Cincinnati Reds Should Not Extend Todd Frazier


Todd Frazier has quickly become the face of the Cincinnati Reds. After a breakout season a year ago, he’s taken another step forward in 2015 and become one of the best third baseman in baseball. Before this season, his fun-loving personality made him well-liked by Reds fans, but his game-winning Opening Day home run was the start of him becoming one of the most loved Cincinnati athletes in recent memory.

Since that day, Frazier has been one of the driving forces in the Reds’ offense and he currently sits sixth in all of baseball with 25 home runs. His production was enough for fans to vote for him as the National League’s starting third baseman in the All-Star game and he cemented his name in Reds lore by winning the Home Run Derby in dramatic fashion for the hometown fans in Great American Ball Park to witness.

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Before the season began, Frazier signed a two-year, $12 million contract that will expire before his final year of arbitration in 2017. Based on his production, that contract seems like a steal now, doesn’t it? Given that and the fact that he’s loved by Cincinnati fans, Reds ownership may be tempted to dole out another big contract and give Frazier a long-term extension. Per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, many in baseball feel the Reds will try to do just that.

They may want to think long and hard before making that choice.

The first thing that needs to be considered is the number of huge contracts the team is already responsible for. Joey Votto is still under contract for eight more seasons and is still owed $192 million, with a $20 million team option and $7 million buyout for 2024. After this season, Votto will be making at least $20 million a year through 2023, when he is 40 years old. Meanwhile, Homer Bailey will be making at least $18 million a year until 2019, Brandon Phillips is still owed $27 million over the next two years, Devin Mesoraco will make $25 million over the course of the next three years, and Jay Bruce will make $12.5 million next year.

Not all of those are bad contracts (namely Bruce’s and Mesoraco’s), but for a small-to-mid-market team, that’s a lot of money already locked up. Adding another huge contract in Frazier would potentially keep the Reds in the same predicament of not being able to add needed pieces in free agency (i.e. bench players, relievers, a left fielder) because they’re so restricted financially. Considering that Seattle Mariners’ third baseman Kyle Seager was signed to a seven-year, $100 million contract during the previous offseason, you have to think Frazier will be making even more than that, as his numbers are even better.

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The other thing to consider is Frazier’s age. Sure, 29 isn’t old, but most baseball players begin to decline in their 30s. Even if Frazier continues to perform at a high level until he’s 32 or 33, no one can expect him to keep producing that way into his mid-to-late 30s. He may be worth a contract of $100 million+ right now, but will he be worth that in 2019 or 2020? Maybe, but more than likely not. Keep in mind that the Reds will also still be paying an enormous amount of money to Votto, and the team could be looking at a similar situation to what the Philadelphia Phillies are in right now. With highly paid, aging stars like Ryan HowardChase Utley and Cliff Lee, the Phillies are in quite a mess and things could remain that way for years to come.

Frazier may be the face of the franchise right now and Bob Castellini has been loyal to his star players since buying the team in 2006, but at some point, keeping the team competitive in the future has to outweigh keeping the fan favorites around long-term. You can ask Phillies fans about that. Frazier is a fantastic player who is a lot of fun to watch, but giving him an extension is not something the Reds should worry about right now.

Next: Reds fall to Indians despite big nights from Bruce, Votto