Three reasons to love the Devin Mesoraco Extension

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Things have been relatively quiet on the home front for the Cincinnati Reds this off-season. They have not gone out and reconstructed an entire roster, a la the San Diego Padres, nor sold off nearly every asset they own, a la the Atlanta Braves/Oakland Athletics. General Manager Walt Jocketty has walked a fine line through these winter months; one that involves a budget that isn’t too small, but also isn’t too big. After a few head scratching decisions, he hit his first home run in the contract extension of catcher Devin Mesoraco.

As the two sides headed for an arbitration number that wouldn’t even begin to pay Mesoraco his true value, both parties came to an agreement: Mesoraco would continue to be paid below his value for the next two years, but come 2017 and 2018, he’d get a significant raise—which may indeed still be below his value if he peaks like the Reds expect him to. All of this is the first reason inking Devin was a no-brainer.

 1. The deal didn’t break the bank

If you’re like most humans, you weigh the cost of something prior to doing it. The Reds are not, and never have been, in the position to haphazardly assign money to players they aren’t absolutely sure on. If you’d like to see the exact dollar figures Devin will be receiving, head on over to our article from Monday to check it out.

In short, it’s a 4-year/$28 million deal, with a chance for the total to balloon all the way up to $30 million by the time it’s all said and done. Regardless, for the type of production Mesoraco doled out in 2014, that kind of deal would seem to be a steal.

To put it in context, Devin had a 4.7 WAR in 2014. He was paid a whopping total of $525,000. With the advent of modern-day free agency, players are being paid as high $10.5 million per WAR point, in a case such as Curtis Granderson. Robinson Cano, the consensus best player on the free agent market last season, still got $9.4 million for each WAR point in 2014—which by the way, was only 4.9, two-tenths of a point higher than the Reds’ backstop, who made nearly nine million dollars less.

Even if he doesn’t get any better, or even somehow regresses by 2018, he’ll still be sitting around $2.5-3 million per WAR point, which based on figures paid by other clubs, will be an absolute steal.

2. He’s homegrown

Something not lost on Reds fans over the years has been the team’s ability to draft and develop their own talent. It has all come together in the past half decade, winning two division championships, and earning a place in the inaugural Wild Card Game back in 2013.

Mesoraco was a first-round selection of the Reds back in 2007, 15th overall, out of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He became so highly vaunted while in their system, that prior to 2012, he was ranked inside the top-25 prospects in baseball list for all three major rankings systems (MLB.com, BaseballProspectus.com, Baseball America).

In an age of Bryce Harper’s and Mike Trout’s, who obliterate the conventional wisdom about the game, it serves as a reminder that not all All-Stars are cut from the same mold. Mesoraco has developed similarly to a fine wine. He came to the Reds as a raw 18-year-old catcher, and at age 26, made his first All-Star game.

In a way, the Reds have benefitted from his normal development. Had he forced their hand to bring him up even sooner, his clock would have begun earlier, not allowing them to keep him until at least his age-30 season at a reasonable dollar figure.

Fans know the name Devin Mesoraco. He’s not an unknown free agent who will need to get accustomed to Cincinnati. He’s already won here and knows what it takes to take the Queen City back to the Postseason.

3. This a move for right now…and the future

Baseball is a cyclical game. Teams cannot stay on top forever (even the Yankees have their seasons where they miss out on October) and eventually, your club will win (unless you’re the Cubs, in which case, sorry).

The Reds have had a window opened since 2010 when they won the division for the first time in 15 years. The following year was a wash, and then the club came roaring back for Postseason runs in 2012 and 2013. I’ll take to my grave a declaration that the 2012 version of the Cincinnati Reds was the best in baseball that year, but that will more than likely be nothing but words by that time.

Now after a season where they believed they could contend for it all, they’ve had to retool. Gone are rotation stalwarts Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, but in comes Marlon Byrd. The move of re-signing Mesoraco to a deal that keeps him in Cincinnati through 2018 tells us that the Reds are serious about winning not only right now, but in a few years as well.

The core of this club (Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Devin Mesoraco) seemingly isn’t going anywhere for an extended period of time. The front office will have tense decisions to make in the upcoming years, most of which are based on how well the club does in 2015 and beyond.

Regardless, by inking their backstop to a four-year extension, the Reds are looking for him to be a catalyst on their path back to October.