not really — that’s where the sober side of business reality kicks in. The underlying premise is that, while nominal dollar values may continue to increase, the Reds will continue to be disadvantaged in -relative- capability compared to the bigger clubs and thus not be able to compete in the -next- contract. Three or four gives the most flexibility –
      (a) if he’s strong out of the gate, you can try to tack on extra time.
      (b) as long as he doesn’t flame out, you have maximized trade value in the second/third year of the contract, when he’s compensated below WAR
      (c) Not locked in if, say, Senzel is the next Joey Votto or the pipeline produces a replacement.
      (d) At some point, emotion notwithstanding, there has to be an upper limit on his value to the club, in context.

      And, besides, the old Arsenal FC rule – do not give players over age 30 multi-year contracts. Ever.

      Now, if I were -really- Scrooge McDuck, I’d only adjust for WAR differential Suarez vs Senzel, but that would be nasty…………

  5. I’m wondering if we see a 3-year deal (including this year or maybe even a 4-year deal) during Spring Training. This seems like a starting point to me.

  6. I’d like to see the Reds and Suarez find common ground on an extension. Something in the 5 year range, maybe an option Year on there. The price points I read earlier in the offseason didn’t seem unreasonable. Maybe the slow developing FA market will push Suarez and his agent into wanting to find some security rather than risk a cold market.

    Otherwise, if that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, the Reds would need to start entertaining trade offers for him. With an up and coming 3B prospect on the cusp and plenty of quality 2B options Suarez may end up being a valuable and somewhat expendable trade chip to bring back real value.

    My preference is to keep him around to be part of the next core, but short of an extension before next season, the Reds need to keep their options open.

  7. Overall, this doesn’t seem to be a huge issue. I don’t see Suarez and the kind of guy to hold a grudge against the Reds for $400k, but it does raise questions about the negotiation of an extension. It is possible he/his agent is demanding more money than the Reds want to pay, leading to this arbitration case. It is also possible there are some hurt feelings and he will be leaving in a few years. Either way this sets a starting point for any extension discussions going forward.

    I think the bigger story is going to be the next CBA. The use of analytics and seemingly unwillingness to sign veterans to massive contracts based on past performance, I see the players asking for more money in the early years. On the other side owners don’t want to give up the all star production for league minimum salary. There seems to be a big battle brewing

  8. Given that the Reds haven’t gone to arbitration in, what, over a decade and the relatively small difference between their offer and Suarez’s- bit of a surprise they couldn’t come to terms. But I agree with the general sentiment in the comments above; owners are being much more cautious with their long-term deals. Especially small market teams.

  9. Wasn’t there a report about a month ago from Sheldon or one of the Enquirer writers that Suarez was seeking a deal in the neighborhood of 6 years and $54MM??
    That is right about what the Reds did with Jay Bruce.
    Lock Suarez up with such a deal. Yes this year, this winter. Five or 6 years is no problem for the Reds.
    Look at a very close comparable. Seattle’s Kyle Seager. Suarez’s 2017 season closely resembles Seager’s last pre-arb season. Seager signed a 7 year $100MM deal with Seattle after his pre-arb years going into the 2015 season. Maybe it isn’t the money environment it was then, but Suarez could warrant that type of money next year after another good season. Supposedly, the free agent money is going to flow a little more freely next winter, and so then will extension money.
    I’d get a deal done this year before spring training or during spring training while the money momentum is on the owners side.
    Of course, Suarez and his agent know this too. But if he is on record saying that a 6yr./$54MM will get his signature, do it now.
    If the Reds go this year without signing an extension with Suarez, and he has a good or even better season, the price next year will be more hefty. All Suarez’s agent has to say is Kyle Seager money, and probably rightfully so.

    • At that price, I could live with five – although I might start actively shopping him in year four. .

      -If-

      Keep in mind that he -is- under team control for now. Could see a deal in ST or even out around mid-season. Would help if he came out of the blocks as strong as last season.

      Thanks for pointing out the Seager figures. Provides a good reality check as to what fair market value might be.

    • Here’s a thought to chew on. Maybe the Reds long term interest in Suarez depends on whether Nick Senzel can play at the MLB level somewhere besides 3B.

      Senzel appears to be an unstoppable force who will play regardless. If it turns out that needs to be 3B for defensive reasons, Suarez becomes the man on the bubble. Suarez was dicey at SS; he has established himself as a solid 3B and offense producer. He is devalued if he is taken off of 3B and struggles playing another position. Thus perhaps it better for the Reds to wait a year to see what Senzel does positions other than 3B.

