Homer Bailey, Reds Progressing Toward Deal

WEDNESDAY: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the contract will be worth $100-110MM and contain an option for a seventh season. Tomorrow's arbitration hearing is unlikely to happen, Heyman adds.

TUESDAY: Bailey and the Reds are "on the one-yard line" in their extension talks, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio.

MONDAY: Bailey confirmed to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he and the Reds are getting closer to a multi-year extension, though he didn't comment on specific parameters: "We're going in the right direction. The majority of it is worked out," the right-hander told Fay (Twitter links).

SUNDAY: Homer Bailey and the Reds are "getting close" on a six-year deal worth around $100MM, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tweets. Earlier today, ESPN's Jim Bowden reported Reds GM Walt Jocketty had said he was hopeful the two sides could reach a deal. Bailey is represented by Excel Sports Management.

Bailey is eligible for free agency after the season, and as a relatively young pitcher coming off a strong season in Cincinnati (209 innings, 3.49 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 2.3 BB/9), he figures to be in line for a large contract once he does. Bailey has asked for $11.6MM in his last year of arbitration eligibility, with the Reds filing for $8.7MM. He made $5.35MM in 2013.

If Bailey were to sign a six-year, $100MM contract, it would essentially amount to a five-year, $90MM deal that begins in 2015, given that the arbitration process controls his 2014 salary. Such a deal would likely have made Bailey the second-highest-paid pitcher in this year's free-agent class, behind Masahiro Tanaka (depending, of course, on the contracts Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana receive, although it's difficult to see either of them approaching $90MM). That seems reasonable, given Bailey's age and talent. Clayton Kershaw's recent seven-year, $215MM contract came with between five and six years of service time, although clearly, Bailey isn't Kershaw's peer. Another recent touchstone for pitchers approaching free agency was Cole Hamels' six-year, $144MM contract, signed halfway through the 2012 season.

If the Reds are able to sign Bailey, it will reduce the amount of talent in the 2014-15 free agent starting pitching class, which also includes Max Scherzer and James Shields. Bailey's deal would come in the midst of a flurry of February extensions that includes Coco Crisp of the Athletics, Michael Brantley of the Indians, and Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran and Craig Kimbrel of the Braves.

For the Reds, signing Bailey long-term would be by far the biggest move in what's been a quiet offseason — since firing manager Dusty Baker, the Reds have traded catcher Ryan Hanigan to the Rays, re-signed reliever Manny Parra, and added infielder Skip Schumaker and catcher Brayan Pena. They've also lost star outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and pitcher Bronson Arroyo to free agency. 

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