With the news coming out of Cincinnati, that starting pitcher Homer Bailey is having another surgery on his elbow, it once again forces us to look at the massive contract that Bailey signed with the team and what could have been. Bailey signed a six-year, $105 million extension before the 2014 season and it was rationalized as locking down a young pitcher, with early success. However it is now at the top of the game as one of the worst contracts in baseball.
When you think about terrible contracts in baseball, you think about some past big market failures (Pablo Sandoval, Carl Crawford, Rusney Castillo, Hector Olivera etc.) it has been made by teams with disposable income, who are seeking to compete. The reason why the Bailey contract is so poor is because of how that failure affected their future decisions.
The Reds elected to make a strong run at re signing Bailey over their other top pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. Had the team saved that money and instead signed Cueto, they could have kept the better core together, and if they had ultimately needed to sell, they may have been able to hang on to Aroldis Chapman until a Cubs style return was offered. Instead, the team now has a pitcher in Bailey who has made eight starts the past two seasons, and will already open on the disabled list once again.
While the Reds were able to add All-Star Adam Duvall and nice young arm Brandon Finnegan, so far the immediate returns haven't looked sharp. John Lamb is out of the organization, Cody Reed is off to a shaky start in the majors, Caleb Cotham was a failure and Tony Renda is off the 40-man roster. While some of the biggest prospects have yet to debut (see Keury Mella and Rookie Davis), these poor returns have set the Reds rebuild back even further.
It is always difficult to predict injuries and production, but the gamble is far greater for a smaller market like Cincinnati. While they will be searching for long term rotation answers, what could have been looms large. Hindsight is 20/20, but ultimately, the Reds are likely looking back at the Bailey contract as a failure.