by: Andrew Wright
Jay Bruce added a little bling to his trophy case last week with his second consecutive Silver Slugger award. Could the Reds add more bling to his contract this offseason?
The erstwhile Reds right fielder is under team control through 2017. Nonetheless, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports cites Mr. Bruce as a prime candidate for a pre-emptive extension. Why? The market dynamics surrounding a scarcity of power, primarily. The price for 30-homer power is rising, especially after a season that saw only 13 such sluggers. Passan also makes the assumption that the Redlegs will be free from the burden of @DatDudeBP’s contract. He’s as good as gone, cites Passan’s industry source.
Is it a good idea for the Reds to further lock-up the Silver Slugger, presumably into the next decade? Passan cites that only 18 players have hit at least 20 home runs every season from ages 21-26, with the first 11 memorialized in Cooperstown bronze. Bruce is a rare breed and such specimen generally price themselves out of Cincinnati. The contention is that an extension must be done now if it is to be done at all.
My counter-point is this: at what point does a team begin paying for a player’s past instead of his future? The Reds currently own Bruce’s peak production years for a team-friendly $55MM. Is it wise to buy the beginning years of his of career’s likely downward slope? I’m not so sure.
It is entirely possible that Walt Jockety will transfer some of his Gold Glover’s budgeted dollars to his Silver Slugger. It is more probable that he will remember his own blueprint to success: cheap homegrown talent.
The Reds are a 90-plus win team because their farm system has produced big-league talent, giving them payroll flexibility. Chances are, Jocketty stays in love with Jay Bruce’s current contract.