The Reds and Raisel Iglesias announced a new salary agreement this afternoon in the amount of $24.125 million covering the pitcher’s final three seasons with the Reds. It buys out three years of Iglesias’ arbitration. The contract does NOT add an extra year to his time with the Reds. 

Iglesias, who turns 29 before Opening Day, had signed a multi-year deal with the Reds back in June, 2014. It stipulated his salary through the 2020 season. It gave Iglesias the right to choose arbitration once he qualified, which he did this year on the basis of his 3.154 years of major league service time. By the terms of the 2014 deal, Iglesias was scheduled to make $5.7 million in 2019 and 2020. The Reds closer would have certainly requested arbitration this year instead of taking the $5.7 million.

Even though the final season with an agreed upon salary in the 2014 deal was for 2020, Iglesias was still bound by the major league collective bargaining agreement to stay with the Reds through six years of service time. So Iglesias would have remained under Reds team control in the 2021 even without the new contract announced today. Iglesias remains eligible for free agency in 2022, the same as before.

You wonder if the Reds (or Iglesias, for that matter) looked to add years. Maybe both sides were content with this duration. 

That question aside, what should we make of the deal?

 It provides the Reds a degree of budget certainty with Iglesias. If the pitcher stays healthy and productive the next two seasons, the deal probably costs the Reds less money than they would have paid in three separate years of arbitration. Players give up money for certainty at this stage of their careers. 

 It gives Iglesias more economic security. In the 2014 agreement, he was only guaranteed $10 million more. If he had suffered a shoulder injury or become unproductive, Iglesias could have become a non-tender candidate in 2021 or sooner under the arbitration system. The new deal means Iglesias is now guaranteed $24 million over the next three years regardless of how healthy or productive he stays. 

This intersection of interests is why deals like this are relatively easy to do. But neither of those outcomes matter much to the Reds on the field or to the team’s fans. What is important is whether the deal makes the Reds more or less likely to trade Raisel Iglesias.

If the Reds become less interested in trading Iglesias, Reds fans should look on the deal as a profound negative. Once the Reds decided Iglesias’ shoulder prevented his return to the starting rotation, and Iglesias proved he was a capable closer, the team should have been looking to trade him. I made a detailed case for that last May. 

Iglesias’ new contract doesn’t fundamentally change that calculus. Although if the deal makes Iglesias a little more attractive to the Reds, it would make the pitcher more appealing to trade partners for the same reasons.

But here’s what is meaningful that has changed: the manager, the pitching coach and the math. 

Yes, the Reds should still be looking to make Iglesias the cornerstone of a trade to return an impact starting pitcher. But the rapidly shifting strategic currents in major league baseball are narrowing the value gap between starters and relievers. Depending, that is, on how those pitchers are used. 

Manager David Bell and pitching coach Derek Johnson may see Raisel Iglesias as an irreplaceable piece of the puzzle. Iglesias is a perfect fit for the kind of pitcher who throws more than one inning, facing the opposing lineup once, whether at the start, middle or end of a close game. Bryan Price and Jim Riggleman often talked about using Iglesias in new ways, but didn’t follow through. Maybe the new dugout brain trust will. 

President of Baseball Operations, Dick Williams hinted at that today when he said this about the new deal: “David and Derek will spend time with Raisel over the winter. This is a guy who loves to pitch. He loves to appear frequently. He loves to appear in multiple innings if possible. He enjoys the back of the game. But he enjoyed starting. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with. The more we see an elite arm like this, the better off we are as a team.”

Bottom line: You trade the Raisel Iglesias who pitches 68 innings in a traditional closer role. But you might want to hold on to the Raisel Iglesias who pitches 90-100 high-leverage innings. That’s a much closer call. $8 million a year isn’t nothing, even if he throws 100 innings. It’s hard to say yet how much value the one-time-through pitchers can provide and how difficult those guys will be to find. 

Whether Bell and Johnson can flip Iglesias’ calculus remains to be seen. The Milwaukee Brewers, where Derek Johnson worked prior to his new gig, were at the forefront of new tactics in deploying pitchers. Even they still used a closer.

To be sure, major league front offices are operating in a new strategic world. But the Reds must continue to take seriously the idea that Raisel Iglesias might offer the most value to the team in a trade, new contract included. 

