Sorry for the long delay- life gets in the way sometimes. On the other hand, my Bears are now 2-0, and that's pretty interesting I suppose. Jay Cutler has looked pretty great so far, and getting through two weeks without getting pissed off and leaving the TV is something that doesn't happen too often for me.
Getting back into it, the Reds have a pretty solid number of arbitration-eligible pieces, and presumably they won't want to shuffle things around too much considering how well 2010 has gone. The core of the team is set for the most part, so obviously you have to wonder if this is the beginning of a pretty positive era in Cincinnati Reds baseball. Here are some quick explanations of the arbitration system, service time, and "Super Twos" for those who aren't totally familiar, courtesy of MLBTR.
And as always, we're doing these in order of each player's respective 2010 salary like I did in the previous posts, and any references to a raise are based on those salaries as well.
RHP Jared Burton - 2nd season of arbitration (Super Two) - Non-tender
It's not easy to tender a 29-year-old reliever that's spent the majority of the season either on the disabled list or in Triple-A. His velocity is down from 2007-2008, and his walk rate has never been a major positive. He's shown flashes of being a useful reliever, like his solid 2008 performance, but that's far enough in the rear-view mirror that he doesn't really deserve a tender on that basis. He's a guy that's worth bringing back at the right price, but I don't think that price is going to come through arbitration.
OF Laynce Nix - 3rd season of arbitration - Non-tender
Now, this isn't necessarily because Nix isn't a good player. He's put up 2.4 WAR in his past 510 plate appearances, which can't really be seen as anything but a positive. I just don't know where Nix would play, and the team has other guys who deserve playing time more than the soon-to-be 30-year-old veteran. Even if the Reds decline Jonny Gomes' $1.75M club option and choose to non-tender him, they still have Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, Chris Heisey, Wladimir Balentien, Juan Francisco and possibly Todd Frazier, all of whom are younger and cheaper than Nix. I just don't think it's worth bringing back either Nix or Gomes at this point, as I would argue that neither one is among the top-4 outfielders in that organization right now.
1B Joey Votto - 1st season of arbitration - Tender, raise from $0.55M
He's been worth 15.5 wins in the past three seasons. In each of the past three seasons, he's gradually improved in almost every facet of his game, hitting for more power and a higher average while adding to his walk rate. He's put up more batting runs this season than Mark Teixeira and Joe Mauer combined. He's firmly established himself as an elite-level player, one of the very best first basemen in all of baseball. The Reds needed a cornerstone, and they absolutely have one in Joey Votto.
RHP Johnny Cueto - 1st season of arbitration - Tender, raise from $0.45M
RHP Edinson Volquez - 1st season of arbitration - Tender, raise form $0.45M
I thought I would bunch the two right-handers together, as they're both obvious tenders for similar reasons. Volquez was the young stud in the 2008 rotation, and Cueto has been a similar revelation for the 2010 club. They aren't exactly similar in style- they both throw very hard (92-93 MPH fastballs), but Volquez misses more bats and has larger command issues. But in general, they're both locks for the 2011 rotation, and they could potentially combine to be an impressive one-two punch at the top of the rotation.
Volquez is still getting the rust off after missing most of 2008 and 2009 with an elbow injury, but his ability to miss bats is truly special. He's capable of being devastatingly good when his command is on and he's locating his stuff. Cueto doesn't miss as many bats, but he's also a more efficient pitcher that walks less hitters. His whiff and contact rate numbers indicate that he should miss more bats than he does, but he's been able to show improvement this year anyways in the form of a lower walk rate.
In general, I think the Reds are going to have a seriously nice problem on their hands in 2011: too many good arms and not enough room in the rotation. I don't know how they can bring back Bronson Arroyo if they want to make room for Volquez, Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Travis Wood... and we haven't even talked about that one Cuban kid that can throw 103 MPH yet.
LHP Bill Bray - 1st season of arbitration - Tender, raise from $0.4M
Bray's cheap enough and intriguing enough that he's worth giving another shot. He's only 27 and he's looked pretty solid in his 27-inning stint with the club this season, showing the same ability to miss bats that made him a solid reliever in 2008. His command is still a problem, but he's been the victim of some fluky batted ball numbers and there's a chance that his command will improve as he gets farther away from the Tommy John surgery that wiped out his 2009 season. I just see enough reasons to believe that he'll be good that it's worth taking a flier on him- maybe he emerges as the team's top lefty considering that Arthur Rhodes hits free agency after the season.