Cincinnati Reds: Will any one-year deals turn into a long-term contract?

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 17: Joe Panik #12 of the San Francisco Giants slides past Jose Peraza #9 and Scooter Gennett #3 of the Cincinnati Reds to steal second base during the fifth inning at Great American Ball Park on August 17, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated San Francisco 2-1 in 11 innings. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 17: Joe Panik #12 of the San Francisco Giants slides past Jose Peraza #9 and Scooter Gennett #3 of the Cincinnati Reds to steal second base during the fifth inning at Great American Ball Park on August 17, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated San Francisco 2-1 in 11 innings. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 26: Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts during the tenth inning against the Boston Red Sox in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 26: Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts during the tenth inning against the Boston Red Sox in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds signed seven of their eight arbitration eligible players to one-year deals. Will any of those players get an extension this offseason?

The Cincinnati Reds signed seven of their eight arbitration eligible players to one-year deals, with only Alex Wood failing to come to an agreement with the club. Who among the players that signed one-year deals on Friday could sign a long-term extension before the season starts.

Even though the Reds agreed to terms with several of their arbitration eligible players on Friday, it’s not unusual for a team to continue to negotiate towards a long-term deal once a one-year agreement has been reached. We saw the Reds do that last offseason with Eugenio Suárez.

Suárez was given a 1-year/ $3.75M contract for the 2018 season in early February, but in March, he and the Reds agreed to a 7-year/$66M contract extension with a $15M option for the 2025 season. Will the Cincinnati Reds look to do the same thing this offseason with one or more of the players they just came to terms with on Friday? Let’s take a look at the most likely candidates.

Yasiel Puig, Outfielder

The idea of extending Yasiel Puig is an interesting one, however, with him just coming to the Cincinnati Reds less than a month ago, it appears unlikely the Wild Horse and the club will reach a long-term agreement before the start of the 2019 season.

Puig is a phenomenal talent who helped lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to the World Series the past two seasons. Last year, Puig hit .267 with 26 home runs, 63 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases. Those numbers are likely to increase with Puig now playing half his games in the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park.

Puig is a bit animated to say the least, and some fans are leery of his attitude and antics. Personally, I don’t see that as much of an issue, nor is it a reason to dismiss his production on the field should a long-term contract be discussed.

The biggest reason I don’t see the Reds pushing a long-term contract with Puig is due to their outfield-heavy farm system that will soon be delivering some very talented young prospects to the big leagues. For a small market team like the Reds, it would be unwise to invest in player like Puig long-term with prospects like Taylor Trammell, Jose Siri, and TJ Friedl coming up through the pipeline.

Puig’s asking price is likely to be beyond what the Reds are looking to spend. That, combined with their excess of talented Minor League outfielders makes it highly unlikely that the club and Puig will look for a long-term extension before the season begins.

Chances for a long-term deal: 5%

CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 14: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Great American Ball Park on August 14, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 14: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Great American Ball Park on August 14, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

Michael Lorenzen, Relief pitcher

This may be the most interesting contract situation among the players who signed a one-year deal this past week. Michael Lorenzen is coming off a steady 2018 campaign and will likely be relied upon heavily, in some capacity, next season. The muscular right-hander is slated to make $1.95M next season, but will the Reds look to lock him up beyond just 2019?

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  • I find it highly unlikely that the Reds and Lorenzen reach a long-term extension before the season begins, and it has nothing to do with the Reds desire to keep Lorenzen. Nor does it revolve around Lorenzen’s desire to stay in Cincinnati, but rather what Lorenzen’s role will be going forward. Is he a relief pitcher or a starter?

    We’ll likely get the answer to that question fairly soon, and all signs point to Lorenzen returning to the bullpen after starting 3 games to close the 2018 season. Lorenzen made 42 relief appearances last season and pitched a total of 81 innings.

    His offensive capabilities make Lorenzen an intriguing player to plug into a starting role, but with Alex Wood, Anthony DeSclafani, Luis Castillo, and Tanner Roark essentially set as four of the five starters, there’s only one spot left in the 2019 Reds’ rotation. Tyler Mahle would appear to have the inside track right now and there’s still the possibility that Cincinnati could add another starter this offseason.

    With the uncertainty surrounding Michael Lorenzen’s role next season, a long-term contract seems unlikely, however, it’s not inconceivable. If internal discussions have been had with Lorenzen, his newly appointed representation, and the Reds management, it’s quite possible that the two sides could come to an agreement before there season.

