The Cincinnati Reds made a wise investment on Thursday morning and re-signed one of their impending free agents that the team could ill-afford to lose heading into the offseason.
No, it's not Joey Votto. The Reds re-signed catcher Luke Maile to a one-year deal with a club-option for 2025 worth $3.5-million. Maile signed with the Reds last offseason for $1.18-million, so the backstop is receiving a nice raise.
Prior to signing his new deal on Thursday, Maile was one of five free agents Cincinnati had on the roster. The other four are Votto (club-option), Curt Casali (mutual-option), Harrison Bader, and Buck Farmer.
Reds re-sign Luke Maile to one-year deal
Some Reds fans will disagree with the notion that Luke Maile was the most important impending free agent heading into the offseason, preferring instead to elevate Joey Votto to the level of critically important to re-sign.
But that's simply not the case. In fact, I would wager that Maile had a bigger impact on and off the field in 2023 than Votto. Reds President of Baseball Operations Nick Krall stated on Thursday via MLB.com that, "Staff loved him, players loved him. He was a really good fit. He’s a tremendous guy.”
Maile hit just .235 in 78 games, but anyone who watched this Cincinnati Reds team last season knows that the 32-year-old was essential to the development of the young pitching staff. Maile was even Andrew Abbott's personal catcher - a trend that is likely to continue in 2024.
In terms of pop time, according to Baseball Savant, Maile was better than average. Maile was also rated above-average for his ability to throw runners out, and gunned down 23-percent of would-be base stealers in 2023.
Maile's new contract all but guarantees that Curt Casali's mutual-option will not be exercised by the Cincinnati Reds, meaning the veteran will become a free agent this offseason.
It would also be fair to assume that the three-catcher experiment is officially over, and Luke Maile serve as the backup catcher to starter Tyler Stephenson in 2024.