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Joey Votto was already one of the best players in baseball. But he's taken his game to a freaky place this year.
We knew that Joey Votto had signed a ten-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds worth $225 million. We knew that Votto was getting a no-trade clause as part of the deal. Now, courtesy of C. Trent Rosecrans, we get the yearly salary breakdown. Votto was already under contract through 2013. After that:
2014: $12 million
2015: $14 million
2016: $20 million
2017: $22 million
2018: $25 million
2019: $25 million
2020: $25 million
2021: $25 million
2022: $25 million
2023: $25 million
2024: $20 million option ($7 million buyout)
That's pretty substantially back-loaded. To a point. It was like they intended to back-load, so they back-loaded until they got tired, and then they just stayed at $25 million. It's hard to blame them, because that's a lot of years.
What the Reds might be thinking is that they'll be better able to afford an expensive Joey Votto several years down the road. For whatever it's worth, the team's Opening Day payroll in 2002 was $45 million. In 2011, it was $81 million. So, yeah, it makes sense. With inflation and then assumed TV contract revenue, the Reds'll be paying Votto more as they're bringing more in.
Interestingly, Votto will make less in 2014 and 2015 than he will in 2013. Albert Pujols' long-term contract also starts at $12 million. Prince Fielder's is not really back-loaded. There's an opening here for a fat joke that I wish I didn't just acknowledge.
Not that there were any worries from anybody that things were going to fall through, but Wednesday, the ten-year Joey Votto contract extension with the Cincinnati Reds was made official. Mark Sheldon:
The deal, attached to the two years remaining on Votto's current contract, will run through the 2023 season. There is a club option for 2024. The extension reportedly is worth $225 million.
Everything about this, we pretty much already knew, but we hadn't heard of the option before. The Reds don't have Votto under contract for only the next twelve seasons. The Reds might have Votto under contract for the next thirteen seasons, provided the twelfth season is good enough. It would be interesting if the club option for 2024 automatically vests if Votto reaches 17 XHHes in 2023. There isn't such thing as an XHH now but 2023 is a long way in the future.
As noted before, Votto's getting a no-trade clause, giving him double protection, since his contract is already effectively a no-trade clause. There are whispers that the contract was pushed through by Reds owner Bob Castellini and that other executives are worried, but we needn't acknowledge whispers. Speak up!
Speaking of speaking up, some Reds players reacted to the Votto extension news:
"I'm happy for him," Reds right fielder Jay Bruce said. "I think he's going to be really happy here. It's pretty monumental for the franchise. I know he plans on giving his very best, working as hard as he can work and will continue to work to be the player that earned this contract."
"To be honest, I'm surprised," Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs said. "You only expect a few franchises to be in the mix for a contract like that -- New York, L.A., Chicago and so forth. For Cincinnati to step up and be in the neighborhood of that just shows we're making a point to keep up with those organizations to compete and try to be a force in this league."
Brandon Phillips couldn't be reached for comment, as he was busy suitcase shopping.
Joey Votto will be on the Reds until 2023. That's a year after Soylent Green is supposed to take place. That sets up a better Prince Fielder joke, but we can only use the cards that we're dealt. And any time a player is signed for a decade for many, many millions, it becomes fashionable at how much value the player will be returning in ten years' time when he's 53, or whatever.
But at the Red Reporter, they're not thinking about the marginal cost of a win right now. They're thinking about their favorite team acting like one of the big boys for once:
The numbers can project what Joey Votto is going to be worth over the life of this contract, and how much every dollar paid to him is worth in free market wins available, but in this rare instance they utterly fail at fully understanding the real value of Joey Votto the Red. This has been one of the league's most moribund, dysfunctional, impotent, and inconsequential franchises for a number of years...
Not only did the Yankees develop a rare talent like Derek Jeter, but when he approached free agency there was never a question that he would be re-signed. This winter, with two years before scheduled free agency, Votto was one of the most talked-about impending free agents. The Reds could never afford a talent like his, not in a market like this.
There was a good chance that the Reds would trade Votto as he approached free agency, or that they'd do something similar to what the Mets did with Jose Reyes: squeeze every last drop out of him and his production before letting him leave via free agency.
At this moment, it's not clear exactly how much money the Cincinnati Reds are committing to Joey Votto, or for how many years.
We know it's a lot, though. A lot of money, a lot of years. A lot.
Earlier Monday, when the reports of Votto's massive new contract began showing up, we also saw this:
Votto told me earlier he felt reds were not the same as #brewers in terms of market and could afford it. I guess they can.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) April 2, 2012
Honestly, I have no idea why Votto would think that.