    Lorenzen is not a free agent until after the 2021 season, so he and the Reds have a few more years before it becomes a priority for the team to reach a long-term contract with their talented right-hander.

    Chances for a long-term deal: 10%

    CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 26: Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds throws the ball to first base against the Kansas City Royals at Great American Ball Park on September 26, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 26: Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds throws the ball to first base against the Kansas City Royals at Great American Ball Park on September 26, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

    José Peraza, Shortstop

    Out of all the players that could conceivably receive a long-term deal from the Cincinnati Reds this offseason, José Peraza may be the most likely. Peraza had a very good season in 2018 and could easily be the Reds breakout player in 2019. Would it behoove the Reds to lock up Peraza in the same way they did his fellow countryman Eugenio Suárez last offseason?

    I think this option is very much on the table for the Reds. Peraza looks like a player that the team could build around for the next 5-6 years. In his first full season at shortstop, Peraza hit .288 with a .326 on-base percentage, 31 doubles, 14 homers, 58 RBIs, and 23 stolen bases. Peraza’s defense was not stellar, and that’s an area of concern. However, adjusting to playing shortstop exclusively is going to take some time and Peraza will likely improve.

    With new hitting coach Turner Ward now on staff, how much better might Peraza perform at the plate? He led the entire National League in singles (182) last season and showed a tremendous increase in power. I don’t know where new manager David Bell plans to put Peraza in the lineup, but I hope it’s somewhere near the top.

    What might a contract for Peraza look like? I think you could use the one that Suárez signed last offseason and go from there. Lookin back now, Geno’s deal looks like an incredible bargain, so Peraza may be inclined to look for larger contract.

    José Peraza does not become a free agent until after the 2022, so the Reds have three more years to decide what to do with his situation long-term. However, what appears to be a team-friendly contract that Suárez signed last offseason has to be on the Reds’ minds. If Peraza improves on last year’s solid campaign, his price tag is only going to get higher.

    Chances for a long-term deal: 45%

    WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 17: Scooter Gennett #3 of the Cincinnati Reds and National League celebrates after a two-run home run in the ninth inning to tie the game against the American League during the 89th MLB All-Star Game, presented by Mastercard at Nationals Park on July 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
    WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 17: Scooter Gennett #3 of the Cincinnati Reds and National League celebrates after a two-run home run in the ninth inning to tie the game against the American League during the 89th MLB All-Star Game, presented by Mastercard at Nationals Park on July 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

    Scooter Gennett, Second baseman

    This is now the biggest question facing the Cincinnati Reds this offseason. What does the club do with their All-Star second baseman Scooter Gennett? Personally, I’ve wavered back and forth on this topic. There’s a lot of merit to both sides of the discussion. So let’s unpack the whole thing before I tell what I think.

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    Scooter Gennett is a fan favorite, an All-Star, a .300 hitter, and by all accounts, a good guy. He is the perfect fit for the city of Cincinnati, especially since he was born there. Gennett proves the doubters wrong last season and duplicated the success that no one thought was possible from a waiver pick up.

    On the flip side, he’s almost 28-years-old, has a top prospect nipping at his heels, and those questioning if he can duplicate his success one more time are out there. During his first four seasons in Milwaukee, Gennett slashed .279/.318/.420. In his two seasons in Cincinnati, Scooter has slashed .303/.351/.508.

    That’s a big difference and there are those critics just waiting for Scooter to return to the pedestrian numbers he put up while with the Brewers. Personally, I don’t see that happening and I expect Gennett to continue to hit the cover off the ball. I think the biggest factor against Gennett coming to terms with the Reds on an extension has nothing to do with him, but everything to do with Nick Senzel.

    This happens sometimes in baseball. You have a quality player at one position, and some young hotshot coming through the ranks appears ready to take your job. Senzel appears to be the real deal, and if it weren’t for concerns over his health, I think we’d have already seen the Reds move on from Gennett. But, as it is, Senzel has yet to play a Major League game and the the team is likely leery of handing the reins to a prospect who’s injury history is a bit scary.

    In the end, while there’s still a chance a long-term deal could be worked out, I expect the Cincinnati Reds and Scooter Gennett to enter the 2019 season without an extension in place. The Reds have a lot of young talent on the ball club and might be better served investing money in the pitching staff.

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    Scooter Gennett, whether he has a long-term contract or not, seems like the type of player who’ll give you 100% regardless of the circumstances. If a team-friendly deal (~$10M per season) is reached, I could see both sides come to an agreement. However, if Scooter is looking to get market value for his services, I don’t think he and the Reds will come to terms.

    Chances for a long-term deal: 25%

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