Homer Bailey has been subject to trade speculation this offseason, as he’s entering his final year of arbitration and could land a huge contract on the open market next winter. The Reds are interested in keeping him long-term, but general manager Walt Jocketty told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com earlier today that he understands the reality of the marketplace.
“He would be probably the one guy that’s going to be the most difficult because of how well he’s done and where he’s at in this service class,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “Young pitchers are getting quite a bit.”
“At this point, we really haven’t discussed anybody but Homer to sign long term,” Jocketty said. “Homer is the only one we’ve pursued, but we’ve had internal discussions on the other guys. We just have to see how it all fits in, financially.”
Bailey had his best season yet last year, posting a 3.49 ERA and 199/54 K/BB ratio over 209 innings. He also threw his second career no-hitter. Still just 27 years old, he could command a contract north of $100 million if he remains healthy and effective in 2014.
MLB Trade Rumors projects Bailey to make $9.3 million in his final year of arbitration, so there’s a case to be made to trade him if the Reds don’t think they can sign him to an extension. However, Jocketty said he told clubs during the Winter Meetings that he has no intention to move him. There’s nothing wrong with keeping Bailey around for his walk year, as the Reds are expected to contend and his production in the rotation would be very difficult to replace. The Reds would also be able to make him a qualifying offer, though draft pick compensation would merely be a consolation prize if he ends up elsewhere.
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.