Unless the Reds can find a tree nearby Great American Ball Park that produces endless amounts of cash, it seems unlikely they will be able to retain Homer Bailey beyond this upcoming season. In fact, some believe Bailey may not be around at all once the July 31 trade deadline comes and goes in 2014.
Regardless of what happens, barring the two sides reaching a contract extension, Bailey is all set to become one of the most sought after pitchers on the free agent market next winter, which also makes the native Texan in line to receive a huge payday. But how many years and how much money might the right-hander be projected to receive? ESPN Insider and Sirius XM radio host Jim Bowden provides his thoughts on the matter in a recent post where he highlights five pitchers set to sign big contracts come 2014.
Bailey has the potential to lead a staff, but projecting his free-agent contract this early is tricky. The 28-year-old is just entering the prime of his career and has the talent, repertoire and maturity to break out this year, which could lead to a monster contract -- if he doesn't sign a contract extension with the Reds before next offseason. For the Reds, the best time to sign him is now, otherwise he could become too expensive next fall.
Bailey has had back-to-back solid years, winning in double digits, posting ERAs in the mid-3s and logging more than 200 innings in each. If he does live up to his potential this season and posts another season at that level, watch out. He could end up with a much bigger contract than the one predicted here.
For the record, Bowden predicts that Bailey will receive a contract worth $102 million over six seasons. Bowden also puts the percentage chance of Bailey leaving Cincinnati at 50 percent and lists the Yankees, Braves, Dodgers, Angels, Blue Jays, and Cubs as potential suitors.
It's a shame if the Reds won't be able to afford him. The organization has invested so much in Bailey since drafting him in the first round of the 2004 draft. We have seen the 28-year-old pitch through his highest of highs (two no-hitters) and his lowest of lows (mighty struggles in mid-2000s). It took awhile for Bailey to finally develop into the ace caliber pitcher everyone hoped he would be, but the fact is that he has blossomed into that kind of pitcher now, and it's unfortunate that another franchise with deeper pockets will likely get to revel in the spoils produced by Cincinnati's years of diligent grooming.