MLB

Rosenthal: Homer Bailey denies he wants out of Cincy

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey
Homer Bailey is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.
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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

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Three times this offseason — from three different sources — I heard that Reds right-hander Homer Bailey wanted out of Cincinnati.

On Friday, I spoke with Bailey and asked if it was true that he would not sign a contract extension with the Reds.

Bailey, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the 2014 season, made it quite clear that he was willing to stay with the club long term.

“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.”

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty also dismissed the notion that Bailey is looking to leave Cincinnati, citing the pitcher's affinity for new Reds manager — and former pitching coach — Bryan Price.

“He has quietly told a couple of people in our organization that he’s very happy here, that he respects the people in the organization and what they’ve done for him in his career. And I know he and Bryan have a great relationship,” Jocketty said.

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The question, then, is whether the Reds will sign Bailey to an extension or face losing a pitcher who has thrown no-hitters in each of the past two seasons.

Bailey, who turns 28 on May 3, is projected to earn $9.3 million in his final year of arbitration, according to Matt Swartz of MLBTradeRumors.com.

“We have made an offer. They have responded,” Jocketty said. “We’ll continue to negotiate into spring training and hopefully get something done by the start of the season.”

Bailey declined comment on the negotiations, and Jocketty said they currently are on “hold.”

The talks do not figure to accelerate until after arbitration figures are exchanged Jan. 17, and perhaps not until after the top free-agent starting pitchers sign their new deals.

Bailey’s agent, Casey Close of Excel Sports, also represents Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw and Dodgers righty Zack Greinke, among others.

Close currently is occupied; the deadline for Tanaka to sign with a major-league club is Jan. 24. Bailey, before negotiating further with the Reds, likely will want to know the contract details for righties Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza, all of whom remain free agents.

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All three of those pitchers are at least two years older than Bailey. And, as the following chart shows, none of them performed as well as Bailey during the 2012 and ’13 seasons.

The combined numbers below include ERA-plus, a statistic that adjusts a pitcher’s ERA to his ballpark and the ERA of his league, with the average set at 100.

                     IP        ERA            ERA-plus

Bailey        417         3.58           111

Garza         259         3.86           105

Santana     389         4.12             97

Jimenez     359.1      4.33             88

Bailey’s overall career numbers are less impressive because he made only 19 starts in 2010 and 22 in ’11 due to shoulder trouble. But he has been healthy the past two seasons, and only 11 pitchers have thrown more innings during that time.

Another big season could position Bailey for a monster payday in free agency. Kershaw, Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer and Red Sox lefty Jon Lester also are eligible to hit the market, but one or more of them could sign extensions.

The Reds, meanwhile, not only face the potential departure of Bailey after this season, but also the possible losses of righties Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos after 2015.

The team holds a $10 milion option on Cueto for ’15. Latos will be in his final year of arbitration that season.

Tagged: Rangers, Reds, Dodgers, Matt Garza, Homer Bailey, Mat Latos

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