The Cincinnati Reds and young, right-handed starting pitcher Hunter Greene have agreed to a six-year contract extension, the team announced Tuesday. The deal, pending a physical, is worth $53 million and has a $21 million club option for 2029.
Greene, 23, has now made 28 career starts at the big-league level and has shown flashes of brilliance. He was the Reds' first-round draft pick -- second overall -- out of high school in 2017 and is one of the youngest pitchers signed to an extension this early in his career. So far in his MLB tenure, he's 5-13 with a 4.42 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 188 strikeouts in 142 2/3 innings. Consistency has been an issue, but he already has three 10-strikeout performances under his belt and even flirted with a no-hitter last season.
"The commitment we made to Hunter reflects his commitment to this organization and to our community," Reds Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini said in a statement. "He is part of the foundation of young players who will continue to help us build a successful Major League team."
The 6-foot-5 Greene is overpowering when he has good command. At 99.2 miles per hour on average, his fastball is the hardest in the majors among starting pitchers.
It should be pointed out that a lot of this deal from the Reds' side is cost certainty. Greene wasn't set to hit arbitration until after the 2024 season and then wouldn't hit free agency until after the 2027 season. The deal starts this season and then buys out the first two years of Greene's free agency.
On Greene's side, getting the financial comfort long-term had to have been a big selling point, too.
The Reds have started the season 7-9 and aren't necessarily expected to contend just yet, but their rebuild revolves around a trio of starting pitchers. Obviously, Greene is a part of that group along with huge-upside starter Nick Lodolo and steady righty Graham Ashcraft.
Lodolo starts Tuesday night against the Rays and heads into that game 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 17 innings. Like Greene, he's very tall (6-foot-6) and overpowering, though he's a lefty. It's nice they have one from each side. Then there's Ashcraft, a 25-year-old righty who is a bit of a change of pace from the strikeout machines. He has a 1.42 ERA through three starts this season with 17 strikeouts in 19 innings.
Getting Greene locked up to this deal is a nice move by the Reds' front office. It'll be interesting to see if they can get some similar contracts done with Lodolo and Ashcraft.