Reds general manager Walt Jocketty admitted earlier this month that it will be “difficult” to keep Homer Bailey, but he still hasn’t given up hope of the possibility.
Bailey, who is entering his final year of arbitration, asked for $11.6 million and was offered $8.7 million when arbitration figures were exchanged yesterday. While a panel of arbitrators could decide on his 2014 salary if the two sides can’t make progress before next month, Jocketty told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that he’s focused on getting a multi-year deal done.
“In Bailey’s case, we were working on a multi-year [deal],” Jocketty said. “The agent [Casey Close] has [Clayton] Kershaw and he has [Masahiro] Tanaka also, so he’s been tied up with that. We just didn’t anticipate getting it done, but we exchanged numbers in the event and we will continue to negotiate and hopefully get something done before the hearing date.
“I am optimistic,” Jocketty said. “I just think it depends on where they feel the market settles in on free-agent pitchers. Hopefully, we’re not too far with our estimate and with their estimate about the market going forward. What it will be based on is what market for a guy like Bailey will be in the future.”
Bailey turns 28 in May and owns a 3.58 ERA in 65 starts over the past two seasons, so he could be looking at a $100 million deal in free agency if he remains healthy and effective in 2014. The Reds will have to make a very generous offer for him to pass up on a chance to test the open market.