There is a sign near Homer Bailey’s locker that reads: “Bow Hunter Parking Only. Violators Will Be Shot.”
Within the next day or two it is expected that Bailey will be rich enough to buy all the parking spaces he needs for his bow-hunting expeditions.
The 27-year-old pitcher, possessor of two no-hitters, said Monday morning that he and the Cincinnati Reds are just a few minor details away from agreeing on a long-term contract. It is believed to be six years for nearly $100 million.
“We have only a few small details remaining to be worked out,” Bailey said. The big details, six years and $100 million, are the important ones and Bailey hopes he signs before Thursday.
“That’s when I have my arbitration hearing. If I have to go I guess I’ll have to go buy a suit. And I don’t own a tie,” said Bailey, whose closet is full of nothing but jeans, flannel shirts and cowboy boots to go with his pick-up truck.
Bailey is asking for $11.5 million for this year and the club is offering $8.5 million. If the two parties don’t agree on a long-term deal before Thursday an arbitration panel will decide whether Bailey makes what he wants for this year or if he makes what the Reds want to pay him.
But even if Bailey goes through the arbitration process he and the Reds still could agree to a long-term deal.
“We have a lot of things in place, in fact, the majority of it toward a deal,” Bailey said. “We are really close. It feels like we’re really close and that’s all I can say right now. This is as confident as I’ve been.”
New manager Bryan Price was asked about the possible signing of Bailey to a long-term contract and he said, “Yeah, that’s good.”
Then he looked at a big white board in his office that lists all the players and their positions and said, “Look at that rotation (Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani) and I wouldn’t mind any of those guys being here long-term. That’s five guys between 24 and 28 years old. I’m not scratching my head wondering if any of those guys will be good long term.”
Yeah, and it would only cost the Reds about $500 million,
“We’ve talked about whether we can keep all those guys here,” Price added. “There will be challenges, but that’s a great group. In my position, I don’t have a lot of control over those things. You can let it consume you as a manager — who can we afford to keep and who can’t we afford to keep. Thank goodness we have that much talent that we have concern over being able to keep our most productive performers.
“But wouldn’t you like to look at this group together for the next five to seven years,” Price said. “But while we have them we’d certainly like to seize the opportunity.”
Bailey, 27, is 49-45 with a 4.25 ERA for his 143 major-league starts over seven years. He was 11-12 with a 3.49 ERA last season and was 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA in 2012. He threw no-hitters in each of the last two years.
It is difficult to believe that Bailey is only 27 and has been with the Reds seven years because he came up when he was 19.
And he was rough, crude and immature at the time. With his immense success at LaGrange (Tex.) High School — 41-4 with a 0.98 ERA and 536 strikeouts in 298 innings — Bailey thought it would come oh so easy. But it came oh so hard.
He didn’t take well to instruction, wanted to do everything his way, didn’t listen to coaches. So he took some whippings, including 0-6 with a 7.93 ERA in 2008 as he bounced up and down between Class AAA Louisville and the Reds.
Suddenly, though, the light flashed on. His approach to the game changed, his listened to advice, his personality changed from glum and dreary to bright and bubbly.
From being a confrontational interview he became a smiling, perceptive and intelligent interview, to say nothing of his advancement on the mound.
He bagged a lion with a bow and arrow two years ago on a hunting expedition and he has bagged two no-hitters the last two years. And now he is about to bag the biggest treasure of all — a $100 million contract.