The Reds have signed third baseman Eugenio Suarez to a 7-year extension that includes a club option for an eighth year, per a club announcement. The deal is worth $66 million, and buys out all three of Suarez’s arbitration years and what would have been four free-agent years. If Suarez’s $15 million team option is picked up, the deal will reach $79 million over an eight-year term (the $2 million buyout accounts for that $2 million difference in math).
Suarez, who will turn 27 in July, is coming off off of a breakout season in which he slashed .260/.367/.461, clubbing 26 home runs and 25 doubles. Suarez was especially lethal at home, posting an excellent .978 OPS at Great American Ball Park, with 21 of his home runs in front of the home crowd. Suarez also proved to be an adept defender at third base, worth 5 DRS. There’s really not any glaring flaw in Suarez’s game, as he walks a lot while limiting strikeouts to a reasonable level, and his poor road performance in 2017 is probably more of an aberration than a sign of things to come.
With top prospect Nick Senzel waiting in the wings, a move back to his original position of shortstop could be in Suarez’s future, although he has been worth -17 DRS when playing up the middle, and Senzel will be playing some shortstop in the minors this season. Senzel is yet to play in AAA but has torn through the minors, slashing .315/.393/.514 over his season-and-a-half since being drafted. GM Dick Williams mentioned in Suarez’s press conference that Senzel didn’t factor into the decision to extend Suarez at all, opining that it’s never an issue to have too many offensive pieces around long-term.
Suarez joins Joey Votto and catcher Tucker Barnhart as key long-term offensive pieces locked up to guaranteed deals through at least 2021. Over at Roster Resource, I project the Reds payroll for 2018 at just a tick under $100 million with Suarez’s new deal.