Homer Bailey rumors: Reds not optimistic about extension

Denis Poroy

The Reds would love to extend Bailey, who is just now entering his prime. However, he may be too expensive for their tastes.

Cincinnati Reds general manager Walt Jocketty believes it will be difficult to come to an agreement with starting pitcher Homer Bailey on a contract extension, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.

Bailey is heading into his third year of arbitration and his final year of team control. He will be a free agent after the 2014 season if the Reds are unable to sign him to a multi-year contract. However, due to how well he has pitched in recent years and how much money players have been earning this offseason, Bailey may be out of Cincinnati's price range.

Because he appears unlikely to sign a deal, Bailey had been the subject of trade rumors earlier in the offseason. Little came of that as the Reds' first option would be to keep Bailey and thus would need a very good package of players in return. At the winter meetings, Jocketty told interested clubs that the team was not looking to trade Bailey.

The Reds will likely lose starter Bronson Arroyo to free agency this offseason as rumors have swirled about him all offseason. Tony Cingrani, who made 18 starts with a 2.92 ERA in 2013, is moving into the rotation to take his place. The Reds have few other options in the top levels of the minors, so losing Bailey would leave a big hole. The free agent market this offseason has moved rather slow for players like Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza, so if the Reds were overwhelmed by an offer for Bailey they could initiate talks with one of those players.

Bailey is still just 27 years old and is coming off two good seasons after early struggles and injuries in his career. After a 4.89 ERA through parts of five seasons, Bailey broke through with a 3.68 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 2012. He was even better in 2013 with a 3.49 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and 199 strikeouts to just 52 walks. He has thrown no-hitters in each of the last two seasons.

Bailey was the seventh overall pick in the 2004 draft and was a top-10 prospect nationwide as he made his way through the minors. He made $5.35 million in 2013 while MLB Trade Rumors projects that he will receive $9.3 million in arbitration this year.

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