Homer Bailey denies that he wants out of Cincinnati

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There has been plenty of speculation on Homer Bailey’s future this offseason, with Reds general manager Walt Jocketty recently conceding that it will be “difficult” to sign him to an extension, but the right-hander tells FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that he hasn’t dismissed the possibility of staying in Cincinnati.

“To say that I ‘want out of Cincinnati’ is not true,” said Bailey, who is from La Grange, Texas. “I have nothing but good things to say about ownership and management, and I hold a great relationship with the coaching staff.

“If I am in the organization’s future, my priorities are that things make sense for me on the business end, that we are a team that continues to be a highly competitive team in the league and a team that plays the game the right way.”

There’s nothing particularly surprising about that statement, but the key is the part about whether “things make sense for me on the business end.” Bailey is due to hit free agency next offseason and given his age and career trajectory, the 27-year-old could land a contract north of $100 million on the open market. Even if he hasn’t ruled out staying in Cincinnati, the price simply could get higher than the Reds are willing to go.

Bailey has bounced back from early injuries and disappointment to post a 3.58 ERA over the past two seasons, throwing two no-hitters along the way. With MLB Trade Rumors projecting him to earn $9.3 million in his final year of arbitration, contract talks with the Reds are on “hold” at the moment.

Rays sign lefty Ryan Merritt to a minor league deal

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The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.

Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.

His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.

The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.