The Reds have had some “preliminary talks” with Graham Ashcraft’s camp about a possible contract extension, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The report comes just a few days after news broke that Hunter Greene had signed a six-year, $53MM extension with the club, and Cincinnati is also apparently looking into a long-term deal with Nick Lodolo.
As Nightengale’s phrasing would suggest, it doesn’t appear the Reds and Ashcraft’s reps at the Bledsoe Agency are necessarily close on a deal, or even if negotiations have gone beyond an exploratory stage. However, it makes sense that the Reds would also turn to Ashcraft in their attempts to gain some long-term control and cost certainty over their young rotation members, though talks with Ashcraft could take a different shape than the negotiations with Greene or Lodolo.
For one, Ashcraft’s path to the big leagues has come with a lot less fanfare. Both Greene and Lodolo were highly touted first-round draft picks (Greene second overall in 2017, Lodolo seventh overall in 2019) and fixtures on top-100 prospect rankings during their time in Cincinnati’s farm system. By contrast, Ashcraft was a sixth-round pick in the 2019 draft, though he made a pretty quick rise up the ladder after posting a 3.33 ERA and 26.17% strikeout rate over 203 career innings in the minors.
Ashcraft made his MLB debut last May as a COVID-related substitute on the Reds’ roster, and then after a brief return to Triple-A came back to the big leagues for good less than a week later. The righty’s rookie year saw him post a 4.89 ERA over 105 innings, displaying elite velocity (97.1mph on his fastball), a 54.5% grounder rate, an above-average 6.5% walk rate, and solid work in limiting hard contact. Ashcraft didn’t miss many bats, however, as his 15.3% strikeout rate was one of the lower marks in the majors. Thus far in 2023, the advanced metrics haven’t loved Ashcraft’s work, but he has an impressive 1.88 ERA over 24 innings, while generating groundballs 57.8% of the time — a .250 BABIP has undoubtedly contributed to Ashcraft’s success given this grounder-heavy approach.
This is nothing new for Ashcraft, whose overall grounder rate in the minors topped the 55% threshold. Between that ability to avoid fly balls and his high velo, there’s some interesting potential for the 25-year-old going forward, even if Ashcraft has yet to really show any strikeout ability at the MLB level. If Greene and Lodolo might have more of a front-of-the-rotation ceiling, Ashcraft has shown early signs that he could settle in as a comfortable mid-rotation arm.
Since Ashcraft is already controlled through the 2028 season, there isn’t necessarily any urgency on the Reds’ part to reach a long-term deal. It is perhaps worth wondering if Ashcraft might be more open to an extension in order to lock in the first big payday of his pro career. Ashcraft agreed to a modest $247.5K signing bonus after being drafted, as opposed to the much larger bonuses received by Lodolo ($5.4MM) and Greene ($7.23MM) befitting their higher draft status.
This one belongs to the Reds
As it should be.
I am enjoying how you’re the first comment on here with that splendid account name 🙂
This seems like a good sign for the team and the fans to hopefully build a competive club in the near future.
Nice flurry of extension (talks) ala San Diego and Atlanta for Cincinnati. Interesting take on locking up all these players young, before they have a chance to “prove” it long term in the majors. Be interesting to see how all these contracts fare 6-10 years from now opposed to the sign and lock like with a (Angels) Puljos but still driving revenue thru the gates…. I’m sure it’s a bargain and better than dragging your players thru arbitration.
Dr. Chim Richalds
Graham Ashcraft sounds like the name of a guy who plays bass in a band, whose music is played on Alt-Nation.
This one belongs to the Reds
Word has it on off days, he plays acoustic guitar at Potbelly’s downtown.
The signing of Hunter Greene was the best move the Reds have made in Two years. Extending Lodolo and Ashcraft would be very encouraging. I am not a fan of Red’s ownership, but credit where credit is due.
More than 50% of their payroll is going to votto and moose while they can’t fill out a rotation yet let disco walk when he’s a reputable starter not making more than 10 mil a season.
Not a fan of reds ownership. And giving credit where credit is due !
Ashcraft has around 250 million reasons to pursue free agency if the Reds don’t give him a new contract.
He’s already 25 so that’s 31 in 6 years. Not sure if a 31 year old ashcraft is going to ink a 10 year 250 million dollar deal
I like this, alot. They’ve also talked to Lodolos people. If they make these commitments that’s a huge win for ’23. The only thing I question is should they go position player next, Stephenson..