‘Little Trio’ putting up big numbers for Reds
There are three players who are getting paid the most, and then there are three players who are paying off the most.
Looking at the production this season — and mind you it’s only the midseason point — the Cincinnati Reds’ three highest paid players are being outshined by three of the lowest paid teammates.
At the top of the pay scale are first baseman Joey Votto, second baseman Brandon Phillips and rightfielder Jay Bruce.
Votto has a contract that averages $25 million per year and he is making $12M this season. Phillips and Bruce have similar long-term deals with high average rates along with incentives. Phillips will make $11.1M and Bruce $10M this season.
Those salaries increase over the next two years with Votto getting $14M and $20M, Phillips $12M and $13M, and Bruce $12M and $12.5M.
Pitchers Johnny Cueto at $10M and Homer Bailey $9M are next on the salary scale. Cueto’s salary actually drops two million and there is no deal for 2016. That is expected to change when you consider Bailey will go to $10M next year and jump to $18M the following year.
Ryan Ludwick is at $8.5M, Mat Latos $7.25M, Jonathan Broxton $7M and Aroldis Chapman $5.8M.
As a team, Cincinnati is 11th overall in salaries at $112,378,772 million.
At the bottom of the payroll are third baseman Todd Frazier, catcher Devin Mesoraco and centerfielder Billy Hamilton.
Although I would gladly trade them paychecks, compared to their teammates the trio are paupers in today’s market.
Frazier makes $600,000, Mesoraco $525,000 and Hamilton — a rookie — a team-low $500,000.
Frazier and Mesoraco can go to arbitration the next two years. Hamilton is stuck in the union salary structure agreement for awhile.
Votto’s numbers so far are a .260 batting average with six home runs, 22 runs batted in and 14 doubles in just 55 games due to an injury. Amazingly, he leads the team with 45 walks.
Phillips has fared a little better, but he hasn’t missed hardly any games. In 74 contests and 294 at-bats, he is hitting .276 with six HRs, 34 RBI and a team-high 19 doubles.
Bruce — also plagued early by an injury — has played in 62 games and has but seven homers, 31 RBIs, a .244 average and is second on the team with 17 doubles. However, he is tied for the team lead with Frazier in one category: 70 strikeouts.
Bruce has 221 at-bats to Frazier’s team-high 297.
But Frazier leads the team in some other statistics that usually belong to the big three.
Frazier leads in home runs with 17, runs batted in with 46 and runs scored at 51. He is second with a .290 batting average to go with 15 doubles and 11 stolen bases — second most on the Reds.
Of course, Hamilton leads the team with 33 steals and is second in the National League in legal larceny. He is hitting a surprising .277 and has played excellent defense in centerfield. He has displayed a strong throwing arm, but as a former shortstop that is to be expected.
And then there is Mesoraco who has played in only 46 games due to injuries, yet still leads the team with a .309 batting average and is second to Frazier with 14 home runs and 40 RBIs. The catcher with the lightning bat speed also has 11 doubles.
As is the case with Hamilton, Frazier and Mesoraco are excellent defensive players as well.
Only Frazier will get some All-Star consideration when picking the extras. He’s not even among the top five vote-getters despite leading all third basemen in almost every category.
The lack of all-star recognition is to be expected for the little trio. They haven’t been around long enough to generate a league-wide star presence.
But forget the all-star stuff. Let’s worry more about matters of real concern.
If the little three can continue to produce the rest of the season and the big three can revert to their old forms, the Reds may just have a chance to make some noise in the postseason.
With the threat of what the Little Trio could cost the Reds in the near future, I wonder if general manager Walt Jocketty is trying to find any better player deals at a flea market?
Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.