Steve grew up in Cincinnati 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. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce’s 2010 homer and Homer Bailey’s 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 43 Comments

  1. Steve,
    What trade would you propose?
    Maybe him, and Nick to get Noah

    Reply
    • It’s a good and tough question. I haven’t made a rigorous search. Initial thoughts …

      Iglesias is a three-year time horizon, not a prospect like Taylor Trammel who has 6+ years of major league service left. So you have to find a team that is looking for a near-term payoff, not one that’s rebuilding. And that team has to have an excess of starting pitchers. Cleveland strikes me as a possible match, although they made an Iglesias-style pickup of Brad Hand at the trade deadline. They might want more. An organization like the Mets might be a fit if they feel their fans won’t tolerate a 6-year window.

      Reply
      • Boston could lose Kimbrel. How about Iglesias for Benintendi he says unrealistically.

        Reply
        • Benintendi in CF would be great; however, this is the Cincinnati Reds were talking about. The FO doesn’t believe in bold moves.

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    • Perhaps he’ll be the Reds Hader

      Reply
  2. Good read on this. I had similar thoughts when I read about it.

    Always Be trading Closers. Just look at Kimbrel and Jansen a month ago. The price per inning in the quest for the next Mariano Rivera is too sterp.

    Reply
  3. Iglesias stays. This pays him for being a good pitcher and highest leverage bullpen arm instead of worrying about archaic relief man save stats.

    Meet the Reds new Josh Hader.

    Reply
    • Excellent point. Makes it easy for Iglesias to buy into non-traditional usage since it will not effect his pay the next three years.

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  4. Hmmmm, this is verrry interesting. We have a PC who was familiar with some of the ‘new metrics’ in the pitching world. Could we see Iggy become a 1 or 2 inning starter as part of a bullpen day? Part of a closer committee? Or have the Reds actually come out of the ‘Dark Ages’ and come up with something so innovative we haven’t even thought of it yet!

    The man could certainly be highly valuable…either as a trade piece or something else. Can’t wait to see what happens! Especially if he is still around by the start of Spring Training!

    Reply
  5. Interesting tweet from Joe Danneman:

    “Dick Williams says #Reds will be discussing the best way to maximize Raisel Iglesias. Don’t want to label him as just a closer. “(David Bell) wants the flexibility to be able to use him whenever the situation calls for it.””

    Will be interesting to see if Reds and Bell follow through on talks to use Iglesias more creatively. Heck, maybe he could even be an opener like Tampa did.

    Reply
  6. I like the idea of using Iglesias in multiple innings and not only at the end of the game.

    Reply
  7. Thanks for the post, Steve.

    Not to contradict anything written, just adding this data point…..

    Someone (maybe an opposing team broadcaster) mentioned that Iglesias was “a 9th inning guy only.”

    That came back to me reading this, and small sample size alert and alll…he wasn’t as effective in the 8th as the 9th.

    Igelsias

    7th inning
    2017 – no innings pitched
    20t8 — no innings pitched

    8th inning
    2017 – 20.1 IP / WHIP 1.18 / xFIP 4.64
    2018 – 11.2 IP / WHIP 1.63 / xFIP 4.89

    9th inning
    2017 – 52 IP / WHIP 1.06 / xFIP 2.73
    2018 – 54 IP / WHIP 0.87 / xFIP 2.98

    (All pulled from FanGraphs Splits Tool)

    Reply
    • Interesting. Small 8th inning sample tho. Also, don’t know if when he comes in in the 8th if he also pitches 9th (in which case maybe he paces himsel). Maybe, since the 8th comes first, maybe he didn’t get enuff warm up OR, he more often faces the lower part of the lineup in the 9th OR when he comes in in the 8th, there are runners on base.

      Reply
  8. If the goal is to make Iglesias the Reds version of Hader, would be interesting.

    However, then they would still need to find more closer types. Knebel and Jefferies could finish out games after Hader for MIL, had experience prior to 2018 in doing so.

    Given some of the deals that FA relievers got last off-season (Bryan Shaw, Joe Smith, etc.)…it kind of makes me think new deal is to package his cost certainty in a big deal for a SP.

    This new contract re-affirms Iglesias, IMO, as the kind of guy the Indians would seek to acquire, as Steve and a bunch of folks here have mentioned virtually all year long.

