The Reds should wait a little longer before extending Elly De La Cruz
While the production that a team is going to receive from a player like Noelvi Marte feels relatively stable, the same cannot be said for Elly De La Cruz. Last year's rookie sensation may well be the best player in baseball within the next three years. He could also fizzle out and find himself in a bench role.
While the former seems much more likely than the latter, all Reds fans have to go on at the moment are the numbers that De La Cruz put up in 2023. De La Cruz, who has some of the best raw talent in the game, struck out over 33% of the time during his rookie season. Yikes!
Now, it's important not to overreact to that number. Some Reds fans think it's funny to toss out comparisons to the likes of former Cincinnati outfielder Aristides Aquino, and that's just factually inaccurate. Too many fans forget that Aquino was nearly 26 years old when he went on that month-long tear in August of 2019. De La Cruz just turned 22 last month.
De La Cruz has fewer than 400 big league at-bats. And with such volatility in his stats, it would very difficult to commit to the type of contract extension it would likely take in order to sign De La Cruz long-term. While the Reds might be able to use the Colt Keith contract as a good barometer, De La Cruz is probably looking for something in the Bobby Witt Jr. range.
But having only been in the league since last June, it's hard to commit that type of money. Scott Boras is also De La Cruz's agent, so the idea of a contract extension might be off the table altogether. Boras prefers to take his clients onto the open market rather than just negotiating with one team. For now, the Reds should probably avoid signing De La Cruz to a long-term deal.