Jerry Crasnick reports that the Reds and Jay Bruce have come to terms on a 6 year $51M contract extension with an option for a seventh year. If the option is exercised, the deal’s total value would max out at $63M.* This contract buys out each of Bruce’s three seasons of arbitration eligibility.
* Special note to the Colorado Rockies. Before you sign Carlos Gonzalez to a ridiculous contract, please take a look at what the Reds did with Jay Bruce. It’s smart, team friendly, and locks one of their best players up through his age-30 season.
After two years of disappointing performance, Bruce broke out in a big way in 2010 hitting .281/.353/.493 (.363 wOBA), while providing stellar defense in right field (+20.2 UZR, +17 DRS). He also finished the season as the National League’s twelfth most valuable player, per Fangraphs WAR, providing 5.3 wins above the replacement level. That’s pretty impressive for a 23 year old. Most players his age are still playing in A and AA ball.
Bruce is going into his age-24 season, so far more likely to improve than not. As he matures, we can expect him to not only improve his plate discipline, but also take greater advantage of playing half of his games in the home run friendly environment known as Great American Ballpark. If 2010 is any indication, Bruce should be an offensive and defensive force for the next several years.
I really like this move by the Reds. The Reds can rest easy knowing they’ve locked up Bruce to a contract that covers his most productive seasons. When the contract ends, he’ll likely have priced himself out of the Reds budget. That’s ok though. The Reds can always let some other team overpay him for his decline years.