Reds GM Walt Jocketty concedes that keeping Homer Bailey will be “difficult”

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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.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.