The Cincinnati Reds and general manager Walt Jocketty have done a great job recently of locking up players who are important to the team's future.
Phillips and Votto are arguably the two most important pieces of the Reds franchise given their play on the field, and appeal to fans.
Given the general happiness among the fan base with the extensions given to Votto and Phillips, Jocketty should look to extend several other players on the roster.
Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Mat Latos should all be given contract extensions through at least the 2018 season.
The obvious common thread amongst these three is that they're all starting pitchers. Additionally, all three are talented young pitchers who have shown a general trend of improvement over the last few seasons.
Cueto has quietly become one of baseball's best young pitchers. He is only 26 years old and has solidified his position at the top of the Reds' rotation.
Only a hand-full of teams have No. 1 starting pitchers younger than Cueto. Compared to those No. 1 options, Cueto fares well.
Johnny Cueto ||60-46||149||904||3.57||1.26||4.07||4.05||8.6||7.0||2.8||2.50|
Cueto has the fourth-best record among the nine pitchers listed. Although Cueto is statistically the worst of those four pitchers (Cueto, Hernandez, Gallardo and Kershaw), it's hardly a bad group to be the worst of.
Two of the top-4 pitchers in this group are former Cy Young Award winners (Kershaw and Hernandez), the other is a former All-Star (Gallardo).
Kershaw, Hernandez and Gallardo are all headed toward monster contract extensions in the near future and the Reds would be wise to extend Cueto prior to him having a third successful season.
Cueto is under contract through 2015 so a contract extension isn't likely.
However, after having solidified himself as a legitimate Cy Young candidate for the the foreseeable future, Cueto will have a major price tag attached to his name when he becomes a free agent following the 2015 season.
Given the fact that Cueto will only be 29 once that season ends, it's fair to assume that teams would pay more than the $10 million he's owed in 2015 in order to bring him to their city.
Reworking the deal now and adding years would eliminate that as a possibility while saving the Reds money over a future extension for Cueto.
A third-consecutive season of the Cueto Reds fans have become accustomed to seeing (28-14, 2.58 ERA last two seasons), could send his price so high that the Reds can't afford to sign him.
By reworking Cuetoo's current deal, the team can avoid the 26-year-old pricing himself out of Cincinnati with a couple more good seasons.
As many now know, Homer Bailey has been a bit of a late bloomer. Though he has been classified as a bust in the past, Bailey's ERA, WHIP and BB/9 have all been in steady decline since he was called up in 2007.
Bailey's entire body of work now warrants an extension. However, it was the second half of Bailey's 2012 season that showed he had truly turned the corner.
Take a look at Bailey's 2012 splits.
In the second half of 2012 Bailey was the second best starter on the roster.
Bailey pitched the second-most innings on the team in the second half of last season while outpacing the rest of the pack in K/9 and K/BB.
Latos is blossoming into a star with the Cincinnati Reds. I noted above that Homer Bailey was the second-best starter on the team in the the second half of last season, that's only true because Latos was the best.
Latos pitched to a career best .778 winning percentage in 2012. Additionally, Latos' 2012 marks in WHIP (1.16), and innings pitched (209.1) were the second best, and best marks of his career (per baseball-reference.com).
Latos' overall body of work is impressive for a player at age 25.
In four seasons (three full) of work, Latos has compiled a 41-33 record with a 3.41 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and averages of 8.4 K/9 and 3.01 K/BB (per baseball-reference.com).
The most importantly with Latos is that he hasn't entered his physical prime yet.
Also, by extending Latos now, the team can buy-out his last three arbitration seasons (2014-16). In doing so, the Reds can retain Latos below cost over the course of a six-year extension.
By giving Latos a little more money on the front end than he would have earned through arbitration, the three years after arbitration would come far cheaper than they would if the team waited an extension out.
Who should Walt Jocketty look to extend?
For the last four seasons Latos has been one of the best young pitchers in baseball.
When assessing the Reds' pitching staff, the only starters under contract past this season are Cueto and Aroldis Chapman.
Latos, Bailey and Leake are all under club control through at least the 2015 season.
Extending Latos and Bailey now would be a good move for the Reds both financially, and in securing the long term future of the team.