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Bailey, Reds hope to settle contract dispute

Parties may keep an eye on similar situation regarding Indians' Masterson

CINCINNATI -- As Reds pitchers and catchers prepare to open Spring Training on Friday, there remains unresolved business with pitcher Homer Bailey.

Bailey, who has already arrived at camp ahead of schedule, is the last unsigned Reds player eligible for arbitration.

"We're still talking," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said on Wednesday evening. "We had another conversation today. We'll continue to keep talking. We'll talk again in another day or so and get something resolved one way or the other. There has not been a lot of progress, but good conversations anyhow."

Jocketty has not given up on trying to get Bailey signed long term.

"We're still talking about a multiyear," Jocketty said.

Should Bailey not get a multiyear contract and settle on a one-year deal, he could leave the Reds after this season as a free agent. Next year, the asking price will likely increase because the right-handed starter should be one of the higher in-demand power pitchers on the market.

Over the weekend,'s Jerry Crasnick reported that there was an "enormous gap" between what Bailey wanted for a long-term deal and what was last offered by the club.

While talks continue, the Reds and Bailey's agents might have a watchful eye on the progress of another pitcher in a similar arbitration situation.

Like Bailey, Indians starter Justin Masterson is in the third year of the arbitration cycle and one year away from being a free agent. Both pitchers also have similar career numbers, especially the numbers from the last three seasons. And coincidentally, they both have arbitration hearings scheduled for Feb. 20.

Masterson is 37-35 with a 3.86 ERA over his past three seasons. He's thrown 615 1/3 innings, has a 2.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 1.31 WHIP, and 100 ERA+. Bailey's last three years have him at 33-29 with a 3.79 ERA. Over 549 innings, he has a 3.40 strikeouts-to-walks ratio, a 1.21 WHIP and 105 ERA+.

Overall, Bailey is 49-45 with a 4.25 ERA in 143 career games, all starts. Masterson is 53-63 with a 4.03 ERA in 212 games, including 150 starts. Masterson will turn 29 in March and Bailey will turn 28 in May.

When salary figures were exchanged last month, Bailey asked for $11.6 million and the Reds countered at $8.7 million. He earned $5.35 million last season. Masterson is seeking $11.8 million and was offered $8.05 million from Cleveland, where he made $5.68 million in 2013.

"We look at all the comparables, past and present," Jocketty said. "We don't necessarily wait to see what someone else does. We have to do what we need to do."

Like the Reds and Bailey, Masterson and the Indians have tried to hammer out a multiyear contract to keep the team's starter from the past two Opening Days in Cleveland. As the hearing draws closer, now the two sides are focused on another one-year deal that avoids arbitration.

"Any time you can avoid any type of hearing, that's what you want to do," Masterson said on Monday. "We're working through it. It's difficult, challenging, and yet a fun part of the game. It's different. We're working with the businessmen and having some fun with that. You're trying not to be too stubborn in your own right, but know that you're trying to work for something fair and true."

The Reds have not gone to arbitration since 2004, when they won their case with pitcher Chris Reitsma.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
Read More: Cincinnati Reds, Justin Masterson, Homer Bailey