GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Even after he lost in arbitration to the Reds last month, third baseman Eugenio Suarez pledged his commitment and happiness to be with the club, and he noted that the two sides were still talking about an extension.
On Friday, Suarez was rewarded handsomely when Cincinnati signed him to a seven-year, $66 million contract extension through the 2024 season, with a $15 million club option for the '25 season. The deal, which does not include a no-trade clause, buys out his remaining three years of arbitration eligibility (including '18) and four years of potential free agency.
"It's an honor for me to be part of this wonderful team. I will do my best to win a lot of games," Suarez said. "I just want to say I love this team. It's my family right now. I'm so happy."
Suarez, 26, was to earn $3.75 million this season after losing in arbitration when he filed for $4.2 million. Besides a $2 million signing bonus, he will earn $2.25 million in 2018, $9.25 million in '19, $10.5 million in '20 and $11 million each season from 2021-24. The buyout for the '25 club option is $2 million. Suarez will donate one percent of his future earnings to the Reds Community Fund.
Suarez's signing is another indication of how the club is trying to keep a core of young players together along with Joey Votto, who is signed through 2023 with his 10-year contract. In September, the Reds inked catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year, $16 million deal.
"We're sending a signal to fans that the work that we've put in the last couple of years is starting to come together," Reds general manager Dick Williams said. "We're starting to identify the building blocks that we want to build this team around. Geno's one of them, Tucker, Joey -- we've got these guys that we're making commitments to them and sending signals to the fans that we're ready to start winning again."
In 156 games last season, Suarez batted .260/.367/.461 with 26 home runs and 82 RBIs while establishing career highs in runs (87), homers, RBIs, walks (84), slugging and OPS. The former shortstop, who switched to third base before the 2016 season, made vast improvements defensively as well.
Suarez cut down his errors from 23 in 2016 to nine in '17 while having five defensive runs saved (DRS). His 4.1 fWAR was sixth best among MLB third baseman, behind only Anthony Rendon, Kristopher Bryant, Jose Ramirez, Nolan Arenado and Justin Turner.
"At third base, he's established himself as one of the best young players in the league," Williams said. "Offensively, he's only gotten better each year. He's an offensive force, defensive force, a leader in the clubhouse. Say no more. He's a guy we want to be part of the team for the next seven years."
Suarez came to the Reds from the Tigers on Dec. 11, 2014, in a trade for pitcher Alfredo Simon.
After last season, the local chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America voted Suarez as the winner of the Joe Nuxhall Good Guy Award. Suarez has become a central clubhouse figure for being outgoing, friendly and a good teammate.
"When I got traded here in 2015, I say: 'This is my family,'" Suarez said. "I see my teammates like Joey Votto, Zack Cozart at the time, Brandon Phillips. Tucker, [Devin] Mesoraco, everybody like that. When I meet those guys, they welcomed me to their house. I never forgot that."
Neither have the Reds.
"The fact is that Geno comes every day to play hard, but to have fun," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We need to have a good time while we're here at the ballpark. We're here a long time. We're together a long time.
"We really want to make sure the core unites the rest of the group, that they bring the new guys into the system and make [them] feel at home. I think that's what a lot of players did with Geno, and he's passed it along. I'm thrilled to have him long term."