    Reply
  9. One consideration to support the out of the box intentions:

    Arb payouts for relievers are still based on antiquated stats like saves. So why did the Reds do this deal when it adds no additional years? Well, maybe their rationale is that we plan to use Iglesias in ways that will devalue him at arb hearings, and to be fair to the player, and get him to buy into the strategy, they needed to eliminate an arb panel determining his value.

    Now that Iggy is paid, Bell is free to deploy him without concern for the players well being. This prevents a disgruntled player, and really opens the table for Bell and Johnson to experiment.

    Reply
  10. Maybe we start Disco,Castillo, Harvey, then use Iglesias on day 4 and 5 for the first couple of innings with Romano and Mahle pitching the middle innings and Lorenzen closing like the Rays.

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  11. Back in the late 70s to mid 80s there was an outstanding relief pitcher by the name of Bruce Sutter. He pitched 100 or more innings five times including 122.2 innings in 1984. Maybe with the success of Hader we will see outstanding relief pitchers start to get 100 or more innings.

    Reply
    • THIS. I think this is what the Reds should be working towards. Average him out at 110 innings a year and we have an instant improvement for our pitching staff.

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  12. Mike Marshall like usage?

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  13. Would be unfair to now make him a starter with a 5.1 inning limit?

    I’m not necessarily advocating for this. 30 starts x 5 innings Vs 50 appearances at 2.5 innings is about the same.

    Reply
  14. The Reds need good pitchers, and he is a good pitcher. But the Reds don’t need an elite traditional closer, so, as Steve says, the benefit of the deal hinges on the new regime’s use of him. I’d like it if the Reds got Benintendi, too, but I bet it would take Trammell or Senzel in addition to Iglesias to get it done, and my enthusiasm for that is distinctly muted.

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    • agreed .. I like the potential of 6 years of Trammell add/or Senzel better than the next 4+ years of Andrew Benintendi anyway ..

      Reply
  15. Ok, so how much more would it take to get a 3 year deal with Scooter? $ 8-10 M more?

    Reply
    • With the Reds talking about spending money this offseason, it does beg the question of how much will be spent on players already in the organization as well …

      Reply
    • We’d be lucky if he took 3 years at 45 mill

      Reply
      • I’d say 3 years $12M per is about the Reds upper limit. They may throw in $2M for a buyout of $15M for that 4th year. Any more than that & the Reds should trade him next July or let him walk after 2019 season.

        Reply
  16. You know, I must say, it’s enjoyable to be having this type of conversation now, compared to years past. These guys are getting my hopes up.

    As a few commenters above stated, the first thing that when through my mind as I was reading the post was the ‘opener.’ If he goes that twice in one turn of the rotation, is he available out of the bullpen on a third day?

    Reply
    • FWIW, here is a good article from August on how Tampa used the “opener” role. They used several different guys in the role over course of season.

      https://www.si.com/mlb/2018/08/23/tampa-bay-rays-bullpen

      The key quote on usage from one of the openers, Hunter Wood:

      “I could go two innings and be down a day and be relieving the day after that, go an inning or an inning-plus out of the bullpen,” says the soft-spoken Wood, a righty from Arkansas.

      Reply
  17. “Williams declined comment when asked if there were any no-trade clauses in Iglesias’ new contract.”

    https://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/mlb/reds/2018/11/21/raisel-iglesias-signs-3-year-deal-reds-under-control-through-2021/2081863002/

    If the Reds gave Iggy any no-trade protection, that just furthers the culture of lovable losers that has already infected the organization. The Rays weren’t re-doing deals for their openers.

    If the team did not, they should say so, keeping open the option that another club could wow them with an offer. Few players on this club should be considered untradeable.

    Also is an indictment of how bad the rebuild around young arms is. There isn’t anyone in the organization, except Hunter Greene, who could try and be a “Hader”?

    Reply
  18. Bell / Johnson: Raisel, we want to transition you to the starting rotation.

    Iglesias: What if I hurt me shoulder and destroy my arbitration value?

    Bell / Johnson: Well, take a look at this contract….

    1. Castillo
    2. Iglesias
    3. FA / Trade pitcher
    4. Sorensen
    5. Mahle / Disco

    Reply
    • It appears this was done, not to make him a starter, but to use him at any point in the game where he is needed. The contract takes away the loss he would take in arbitration for counting stats like saves

      Reply
      • To me, the apparent thought process of preparing Iglesias (financially) to appear in non-statistically-significant situations (saves) is another sign of some progressive thinking by the organization. If he becomes a true Hader-type in terms of effectiveness, his trade value will be even greater if we get to mid-season and the team is still in the pits (hopefully not).