It's true that Cincinnati's got more people than Milwaukee. Significantly more people, just in terms of raw people. According to the 2010 U.S. census, Cincinnati's metropolitan area contains roughly 2.2 million people, while Milwaukee's has only 1.6 million.
Which hardly makes Cincinnati a population powerhouse; the Reds play in the 27th-most populous metropolitan area in the United States, and the fourth-least populous in Major League Baseball. Cleveland and Kansas City are just slightly smaller, with Milwaukee being the smallest by a lot.
But there are other ways to measure markets. Fan support, for example. Last year the Brewers drew 3.1 million fans to their 81 home games, fourth-best in the National League. Meanwhile, the Reds -- despite coming off a first-place season -- drew only 2.2 million, 10th in the league. With the Packers and the Brewers, the sports fans in Wisconsin have demonstrated with the wallets and their fannies that they will support their teams, population be damned.
The fans in southwestern Ohio and north-central Kentucky have not done the same. Which doesn't mean they won't. Maybe locking up Joey Votto for The Rest of Recorded Time will kickstart the local baseball team's attendance.
But to me, this just looks like more evidence that Major League Baseball's franchises, even those in the smallest of markets, are about to reap huge windfalls in local television revenues.
So why couldn't Milwaukee get Prince Fielder signed to a similar contract? My guess is the Brewers had the money, but simply didn't think Fielder was worth it. And my guess is also that they were right.
Monday, news broke via MLB Trade Rumors that Joey Votto was close to signing a long-term contract extension with the Cincinnati Reds. Jon Heyman indicated that Votto would be signed through 2021. Ken Rosenthal backed up Jon Heyman. Bob Nightengale went in a different direction.
That's unclear. That's because Nightengale meant to type 2023, not 2013. I know that because Bob Nightengale subsequently wrote this article, including:
The Cincinnati Reds slugger on Monday agreed to a 10-year, $225 million contract extension, according to a person familiar with the deal but not authorized to speak publicly about them because the deal is not finalized. Votto's extension ties him to the Reds through 2023 and continues a wild run of baseball spending.
Votto's already under contract for the next two years. Nightengale reports that he's agreed to be under contract for the next ten after that, with a full no-trade clause. Put another way, if Nightengale's report is true, Votto will turn 40 a few weeks before this contract extension is up.
I'll be honest with you: As much as I know that this is a huge, huge deal, it's coming in the same off-season in which Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols also signed huge, huge deals, so I'm kind of numbed to the shock. Votto was looking like he'd be a hell of a free agent, so now a few front offices will have to adjust their plans. It's worth noting that Votto's also the fourth $200-million man in baseball history, after Fielder, Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez.
I don't need to tell you that this is risky. Any long-term contract is risky, and Votto's a first baseman in the National League. But you can give contracts based only on what you know at the time, and what the Reds know is that, over the past three seasons, Votto has been as good a hitter as Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Jose Bautista. FanGraphs has Votto about 19 wins over replacement over that span. That ties him with Ben Zobrist, which sounds weird. It also ties him with Cabrera and Troy Tulowitzki. That seems suitable company. Joey Votto is fantastic, and it looks like he's on board with the idea of being a Cincinnati Red for Life. The Reds are aboard, too.
Word's out now that the Cincinnati Reds are close to signing Joey Votto to a long-term contract extension. Everybody's talking about it - at least, everybody was talking about it before the Matt Cain contract extension news broke - and it's easy to forget that it all started with a scoop from MLB Trade Rumors. Way to go, MLB Trade Rumors!
So it looks like something's getting done. There isn't much in the way of available details, but here's Jon Heyman with something in case you're desperately thirsty for knowledge:
hearing votto deal is for 10 years. i believe that is 10 total, including the 2 he has on existing deal. #reds— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) April 2, 2012
Per the terms of an existing contract, Votto's making $9.5 million in 2012, and $17 million in 2013. There's also some signing-bonus money in there. Heyman's source apparently suggests that the Reds will sign Votto through 2021. Albert Pujols is also signed through 2021. Prince Fielder is signed through 2020. I'm mentioning these guys because I think I'm obligated to mention these guys when writing about Joey Votto.
Votto's 28, which means that, if he's signed through 2021, he'll be 38 at the end. That's an age by which pretty much all players have begun declining. But of course, the Reds would be most interested in what Votto could do over the next several years, and by the end of such a potential contract, who the hell knows what advances we might have made? They could have a Tommy John surgery for bad knees or slowing swings. I'm pretty sure that we're about 15 years away from athletes being immortal so neither Votto nor the Reds should worry too much about the future right now.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds are close to a gigantic extension to keep the first baseman around for a long time.