It can oftentimes be foolish to discuss contract extensions when a player is years away from free agency, but the clock is the ticking for the Cincinnati Reds to sign Jonathan India to a long-term contract extension despite the 2022 season being just his second in the major leagues.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have given their division rivals the blueprint for how to keep India in the Queen City. The Buccos recently signed third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes to a $70M contract extension. Hayes, like India, was not slated to hit free agency until after the 2026 season.
According to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the deal is front loaded, paying Hayes $20M during the first two seasons of the extension. Had Pittsburgh chosen not to extend their up-and-coming star, the team would have paid Hayes around $1.5M for those two seasons combined.
The Reds need to offer Jonathan India a contract extension soon.
Offering a contract extension is a gamble, right? If the Cincinnati Reds offered a contract extension to Jonathan India, the club is hoping that last year's NL Rookie of the Year continues his upward trajectory.
However, it's a gamble on the part of the player also. Were India to sign a contract extension similar to what Hayes just agreed to, he'd be giving up the ability to hit the open market once he's spent a full six seasons in Cincinnati.
By agreeing to a contract extension, Ke'Bryan Hayes will take home vastly more than he would have during the first six years in the league. The $41M guaranteed during the first five years of the deal is probably close to double what Hayes would have made through the arbitration process.
But, if the Bucs third baseman becomes a perennial All-Star and takes home three or more Gold Gloves during the first five years of his new deal, he'll be missing out on a boatload of money, as the final three years of contract play Hayes just $23M combined with a $12M club option for the 2030 season.
But that's the risk the player takes. Hayes is hedging his bets, and the Pirates will be cashing in if the 25-year-old blossoms into the player they think he can be. If Hayes falls short of expectations, a la Eugenio Suárez, then Pittsburgh has an expensive piece to their roster who may be holding the team back.
Suárez was a bargain for the Cincinnati Reds during the first couple of seasons after signing his six-year/$66M contract extension. But after two subpar seasons at the dish, the Reds front office decided it was time to move on from Geno and traded him to the Seattle Mariners. In order to convince the M's to take on Suárez's contract, they attached Jesse Winker to the deal.
The Reds have two young and talented players who look to be key to Cincinnati's success in the future; Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson. If the team believes that these two players, along with the likes of Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo, are going to turn into All-Star caliber players, then the club needs to lock them up to contract extensions sooner rather than later.
Every productive year that goes by only makes agreeing to that contract extension more difficult and only makes the price tag go up. The Pittsburgh Pirates did the right thing by agreeing to terms with Ke'Bryan Hayes. Will it work out in their favor? Only time will tell.