Red Boyz 4 lyfe? - Andy Lyons
Also in this issue: Shane Victorino and the center field market, the ghost of Ryan Madson, and all the Reds' young shortstops.
Evan Longoria signed a six-year contract extension with the Rays for $100 million
He was already signed through 2016, but he wanted to be a life-long Ray and the team obliged with a terrifically-discounted deal.
If this rings familiar, it should. Jay Bruce said a while back that he wants a contract extension, even though his deal runs through 2016 (2017 is a club option). He's wants to be a life-long Red, and hopes the team will oblige. Longoria and Bruce will forever be connected in my mind. They were the consensus top two prospects in baseball entering the 2008 season, with experts divided on which one they liked more. Longoria was the polished college product while Bruce was the raw high school phenom. Longoria has clearly had the better career thus far, compiling more than double the fWAR that Bruce has (29.3 to 13.7).
If the Reds are interested in taking up Bruce on his offer though, the Longoria contract serves as a terrific reference point. There aren't many contract extensions that are signed so far away from free agency, so this is basically it. Maybe the Reds don't offer as many years or as many dollars, but I think they would be wise to take advantage of this opportunity. Bruce may not be the perennial MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he's still an above-average position player with a solid track record of performance.
Perhaps the biggest motivating factor for locking up Bruce even longer term is the potential dramatic increases in player value yet to come. TV money is going to be enormous in the near future, and player values will likely increase commensurately. In six years, we could look at a contract of $15 million per year for a player like Bruce as an absolute gift.
The Reds are interested in free agent Shane Victorino
Kevin Mitchell is Batman will now take a second to retrieve his socks from the ceiling. I doubt the Reds have the money now to sign Victorino, as the Jonathan Broxton contract probably spends up whatever funds were potentially available. Money in baseball is really unpredictable right now though, so who knows what's going on.
One thing going in the Reds' favor with regards to the center field market is that it is flushed with quality players this winter. B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Angel Pagan and Victorino are all receiving callers, so Walt could potentially play his wait-out-the-market game and snatch up the last one standing without a chair.
Ryan Madson collected a nice chunk of money from the Reds for the pleasure of using their facilities for his rehabilitiation
Eh, so long and good luck, pally. He's apparently close to signing with the Angels, which is good for him, I guess. He is a Cali cool kid, so heading down Disney way is a good fit for him. But I ain't mad at him. Walt chose Broxton instead, so turn the page.
Red Hot Mama brings news of three signings
The Reds signed Emmanuel Burriss and Mike Hessman to minor league deals, and Todd Redmond to a major league deal. Burriss is a utility infielder that can't hit, sporting a career .573 OPS in parts of five seasons. He's basically Wilson Valdez without the guaranteed roster spot. Hessman is a big lug who has spent nearly his entire career at the AAA level, collecting nearly 4500 PAs in 10 seasons. He has made the majors a few times over the years, but has never stuck. Good power, but little else.
Redmond is clearly the most interesting signing here. The major league deal guarantees him a spot on the 40-man, though it seems likely that he will head to Louisville once again. He represents rotation depth and should team with top prospects Daniel Corcino and Tony Cingrani to give Louisville fans something to watch this season. It could also mean the Reds are willing to move one of their current starting pitchers in a trade. With Aroldis Chapman likely heading to the rotation, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey could be shopped. Redmond represents a decent just-in-case and is good-enough depth to alleviate any doubts the team might have in trading from that depth. So yeah, I guess we'll see.
Jeff Keppinger was a big fat egg
He was playin' the wall, and then he broke his leg. Keppy-Kepp-Kepp seems likely to recover before Spring Training begins, but it could give teams pause in their pursuit of the free agent.
The Arizona Fall League has named their Top Prospects Team
The Reds show their impressive young shortstop depth here, as Billy Hamilton and Didi Gregorius represent. Hamilton, of course, moved to center field for the Fall League, and was the overall top prospect in the league this year. C. Trent has some quips about each selection:
Billy Hamilton, Reds -- Only had 10 stolen bases, which was surprising after his 155 bases during the regular season. He hit just .234/.306/.328 while adjusting to a new defensive position. The Reds moved him from shortstop to center field in the AFL.
Didi Gregorius, Reds -- The 22-year-old native of the Netherlands struck out just four times in 74 at-bats in the AFL, hitting .284/.333/.392 with one home run. Gregorius was a late-season call-up for the Reds, picking up six hits in 21 plate appearances with the Reds.