Cincinnati Reds: Scooter Gennett contract talks not imminent

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 29: Scooter Gennett #3 of the Cincinnati Reds swings at a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park on August 29, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 29: Scooter Gennett #3 of the Cincinnati Reds swings at a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park on August 29, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Scooter Gennett has enjoyed two incredibly successful seasons in Cincinnati, leading fans to question why he hasn’t been offered a contract extension. Current Cincinnati Reds’ prospects, small sample size, or what a contract extension might cost them could all be factors in why they haven’t paid the man yet.

When Scooter Gennett was claimed by the Cincinnati Reds coming into the 2017 season, not many of us believed he would become the fan-loved, scrappy, blue-collar player he now epitomizes. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reported Dick Williams and Scooter’s camp are not close to a contract extension.

I may be impartial for wanting an extension, because I love watching him swing the bat. However, there are a multitude of reasons why the Reds might not be willing to extend Gennett just yet, one of which may be a teammate.

The most glaring reason why Scooter has yet to receive an extension is Cincinnati should have prospects in the next few years who can man second base. Nick Senzel, the Reds No. 1 prospect is versatile, being able to play third base, shortstop, second base, and it has even been talked about recently in a move to center field for the time being just to get his potent bat into the lineup each game.

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Shed Long and Jeter Downs are also two prospects who could take the reins, although, maybe not for a couple years. The development of these players, along with the current need for help at second base after 2019, could be the deciding factor on whether Gennett receives an extension or not.

A second, less likely, but still valid reason is the small sample size of his success. His 2017 and 2018 in Cincinnati have been the two most consistent years of the 29 year-olds short major league career. While he has posted great numbers in those years (combined 6.6 WAR 123 OPS+ 189 RBI and .303 BA), ownership I’m sure is still feeling the Homer Bailey hangover (just look at that -1.5 WAR while making $23M, YIKES). It’s understandable they would be hesitant to extend Scooter.

Lastly, but maybe the most sensible reason, is money. Not because he couldn’t be signed to a more team friendly deal, but because with his hitting pedigree the last two years, an equally successful 2019 could mean a major payday headed his way.

To put it in perspective, second base eligible players with a similar WAR, BA, and OPS+ the last two years are Jose Altuve (arguably the best second baseman in the league) who signed a deal for 5 years/ $151MJose Ramirez who signed an extremely team-friendly 4 year/ $26M deal with an option for 2 additional years worth $24M, and Jed Lowrie (the A’s super-utility infielder) who just came off a 3 year $23M deal in his early 30’s.

With Scooter Gennett’s 2018 arbitration number at $5.7M, one would think he will increase that number to a near $8-9M for his final arbitration year in 2019. Cincinnati has repeatedly made it known they are a smaller market team. To sign a player about to hit his 30’s to a 4 or 5 year deal worth upwards of $60-70M, might be too much for them to strike a deal on with so many other pressing needs.

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The likelihood of an extension for Scooter Gennett will be something to monitor throughout 2019. As we track the progress of prospects, deals signed by other second basemen, and what needs appear during the season, we will get a much clearer idea of what the future of Scooter will be with the Cincinnati Reds beyond 2019.