CINCINNATI -- Out of the six Reds players eligible for arbitration when the week started, only two remain unsigned at week's end -- starting pitcher Homer Bailey and closer Aroldis Chapman.
Friday was the deadline for eligible players and clubs to exchange salary proposals for a one-year contract. Close to 100 players avoided the arbitration process, including Reds outfielder Chris Heisey and pitchers Mike Leake, Sam LeCure and Alfredo Simon.
Reds general manager Walt Jocketty wasn't stunned that deals could not be reached with Bailey or Chapman.
"I didn't think anything would [get done]," Jocketty said.
There is some distance in the one-year proposals Cincinnati exchanged with the agents for the players. Bailey, 27, filed for $11.6 million while the Reds countered at $8.7 million -- a gap of $2.9 million.
Chapman, 25, filed for $5.4 million while the club offered $4.6 million -- a difference of $800,000.
Negotiations can continue right up to the arbitration hearings, which are scheduled between Feb. 1-21. If the players remain unsigned before their hearing, an arbitration panel will listen to the cases and choose one side's salary proposal over the other for a binding one-year contract. There is no splitting the difference once the hearing is completed.
However, the Reds' ambition is to secure Bailey -- a year away from free agency -- with a long-term contract.
"In Bailey's case, we were working on a multi-year [deal]," Jocketty said. "The agent [Casey Close] has [Clayton] Kershaw and he has [Masahiro] Tanaka also, so he's been tied up with that. We just didn't anticipate getting it done, but we exchanged numbers in the event and we will continue to negotiate and hopefully get something done before the hearing date."
Multiple times this offseason, Jocketty had characterized the likelihood of signing Bailey long term as difficult. But he seemed less worried on Friday.
"I am optimistic," Jocketty said. "I just think it depends on where they feel the market settles in on free-agent pitchers. Hopefully, we're not too far with our estimate and with their estimate about the market going forward. What it will be based on is what market for a guy like Bailey will be in the future."
Kershaw, the Dodgers' rotation ace, formally signed a seven-year, $215 million contract on Friday. Could it drive the price higher for Bailey?
"I don't think it affects this one directly with Bailey, but it affects the market as a whole," Jocketty said. "Any time you sign a free agent to a contract, it drags it up a little bit. Kershaw is a special case."
Bailey, who is in his third arbitration year, avoided the process last winter by signing a one-year, $5.35 million contract. He went 11-12 with a career-best 3.49 ERA in 32 starts and also achieved career bests in innings (209) and strikeouts (199). On July 2 vs. the Giants at Great American Ball Park, he threw the second no-hitter of his career.
Under the terms of the six-year, $30.25 million free-agent contract he signed in 2010 after defecting from Cuba, Chapman could convert the $3 million he's owed for 2014 into a bonus if he was eligible for arbitration. In 2013, he earned $2 million while posting 38 saves in 43 chances with a 2.54 ERA in 68 appearances.
"We really haven't had any discussions with his agent," Jocketty said. "Actually, this week was the first one we've had. I'm not that concerned about it."
The Reds have not gone to a hearing against any player since an arbitrator ruled in their favor against pitcher Chris Reitsma in 2004.
Jocketty was pleased with the four deals that did result in agreements. On Thursday, Heisey's deal was completed for one year and $1.76 million. Leake agreed to a one-year, $5.925 million contract. LeCure agreed to a two-year, $3.05 million contract and Simon has a one-year deal worth $1.5 million.
"We made an effort to try and get it done," Jocketty said. "[Assistant GM] Bob Miller, [director of baseball operations] Nick Krall, [vice president of baseball operations] Dick Williams and [director of baseball research and analysis] Sam Grossman did a lot of good work on these. I stayed in touch with them every day. We worked through a couple of the issues and got them done. It was good. They did a good job."