What to Make of Reds’ Extension of Hunter Greene

Several Major League teams have extended young starters in recent weeks, and the Reds are no exception. The Reds have reportedly agreed to a six-year extension with budding ace Hunter Greene, in what’s a move that could look quite good in a few seasons. Here’s a closer look at Greene and how this deal stacks up.

Related: What to Expect from Athletics Starter Mason Miller

A Look at Greene

Reds starting pitcher Hunter Greene was one of the most highly-touted pitching prospects of the past decade, when Cincinnati took him in the first round in 2017. It took a bit for Greene to develop, but the young righty has turned into one of the game’s brightest starts.

Through his first 28 Major League starts, Greene struck out 188 batters over 142.2 innings. While Greene has struggled at times with his command, no one can doubt his stuff. The 23-year-old boasts a plus-plus triple-digit fastball to go along with a wipeout slider. Greene does have a changeup to pair with those pitches, but it’s not as refined and the righty hasn’t used it much. Across his first four starts of 2023, Greene has thrown a changeup just seven times.

Nonetheless, Greene’s proven to do something that a small, but growing group of pitchers — think Jacob deGrom and Carlos Rodón — have been able to do: get outs primarily off of two pitches. His stuff is truly elite, and he’s set to become a key piece of the Reds’ future alongside Nick Lodolo.

Per ESPN, Greene’s new deal is a six-year deal with $53 million. It also comes with a $21 million club option that would keep him in Cincinnati until the end of his age-29 season. With the option included, the Reds would have control for three additional seasons.

A Look at the Reds

This deal is a major one, for a few reasons. Besides the obvious fact that the Reds were able to buy out two free agent years, it also gives Cincinnati some much-needed financial flexibility over the coming months. While the Reds will pay Greene significantly more than the team has to in 2024, the savings that Cincinnati will receive in the following seasons (2025-27) should help with roster construction over the coming years..

To put this in perspective, let’s think about 2027, the final year before Greene would have been a free gent. Take a look at the 2023 salaries of just a few of the notable pitchers that are set to enter the free agent market in 2023-24 and are in their sixth year in the league:

Obviously, the Ohtani salary is an outlier. That salary aside, the Reds would have — so long that Greene stays on his current trajectory — likely needed to pay either numbers similar, or higher, than the salaries that the likes of Urias and Giolito are receiving this year at some point. But now that Greene is locked into an AAV of less than $9M, the deal could prove to be a steal.

With Greene locked up, the Reds can now begin to piece the future together. Cincinnati already has an impressive group of young, talented hitters in Elly De La Cruz, Noelvi Marte, and Matt McLain. Put those names together, and the Reds should then be able to add on via free agency to build a very respectable roster in the coming years.