      • That was one of the considerations when I originally proposed 3-4 duration. Under what conditions does Suarez become an expendable or, at least, marketable product. Depends on what else the pipeline produces -after- Senzel.

      • Jim: Good thoughts. I’ve been opposed to moving Suarez to short, but there is this: He struggled at short, yes, but he also struggled at third initially. Optimally, Senzel is adept at a position(s) other than 3rd, but if he isn’t, I wouldn’t bet the house that Suarez can’t hack it a short or second.

        • I was hard on Suarez at SS and rightfully so but it wasn’t a lack of talent just like 3rd initially!!! His struggle s at SS and at 3rd was more nerves IMO!! The complete lack of a hitter in the middle of the IF makes Saurez look like HOF material to me!

    • I think 6 years/$54MM would have been a little light prior to the 2018 contract. A more realistic 6 year contract, including the 2018 season, may have been $60MM, but it’s possible that a $54MM contract would have been acceptable to both parties.

      With the 2018 season now under contract, a 6 year extention would probably look like $65MM to $69MM while a 5 year extention probably look like $53MM to $57MM.

      • Jim and Shchi,

        Interesting points.

        Those are the kind of thoughts that Dick Williams should be asked about and it is completely ignored by the lapdog Enquirer coverage. Maybe Rosecrans will bring it stronger with The Athletic…or maybe blogs should be given press credentials (LOL).

        If the Reds try Senzel at 3B, teams will sense Reds are distressed sellers on Suarez, and lowball their offers or wait until he is a free agent.

        Suarez turns 27 this baseball season. A 6-year deal is his one big payday, if he signs an extension, given this off-season and the turn to youth. How does his agent value the signing away of his client’s big free agent payday?

        Sure feels like a chess match. There were only 38 position players last season in all of MLB with 4 WAR or higher. They don’t grow on trees.

        • Assuming WAR is an all-encompassing vehicle for measuring a player. He had a jump in the number of times on base during last season. But his batting average didn’t correspondently spike as well. I would not feel inclined to throw a ton money at him with Senzel looming. This fact is likely not lost on the Reds Mgmt.

          • I see the reasoning in not wanting to pay Suarez more than $4-5MM per season with Senzel available to replace Suarez for less than $1MM per season.

            Unfortunately, with that reasoning, the Reds never get better than what they are right now and eventually start getting worse when a productive Votto disappears from the equation. In order to become more productive, the Reds need to add new production to their existing production, not just rep[lace their existing production with new production. Suarez and Senzel in the lineup together is much more productive than just Suarez or just Senzel.

          • That is if Reds Management only looked at batting average, which Suarez had a .012 increase. However, I don’t think that is all they look at. Suarez’s OBP was up by .050, his SLG% was up by .050, his OPS “spiked” by .100, his wRC+ “spiked” from 94 to 117, and his RE24 “spiked” from 6.55 to 18.79. These facts are also not likely lost on the Reds Management and their new affinity for analytics.
            And of course the defensive metrics had “spiked” up too.
            I’d throw some coin Suarez’s way.

      • I had the money numbers backwards, which is even better for the Reds.
        “Eugenio Suarez would want an extension of at least six years and worth more than $45MM in guaranteed money, a source tells Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer.”

        https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/eugenio-suarez
        Scroll down to the third article.

        With this year signed for, I wouldn’t go more than 5 years now. Two arb-eligible years and 3 free agent years. Maybe just 2 years of free agent years, his 2 arb. years, and re-write terms for 2018 maybe with a signing bonus. I wouldn’t want to go longer than that. At Suarez’s age, 5 years or maybe even 6 years would be just about right.

        • The article refrences wanting MORE than $45MM for 6 years, prior to his arbitration award for 2018. The ‘more than’ refrence leaves a LOT of ambiguity regarding any real contract negotiations, but…

          If the Reds did have a chance to lock up Suarez for anything close to $45MM for 6 tears and whiffed on the negotiation, I see little to no hope for their future with the existing core players and existing management/ownership group.

        • Agree with you on the years . With the farm system getting better and better who knows who could be knocking on the door in 3 years. Long? Move Senzel to 3rd then and trade Suarez in 3 or 4 years for a SS or whatever. It’s tough losing right now but I like where they are headed if these guys come through.

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