Being a mid-market team at this time of the year, the Cincinnati Reds have to search for bargains in the free-agent market. However, the need to save money leads the team to underpay some of its best players.
By my standards, there are two players on the Reds' active roster who are worthy of being called "underpaid."
Though both are likely to see their salaries jump via arbitration, both were severely underpaid in terms of their 2012 salaries.
The first is Mat Latos, who earned just $550,000 in 2012 but pitched as well as others who made millions of dollars more than him last season.
In his 33 starts, Latos pitched 209.1 innings, going 14-4 with a 3.48 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and 185 strikeouts.
The 24-year-old righty posted a 4.1 WAR in 2012, higher than Jered Weaver, Matt Cain and CC Sabathia. Those three pitchers earned $14 million, $15 million and $23 million, respectively, last season.
Over the course of his first four seasons, Latos has worked his way to a 41-33 record with a 3.41 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and 598 strikeouts in 639 innings.
Latos is sure to see his pay skyrocket in 2013 through arbitration (projected at $4.6 million by MLBTradeRumors.com), but when you compare his 2012 salary to his career numbers and his most recent season's performance, it's easy to see that Latos is the most underpaid player on the Reds.
The other player who the Reds are underpaying is Todd Frazier, and although he took a while to make his mark at the major league level, Frazier did so in a big way in 2012.
Filling in for the oft-injured Scott Rolen as well as during Joey Votto's 49-game absence, Frazier had a fantastic rookie season which earned him third place in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
In 128 games, Frazier batted .273/.331/.498 with 19 HR, 67 RBI and 55 runs scored. The 26-year-old third baseman also finished with a WAR (1.9) higher than fellow third baseman Hanley Ramirez and one-tenth of a point behind Pablo Sandoval.
The two players mentioned earned $15 million and $3.2 million, respectively, in 2012.
Though Frazier doesn't have the track record of Ramirez or Sandoval, he has certainly earned the right to make more than the $480,000 that he made in 2012 (per spotrac.com).