Reds sign Masset, avoid arbitration

Reds sign Masset, avoid arbitration

CINCINNATI -- The Reds signed reliever Nick Masset to a two-year, $2.58 million contract on Saturday that enabled the right-hander to avoid arbitration.

Masset will earn $1.035 million in 2010 and $1.545 million in '11 in a deal that also comes with performance-based bonuses. He already had reason to celebrate before getting his new contract.

On Jan. 9, Masset got married, and he was on his honeymoon in Maui with his new wife, Jennah, on Saturday when he got word a deal was reached.

"It's a nice little treat. We're really happy," said Masset, who earned $418,000 in 2009. "We started talking about it right after the season ended and then they talked here and there. We tried to get the ends to meet and came up with a number that worked for both of us. It's great."

While leading Cincinnati with 74 relief appearances, Masset was 5-1 with a 2.37 ERA over 76 innings last season.

"It was important to get him signed," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "We were glad to get a two-year deal. It gives him a little security and us some payroll security. He worked hard and deserved it. We're happy to get it done."

The 2009 season was one of incredible growth for Masset. He went to Spring Training seeking to be the fifth starter, but he didn't earn the job as he struggled as a starter. Masset began the season as a middle and long reliever, but he eventually rose into a primary setup role in the bullpen.

Of the 50 runners Masset inherited on the season, just 16 scored. A sinkerball pitcher, he was often called into tight situations to induce double plays.

Right-handed batters hit just .194 last season vs. Masset, and the right-hander did not allow a run over his final 12 appearances.

The Reds acquired Masset on July 31, 2008, in the trade that sent Ken Griffey Jr. to the White Sox.

"In my first couple of years in the big leagues, I didn't know what I was destined to do," Masset said. "I was tossed around as a long reliever or a starter. I never had an exact spot. Once I got here, I became a seventh-inning guy and then got into a setup role. That's where I found I'm at home. And now I feel like I have another family in Cincinnati. I'm excited about our team as a whole."

This was the first time Masset was eligible for arbitration, and his signing wipes out his first two arbitration years.

Reliever Jared Burton remains the lone Reds player eligible for arbitration. Teams are scheduled to exchange salary figures with their arbitration players Tuesday and Jocketty hoped to have a deal done before that happens.

"We are taking a little tougher approach," Jocketty said. "We're telling agents that we want to get deals done before the numbers are exchanged. Hopefully, it'll be done by Monday. If not, we're going to arbitration. We're not messing around with it. Too many agents want to exchange numbers so they can inflate them. We're not doing it anymore."

The Reds have had success avoiding arbitration in the past. The last Cincinnati player to go to a hearing was Chris Reitsma, who lost his case in 2004.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.