As of writing this article, the Reds are 18-23. They have had a lot of up and down moments in a season that was expected to be at least fun to watch. So far, it definitely has been fun, but stressful. With the insane amount of one-run games, the Reds at least seem to have some pieces working well together from all of their different moves. Keeping that in mind, the Reds also have a lot of players who are only here for the rest of the 2019 season and it is clear that this is the beginning of their hopeful window into contention.
To make sure they stay in contention beyond this season, there are a few players that the Reds need to look at giving extensions to as soon as they possibly can.
1. Scooter Gennett
It is officially time to pay this man. Not only has he hit the cover off the ball since coming to Cincinnati, but he is also a native of the area, a fan favorite and clearly being missed in a struggling lineup that was expected to be near the top of the league. Weirdly enough he may have actually helped his case for the extension that he wants due to his injury.
With Nick Senzel seemingly finding a home in the outfield and Jose Peraza struggling, the Reds need to keep Scooter in order to make sure there is no hole at second or in the lineup. He just turned 29 and will be in the prime of his career for at least a few more years. Signing him would ensure that the Reds will have a major piece of their team going forward during what they believe to be their window to contend.
Currently, Scooter is making $9,775,000 in his last year of arbitration. What a contract extension might look like for him is a three-year deal worth $30 million with a fourth year mutual option at $12 million.
This contract would go into his age 32 or 33 season, which would be a solid chunk of the Reds window to win and it would easily cover them until a prospect like Jonathan India was ready to come up to the Reds. The Reds have the money to do this as their total payroll going into 2020 is currently only $60 million compared to 2019’s $126 million.
2. Jose Iglesias
This may come as a surprise but, Iglesias is only 29 and still well in his prime. He is batting well and may be one of the best shortstops defensively in the league. His 1.1 WAR this early into the season speaks for itself. This comes after arguably his best season in 2018 where he had a 2.2 WAR. The fact of the matter is that this man not being signed to a major league deal right off the bat was a crime and the Reds took advantage.
In a similar situation as Gennett, with Senzel in the outfield, Peraza under-performing and the Reds having quite a bit of money, an extension with a player of Iglesias’ caliber should be on the table. He is nothing if not consistent at every facet of the game and could be a relatively cheap piece for the Reds’ playoff window.
Currently, Jose Iglesias is making $2.5 million a year but does have Scott Boras as an agent which is a factor in a deal. That said, if the Reds offered him a two-year extension at $4 million a year with bonuses thrown in, it would be hard for Iglesias to say no.
Similarly to Gennett, this would take him into his year 32 season. It would also allow him to get at least one more big contract before getting too far up there in age. This contract is comparable to what was seen on the market last year and considering many of the same pieces will be there again, if the Reds offered Iglesias an extension he might regret not taking it.
3. Luis Castillo
One of the big trends is for teams to sign their best young players to major deals, now. If Reds fans don’t think that Dick Williams is already thinking about this with Castillo then they might want to prepare themselves. Castillo is currently pitching out of his mind and is cementing himself as the ace of this Cincinnati Squad. For many, this is something they have hoped one of their young pitchers would finally turn into.
Even as it stands right now the Reds have control of Castillo until 2024 or his year 31 season. He is also not arbitration eligible until the 2021 season. This means the Reds will have him pretty cheap for this year and next. Even in his first round of arbitration, it is likely that the Reds could get Castillo for a lot less than a normal ace. It seems as though the Reds could pay Castillo more early on and less, comparatively, later. Castillo could get guaranteed money instead of potentially losing out to injury, a bad year or something else unforeseen.
Here is how an extension or really just a new contract would look for Castillo: Six years, $72 million with it being $6 million in year one, $9 million in year two, $12 million in year three and then years four through six would be $15 million.
Again this is just a projection but, the Reds would get their ace through the 2025 season where Castillo would be 32. Like Iglesias and Gennett, he would still be able to sign one more major contract or even do another extension if the timing felt right. Castillo would also make a lot more money up front then he would in arbitration.
The Age of Extension
For baseball players and general managers, extensions are currently the way to go. Free agency has not worked out in the last few years and everyone is noticing. Players need security and teams want to keep their best players at a rate they choose.
The Reds should be no different and should take advantage of this trend. Especially during a time when they have their window to contend and have a sizable amount of room in their payroll. Overall if the Reds did all three of these deals they would be at about $80 million of their theoretical $126 million budget for 2020. This would mean that they still have $46 million dollars to spend on arbitration, trades, other extensions and maybe even some major signings. The Reds would be set up well for the next few years.