Hunter Greene and the Reds agree to a 6-year, $53 million extension

Jeff BassinESPN2 minutes to read

Hunter Green and the Cincinnati Reds right-hander have agreed to a six-year, $53 million contract extension, pending physical examination, sources told ESPN, tying baseball’s toughest long-term start with the organization that has never done so before. No guaranteed salary for players after this season.

Green, 23, made his debut last year as rebuilding Cincinnati remained a work in progress. The arrival of superstars Nick Ludolo and Graham Ashcraft alongside Green has brought some semblance of hope once again to the organization that made the final playoffs outside of the coronavirus-shortened 2013 season.

The deal starts this season and buys out two years of free agency Greene, with the club’s option for a seventh year worth $21 million that includes a $2 million buyout. If the Reds pick the option, Green will hit the open market after his 29-year-old season. The deal, the largest the Reds award to a player before he gets to arbitration, could reach more than $90 million using escalators.

Signing pitchers at this age is a rarity — Green joins Felix Hernandez and Atlanta Braves star Spencer Stryder as the juniors — but Green brings a rare combination of qualities. His fastball is around 99 mph and he’s topped out at 102 this season. But his slider, which he now throws about 40% of the time, may be his most effective kick.

Even if he doesn’t develop a third show to use regularly, Green could outlive the shows he gets. Having struck out 164 over 125 2/3 innings during a rookie season in which he posted a 4.44 ERA, Greene has struck out at a higher average in his four starts this season. While his ERA is 4.24, Greene was saddled with a . 413 average on balls during the game. Once that is normalized, its age will likely follow.

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Selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft out of the Los Angeles area, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Greene underwent Tommy John surgery after just over a year and missed the 2019 season. He spent 2020 at the Reds’ alternate position and went over From two and a half years between competitive games before spending 2021, he was a Double-A and Triple-A player.

The Reds placed Green on the opening roster last year, and he started the first game of the season for a 7-9 team after going 3-22 to start 2022. Cincinnati, which already carries one of the lowest payrolls in the major leagues, previously only had a 6.25. $1 million committed in future years: $4 million to cover the option purchase of released player Mike Moustakas, $2.25 million for the acquisitions of first base Will Myers and the 2024 Cats Curt Casale mutual options.

More than half of Cincinnati’s current estimated salary of $83 million will go to star Joey Votto, who is on the injured list, and Moustakas.

The Reds’ farm system is considered one of the best in the game, with the dynamism of Eli de la Cruz on the cusp of the big leagues and last July’s Cincinnati trade gems Luis Castillo, Edwin Arroyo and third baseman Noelvi Marte, not far away.

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