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Reds GM Walt Jocketty concedes that keeping Homer Bailey will be “difficult”

Jan 6, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT

Homer Bailey AP AP

Homer Bailey has been subject to trade speculation this offseason, as he’s entering his final year of arbitration and could land a huge contract on the open market next winter. The Reds are interested in keeping him long-term, but general manager Walt Jocketty told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com earlier today that he understands the reality of the marketplace.

“He would be probably the one guy that’s going to be the most difficult because of how well he’s done and where he’s at in this service class,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “Young pitchers are getting quite a bit.”

“At this point, we really haven’t discussed anybody but Homer to sign long term,” Jocketty said. “Homer is the only one we’ve pursued, but we’ve had internal discussions on the other guys. We just have to see how it all fits in, financially.”

Bailey had his best season yet last year, posting a 3.49 ERA and 199/54 K/BB ratio over 209 innings. He also threw his second career no-hitter. Still just 27 years old, he could command a contract north of $100 million if he remains healthy and effective in 2014.

MLB Trade Rumors projects Bailey to make $9.3 million in his final year of arbitration, so there’s a case to be made to trade him if the Reds don’t think they can sign him to an extension. However, Jocketty said he told clubs during the Winter Meetings that he has no intention to move him. There’s nothing wrong with keeping Bailey around for his walk year, as the Reds are expected to contend and his production in the rotation would be very difficult to replace. The Reds would also be able to make him a qualifying offer, though draft pick compensation would merely be a consolation prize if he ends up elsewhere.

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