Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey put all of those offseason rumors of a trade to rest today as he inked a healthy deal to stay with the Reds. Initial reports have the deal coming in around 6 years and $105 million. For a pitcher who has thrown two no-hitters in his short career already, and who was once a top 10 prospect, this probably comes as no surprise. But a few questions do remain.
Lastly, and most importantly, is this contract worth it? (Yes, that really is the order of operations here.)
Homer Bailey isn’t a household name. Homer might be, but for different reasons. Homer Bailey, though, is a different story. As previously mentioned, Bailey was a top prospect and the #7 draft selection in the 2004 draft for the Reds. Upon reaching the majors in 2007, it took him until 2012 to get his ERA under 4.43. But if you look at his trends over the last few years, you might notice what exactly the Reds see in their potential future ace.
Since 2008, Bailey’s ERA, WHIP, H/9IP, and BB/9IP have annually decreased. During that same run, his innings, K/9IP, and K:BB ratio have all increased. Looking deeper into the numbers, his swing rate has risen over the last few years (from 45.9% in 2009 to 48.6% in 2013) while his contact rate has dropped (from 88.4% in 2008 to 77.5% in 2013). This means he’s making hitters swing (and miss) a lot more. Also worth noting is that he’s pitching with higher velocity, as his average fastball speed has gone up roughly 2 mph since 2008. Not too shabby of a turnaround. And it’s obvious the Reds realized this.
Statistically, Mat Latos had an arguably better year last season for the Reds. And they also have Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake in the fold. All three of these pitchers will be testing free agency in the next couple of years so it will be interesting to see how the Reds play this one out. However, with the amount of money they just bequeathed to Bailey, and their perpetual insistence on being a mid-market team, it will be surprising to see them hold on to all of these players come signing time.