3 reasons why the Reds should extend Spencer Steer, 1 reason why they shouldn’t

Is Spencer Steer the most deserving Reds player to receive a contract extension?
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Spencer Steer
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Spencer Steer / Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

About this time last year, the Cincinnati Reds called a press conference and announced that starting pitcher Hunter Greene had agreed to a six-year, $53 million contract extension. Some Reds fans loved the move, while others disagreed. Regardless of where you come down on the idea of keeping Greene under lock and key for the foreseeable future, this is the time of year when those deals go down.

Reds Country has opined over the last several months as to which young player the team should extend next. Elly De La Cruz is a popular target, as is Matt McLain. But Spencer Steer may be the most pivotal player on the Reds roster right now. Though he doesn't possess the same ceiling as De La Cruz, he's remarkably consistent. McLain may have a better skillset, but his health is a concern.

Offering a contract extension to Steer would be the safest bet Cincinnati could make. Let's explore all the reasons why the Reds should offer Steer a contract extension and the one reason why they shouldn't.

Spencer Steer is the Reds most consistent hitter

Steer is the best bat in the Reds lineup. Yes, you can make a case for McLain as well, but since the infielder is currently on the injured list, which is the same place he ended the 2023 season, it's hard to make that argument.

Steer's swing is about as pure as it comes. He keeps the bat head level, can drive the ball to all fields with gap-to-gap power, and led the team in home runs last season. With three round-trippers through the first 10-plus games of 2024, he's well on his way to doing that again.

Last season, Steer led the Reds in hits, doubles, homers, RBI, and walks. Though not a burner on the base paths, Steer also had 15 stolen bases and was only thrown out three times. While De La Cruz might be electric, Steer is steady. When you're looking for clutch base knock, every Reds fan wants to see Steer in the batters' box.

Spencer Steer can play multiple positions

A lot of baseball fans don't like the idea of players that divide their playing time among of a myriad of positions. But the name of the game in today's era of baseball in versatility. Steer showed in 2023 that he could play multiple positions.

During his rookie campaign, Steer began the season at third base. By the end of April, Steer was working as the Reds starting first baseman. Steer had time at second base as well, and eventually moved into the outfield once the Reds youth movement reached its peak with the ascension of De La Cruz, McLain, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Noelvi Marte.

This season, left field has been Steer's home. Though he's moved around a bit since Opening Day, Steer is gaining more and more playing time on the outfield grass, and he's looking quite comfortable out there as well.

Having a player with Steer's versatility under contract for the long haul prevents these young prospects from being blocked. Nick Senzel changed positions because Eugenio Suárez was the Reds third baseman. Yonder Alonso could never make an impact in Cincinnati with Joey Votto on the roster. Steer's versatility is a huge reason why the Reds should lock him into a long-term contract extension.

Spencer Steer has a strong track record of remaining healthy

The best ability is avail-ability, and Steer has shown that during his brief major league tenure. But if you go back to Steer's time in the minor leagues, he's been mostly injury-free there as well. Steer was one of the few players on the Reds roster that never landed on the injured list last season.

Steer played in 156 games for the Reds in 2023, and while splitting time between the major and minor leagues in 2022, racked up 134 games played. Prior to that, Steer logged 110 games played while part of the Minnesota Twins organization.

If there's one thing Steer has been, it's durable. Watching so many Reds players drop like the flies over the past several weeks have only reinforced the need for quality depth. While injuries are part of the game, when it comes to investing into a player for the next several years, having a track record of good health is something that GMs and front office executives must consider.

Spencer Steer doesn't reach free agency until 2028-29

If there's one knock against signing Steer to a long-term deal it's this - he'll be 31 years old by the time he reaches free agency. Steer made his major league debut at age 24 during the 2022 season. Last season, while Steer was 25 years old, De La Cruz was just 21.

Steer is entering his second full season in the major leagues. Among the core group of Reds players that most fans would love to see signed for the long haul, Steer is the oldest. De La Cruz (22), McLain (24), Encarnacion-Strand (24), and Marte (22) are all younger than Steer. Even Will Benson is younger.

Is it wise to offer up a long-term contract to a player like Steer who could be on the downside of his career by the time the contract is up? You'd have to think that any potential contract extension for Steer would be at least seven years or more. The Reds would want to buy up his arbitration years and then the first or second year after the arbitration window.

It's not to say that deals like these don't get done, but typically the players who are signing contract extensions during the infancy of their careers are in the early-20s. The Boston Red Sox just extended outfielder Ceddanne Rafaela for eight years. Rafaela is currently 23 years old.

Steer's age shouldn't scare the Reds away entirely from committing a considerable amount of their payroll to the versatile outfielder. The question becomes whether or not that money could be better allocated toward the younger players who could have a more lasting impact. But if that's the only concern, it shouldn't keep Cincinnati from locking up Steer for the next several seasons.

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