Now that his bank account is bulging and Homer Bailey has enough money to purchase the Easton Archery Company to satisfy his bow-and-arrow passion, what does he want to do?
“Stay healthy,” said the 27-year-old Cincinnati Reds pitcher after signing a six-year, $105 million deal on Wednesday. “That will be my answer every year. You can just put me down with that answer through 2019.”
In addition to hunting the fat contract he signed, Bailey, as always, spent the winter chasing game with his bow and arrow.
“I was in Canada and Mexico,” he said. “I shot a desert sheep and a Coues deer in Mexico. I didn’t get anything in Canada. If you ever want to lose weight, go sheep hunting. You are up and down and up down and you do a lot of rock climbing. It was great.”
Bailey revealed he has put back a lot of the weight he lost in the off-season when he had hernia surgery.
“I had it at the end of the year and nobody knew about it,” he said. “It wasn’t that important. It didn’t affect my pitching, but I could feel it when I pitched. I figured I’d get it done before it gets any worse. It wasn’t large, just an average one. But I went home right after that and did a bunch of stuff and I’m surprised I didn’t rip open the stitches.”
Bailey said he didn’t ask for a no-hitter incentive clause in his contract after throwing two in the last two years, but laughed and said, “Maybe I should have.”
His contract is creative and the way it works helps the Reds with their cash flow. Bailey will be paid during the season, but some of his pay each year will be disbursed in November when the Reds are getting an influx of season-ticket money for the next season.
It works like this: This year Bailey will get paid $9 million, $3 million during the season and $6 million in November. The deferment continues throughout the contract — 2015: $10 million total, $4 million during the season, $6 million in November; 2016: $18 million, $11 million during the season, $7 million in November; 2017: $19 million, $12 million during the season, $7 million in November; 2018: $21 million, $14 million during the season, $7 million in November; 2019: $23 million, $15 million during the season, $8 million in November.
There was a report last winter that Bailey wanted out of Cincinnati. He denied it and pointed out that he was never quoted as saying that.
“I never saw where I was quoted as saying anything,” he said. “I’ve been traded four times already and I still wear a Reds uniform, right?”
But he did want some assurances because he did consider his free-agent future. So he called manager Bryan Price.
“That’s one of the first things I did when Bryan was announced as the new manager,” said Bailey. “I called Bryan and asked him, ‘Where are we going? What are we trying to do here? If it is one of those things where we are sneaking into third place with a very talented team, I don’t want to be a part of that. I want to be part of a team going deep into the playoffs every year.’ Just talking with him I discovered that’s the goal of the organization and that meant a lot.”
So he is staying another six years, $105 million richer.
“I don’t care how much money you are making, winning and being competitive on the field says a lot about happiness with where you are,” he said.
“When you take a look across the organization you see a lot of good things from our ownership and upper management and our coaching staff is a great group of guys, something that says a lot to me. And we have a core group of players in Cincinnati and a group coming up for things to continue to be good.”
Said General Manager Walt Jocketty after buying out five years of Bailey’s free agency, “Homer is homegrown — drafted, signed and developed by our organization, and it is important to reward our players who have earned his type of respect.
“He has worked hard and overcome a lot of obstacles,” Jocketty added. “He has grown a lot in the few years I’ve been here and has matured into one of the top pitchers in the game today. We couldn’t find a better guy to sign and keep for a long time. We win with pitching and defense and Homer can anchor that rotation and take us to championships.”
Fans were shocked when the Reds signed Joey Votto to a 10-year, $225 million contract and followed that up with the deal for Bailey. Owner Bob Castellini was asked about the Reds, a small-market team, giving out these contracts when many small market teams won’t do it.
“Everybody is reluctant to give out a big contract like this, we’re all human,” said Castellini. “I understand that some small-market teams don’t do it, but I can’t speak for them. We have made a pact with our fans that we will be contenders year-in and year-out. That’s difficult to accomplish, but we’re trying to be sustainable contenders.”