The Reds locked down a hopeful core member for at least the next six years earlier this week when signing righty Hunter Greene to a $53MM extension, and they’re hopeful of doing so with another promising young arm. Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that Cincinnati has been discussing an extension with left-hander Nick Lodolo as well.
There are plenty of similarities between Lodolo and Greene. Both are former top-10 overall draft picks — Greene No. 2 in 2017, Lodolo No. 7 in 2019 — and both entered the 2023 season with exactly one year of Major League service after debuting for the Reds early in the 2022 season. Both pitchers were widely regarded as top-100 prospects in the sport before making their respective Major League debuts last year.
That’s not to suggest that Lodolo should or will sign on for identical terms, but the framework is likely one that could interest the Reds. Both Greene ($7.23MM) and Lodolo ($5.4MM) signed life-changing signing bonuses out of the draft, arguably creating less urgency for either pitcher to sign a long-term contract. That didn’t stop Greene from doing so, but every player’s personal motivations, appetite for risk, etc. are different, of course.
It’s not clear when or whether talks between the Reds and Lodolo’s reps at Excel Sports Management will gain steam, but the team’s interest in hammering out a long-term contract shouldn’t come as a great surprise. Lodolo made the transition from the upper minors to MLB rather seamlessly in 2022, pitching 103 1/3 innings of 3.66 ERA ball in his debut campaign. His 29.7% strikeout rate trailed only his own teammate, Greene, and breakout Braves righty Spencer Strider among rookie starters last season. Loosening the parameters and looking at all MLB pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched in ’22, Lodolo ranked 14th out of 124 in terms of strikeout rate.
Lodolo paired that innate ability to miss bats with a solid 8.8% walk rate and an above-average 46% grounder rate. Were it not for a lower back strain that wiped out all of May and June for the left-hander, Lodolo might well have factored into NL Rookie of the Year voting. The aforementioned Strider and his teammate Michael Harris were always the runaway favorites, but given the absolute tear on which Lodolo finished out the season, a larger number of innings might’ve had him in the running.
While Lodolo was hit hard in two of his first three starts off the injured list last season, he found his stride over his final 13 trips to the hill. In that time, he pitched 77 innings of 2.92 ERA ball with a 30% strikeout rate — including a 2.48 ERA and 35% strikeout rate in the season’s final month. At the very least, with better health, he might’ve wound up in third on the ballot rather than his eventual sixth-place finish.
In 2023, Lodolo was sharp through three turns, with a scoreless, seven-inning, 12-strikeout gem in Philadelphia standing out as the headliner. The Rays trounced him for eight runs earlier this week, ballooning his season ERA to 4.98 overall. However, Lodolo’s strikeout and ground-ball rates are near mirror images of his 2022 marks, and his walk rate is actually down two percentage points in 2023. The 25-year-old southpaw’s young career has produced an overall 3.89 ERA, 29.7% strikeout rate, 8.4% walk rate and 46.2% ground-ball rate in 125 innings, giving the Reds’ front office plenty of reason to believe he can join Greene and righty Graham Ashcraft as cornerstones of the current rebuild.
As it stands, the Reds control Lodolo through the end of the 2027 season, and he’d be eligible for arbitration following the 2025 season. He still has all three minor league option years remaining, so it’s technically possible that those trajectories could be impacted if he struggles for an extended period and is optioned to Triple-A. Aside from a couple of hiccups (e.g. that clunker against the Rays), however, there’s not much in Lodolo’s first 23 big league starts that suggests he needs any additional seasoning in the upper minors.
6 years 60m with 2 optional years to make it worth 100m.
Wow. Wow! WOW!
Watch him get lit up like a postgame fireworks show.
Interesting for a team to negotiate at the same time with two players both in almost identical situations. Greene’s agent holding his breath hoping Lodolo’s camp doesn’t beat their deal.
Very interesting issue, I think seen it before
I’m not sure I’d trust a team that gave Homer Baily 100 million+ & Joey Votto 200 million+, to extend anybody.
Because Bailey got hurt and Votto outplayed his deal? Jesus, Votto has an MVP, should’ve won another in 2017, and is a future HoFer
Bailey was NEVER a 100 million dollar pitcher. I don’t care about a couple no hitters, because consistency is much more important. And Votto is more valuable to “Tik Tok”, than he’s EVER been to the Cincinnati Reds.
You’re a troll
His last four out of five years have been more than miserable. He blames it on his shoulder. That’s fine, why didn’t he get it fixed when it first was bothering him. Overrated for a 10 year deal that is.
Interesting definition of misery. I recommend checking his numbers again. He outplayed that deal and most teams would have loved to have that deal in hindsight
Just put in a clause that he is not allowed to face the Rays.
Don’t extend him too much.
You’ll strain something.
This one belongs to the Reds
I am glad to see they are making a commitment to the future.
Some of these sams fans would complain if they didn’t too.
You just can’t make some keyboard warriors in mom’s basement happy.
Odd decisions by my reds. This ownership thing is trying at a gamble to extended these two now assuming they’ll pan out in order to stay under market value. Meanwhile, no talks with India or Stephenson who have now more service time?
What’s strange? They have numerous middle IF coming up. I’d expect India to move to OF or be traded. Stephenson needs to improve behind the dish and/or hit for more power first.
We also numerous SP coming up. It just a big gamble from a cheap franchise to try and beat an arbitration salary.
This one belongs to the Reds
I suspect those are coming, they are just working on locking up ghe big 3 pitchers first.
Numerous IF in the minors do not necessarily make big leaguers. They are suspects until they prove something. After all, Paul Householder was supposed to be the next Willie Mays and Billy Beane was going to be a superstar.
Odd decisions by my reds. This ownership is trying at a gamble to extended these two now assuming they’ll pan out in order to stay under market value. Meanwhile, no talks with India or Stephenson who have now more service time?
This one belongs to the Reds
These kinds of extensions are what small market teams have to try to do to survive and stay relevant in this crazy fouled up system that gives all the advantages to large markets.