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12/10/10 1:16 PM EST
Reds lock up Bruce for the long haul
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- In a deal that secures one of the pieces of their long-term future, the Reds agreed to terms with outfielder Jay Bruce late Thursday night on a six-year, $51 million contract, a baseball source confirmed to MLB.com.
The agreement, which allows the two sides to avoid arbitration, comes with an option for a seventh year that could push the total earnings to $63 million. The option has a $1 million buyout.
It will be a while until the deal is made official, and the Reds have yet to make an announcement. Bruce is scheduled to fly to Cincinnati for his physical on Monday, and the signing could be completed by Tuesday.
"Nothing is finalized. We have been in discussions about a long-term contract," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said on Friday. "We're confident and hope to get it solved by next week."
Bruce earned $440,000 in 2010 and was awarded Super Two status after last season, which allowed him first-time arbitration-eligibility earlier than normal. The contract would wipe out any arbitration issues for all four years, plus two years of potential free agency.
The contract mirrors the six-year, $51.25 million agreement reached in March between the D-backs and Justin Upton, another 23-year-old outfielder entering his arbitration year.
By looking at the mammoth seven-year free-agent contracts being signed by outfielders this
week -- for Jayson Werth and the Nationals ($126 million) and Carl Crawford and the Red Sox ($142
million) -- Bruce is leaving some money on the table. But he gets the security of the long-term deal right now while the club gets some cost certainty over the next six to seven years.
"That's the purpose for doing them," Jocketty said.
Bruce's agreement appears to have come together relatively quickly. As recently as last weekend, during Redsfest, Bruce described talks as being preliminary and said that nothing was imminent.
The native of Beaumont, Texas, has been up front about wanting to remain with the Reds long-term.
"This is the place I want to be," Bruce said. "We're in a great position as far as the team [goes], and the front office is doing all the things necessary in order for us to continue to win. That's what I want to be a part of. I'd love to be here."
The Reds and Bruce's agent, Matt Sosnick, began talks in earnest during this week's Winter Meetings.
The 2010 season was a big one for Bruce, who established career highs across the board, batting .281 with 25 home runs, 70 RBIs and a .353 on-base percentage. Defensively, he netted seven assists.
The exclamation point was most likely his first-pitch walk-off homer leading off the bottom of the ninth vs. the Astros on Sept. 28 to clinch the National League Central for the Reds.
Over his nearly three seasons in Cincinnati, Bruce already has 68 career home runs.
This is the second significant deal the Reds have reached in a week. Last Friday, Bronson Arroyo was signed to a three-year extension worth $35 million.
The Reds have five other arbitration-eligible players, including NL Most Valuable Player Joey Votto, to sign. Jocketty has said that he is interested in offering a multiyear contract to Votto, as well.
"They weren't really ready to talk yet," Jocketty said. "Hopefully, we'll get started soon."