        Reply
  19. Tom what bothers me is if we get to mid-seaspn Iggy is in the pits and doesn’t come out. I’m afraid they will do as they did with Chapman Fraizer and Bruce and wait to late to make a deal.

    Reply
  20. Dismiss WJ with prejudice.

    Reply
    • That was a big whoopsy, sorry for the misposted comment.

      For Iggy…

      5 inning start every 5th day ~ 180 innings.
      3 inning relief appearance every 3rd day ~ 180 innings.

      I’m looking forward to seeing what Bell and Johnson do with the MLB pithing staff, hopefully with a free hand.

      Reply
  21. Its just hard to teach an old dog new tricks.As long as WJ is still around he will have influence from the owner on down.The board room is still the same with the same people still calling the shots.Replacing them all doesn’t insure success but keeping them hasn’t done it either.

    Reply
  22. It seems like the cost impact certainty could also be helpful as they consider free agents and trades this winter.

    Reply
  23. I can’t help but think that this gives the Reds some budget certainty, but also the same for potential trading teams. Take Boston for example, 52 saves there are obviously more valuable than 28-30 saves in Cincinnati. There will simply be more opportunities for saves. But in Boston if they went to arbitration, those 52 saves would get Iglesias about $11M-$12M for the first time, and about $14M-$15M the second time. That will be a small financial coup for the obtaining team if Iglesias is traded.
    Now, if there was a no-trade clause in Iglesias’s new contract, that turns this calculus upside down. If Dick Williams would not comment on that aspect, it makes you wonder.
    This is also a huge opportunity for Michael Lorenzen and Sal Romano. Both of their arms played up well out of the bullpen and could give both an opportunity to close some games. Or it could have the Reds shopping the free agent or trade markets for a reliever that has at least some experience closing, or in late game innings. I don’t see the Reds signing a Kimbrel, Britton, or Familia type. But maybe an Adam Ottavino, or a Joe Kelly, or a Cody Allen, or a LH in Andrew Miller or Justin Wilson. Or go the trade route and look to Seattle for Alex Colome is quite possible. That would signal that the Reds are serious about building up a formidable bullpen. We may see the Reds go with an 8 man bullpen full time and a 4 man bench. That means the 3 non-catching bench players will have to be very versatile. That makes the losing of Brandon Dixon trying to sneak him through waivers all the more questionable.
    The next couple of weeks leading up to the Winter Meetings should be interesting. The last 4 Winter Meetings though, have been full of disappointment. The Reds haven’t had a good Winter Meetings since the last day of the 2014 Meetings when the Reds traded Mat Latos for Anthony Deslafani and traded the “the bloated corpse of Alfredo Simon” for Eugenio Suarez. Those 2015 Winter Meetings brought us the report on Aroldis Chapman and the debacle that ensued. Later that winter they did get off the Frazier trade and the Straily trade.

    Reply
  24. I don’t think they signed Iglesias to turn around and trade him. The last time that happened with a Reds closer was when Jeff Shaw signed a contract extension in the 1997-98 off-season, and Jim Bowden traded him to the Dodgers prior to the 1998 All-Star break for Paul Konerko and Dennys Reyes. (Konerko, who went on to hit 428 of his 431 major league homers for teams other than Cincinnati, was then traded to the White Sox for Mike Cameron.)

    If the front office is open to any and all means to improve the team, then there are certainly scenarios in which an Iglesias trade could improve the team in other areas of greater need. I’m taking Dick Williams at his word, which was that the signing made Iglesias’ salary for the next three years fixed and not a variable based on statistics such as saves. I love the concept that he could be the Reds’ version of Josh Hader.

    Interestingly, Hader pitched only 81.1 innings this past season over 55 appearances — not including post-season. I thought it would have been more. Iglesias: 72 innings in 66 appearances. Hader recorded about one more out per appearance than Iglesias.

    Reply
    • Yes, I’d be very surprised if Iglesias is traded. I mean they should listen on everyone but I don’t expect them to be actively shopping him. I also would be surprised to see him hit 100 IP this year. I expect him to be used similar to how he was used last year with a few instances in which they get him up and in to face the best hitters at a crucial time. I expect the “crucial time” to be the 7th inning or later.

      Reply

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati 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. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce's 2010 homer and Homer Bailey's 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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