The Cincinnati Reds are a team that’s full of players who haven’t reached free agency yet. Many fans and even some in the media have suggested that the team explore extensions on some players. Tim Britton of The Athletic looked around Major League Baseball for contract extension candidates and he saw a potential chance for two Cincinnati players – Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson.
Both players are entering their third full season with the Reds. India was the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year, but in 2022 his offensive output declined as he battled through injuries. For Tyler Stephenson he’s coming off of a season where he hit .319/.372/.482, but a season that he only played 50 games in as he also battled injury.
Neither player is eligible to be a free agent until after the 2026 season. Both will be arbitration eligible next season and will work through that process for 2024, 2025, and 2026 as long as they don’t agree to a contract before then.
Britton’s estimates for both players is for 5-year deals. For Tyler Stephenson he argues that given that he’s coming off of a season in which he missed plenty of time and that the team is exploring the idea of him spending more time not playing catcher than him being behind the plate that it could make some sense for him to take the deal as guys at first base and designated hitter tend to be paid less than catchers when their bats are similar.
For Jonathan India the argument is that he probably shouldn’t be looking to sign an extension coming off of a down season. That makes sense and India is certainly looking to “come back” from his down year. If he can return to what he did during the 2021 season then he’ll be looking at signing a deal worth quite a bit more money than if he were to look at signing a deal today coming off of the 2022 campaign.
The “Trade Rumors”
Edwin Diaz tore his patellar tendon in his right knee during the celebration after Puerto Rico defeated the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. That’s led to the discussion of how the New York Mets would attempt the replace their closer who is coming off of a season where he saved 32 games and posted a 1.31 ERA in 61 appearances. Realistically, they aren’t. There aren’t guys out there who could have 18 walks and 118 strikeouts in 62.0 innings that teams are willing to trade away, and on March 17th they definitely don’t exist on the free agent market.
But someone is going to make the Mets roster now that wasn’t going to before the injury. That’s led to some people exploring the idea that the Mets had last year and attempting to acquire Reds reliever and the brother of Edwin Diaz, Alexis Diaz.
The Mets did try to trade for Alexis Diaz at the deadline last year. Price was too high for them. Going forward, though, it’s something Edwin Diaz would like to see happen.
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) March 16, 2023
The younger Diaz brother posted a 1.84 ERA last season for Cincinnati. In his 59 games he threw 63.2 innings, picked up 10 saves, walked 33 batters, and he struck out 83. An outstanding season, indeed. And it was also his rookie season. That means that he’s under team control for at least five more seasons before he would reach free agency. As noted above in the tweet from Andy Martino – the Reds asking price was too high for the Mets. Now, it’s possible that the injury to Edwin Diaz could change what the Mets would be willing to give up given that they are in need of a replacement for an elite reliever at this point. But Cincinnati’s asking price probably hasn’t changed. Nor should it. Alexis Diaz has elite stuff and his rookie season was outstanding. Toss in the years remaining before free agency and the Reds shouldn’t be looking to move him for anything that doesn’t just blow the doors off. Until the Mets do figure out, though, expect the rumors to pop up just about anywhere you’re looking of them needing to acquire the younger of the Diaz brothers.