2011 Reds

Joey Votto agrees to three-year contract

Via Mark Sheldon:

This just in — the Reds and Joey Votto have agreed to terms Sunday on a three-year, $38 million contract with 1B Joey Votto, baseball sources told MLB.com. This is pending a physical, which is scheduled for Monday.

I’m underwhelmed. Basically, the Reds have bought out all of Votto’s arbitration seasons. Meh.

From Cincinnati’s perspective, they likely saved some money over what they would have paid if Votto had taken them to arbitration each of the next three years. Not much money, but another monster season by Votto would have upped the ante considerably. At the very least, the Reds have some cost certainty going forward.

Votto is getting some big money, and he didn’t bargain away any of his free agency years. I really hoped that the Reds would be able to sign Votto for five or six years, getting Votto under contract for some of the years in which he could explore free agency. Of course, you can’t blame Joey Votto for refusing to sign a contract that extended past his arbitration seasons. I would have done the exact same thing if I were in Votto’s position.

It isn’t a bad deal for the Reds, it isn’t a good deal for the Reds. Nothing to get too excited about, nothing to be disappointed with. The Reds already had Votto for the next three seasons. This deal is just, well…meh.

34 thoughts on “Joey Votto agrees to three-year contract

  1. This morning when I read the headline “Joey Votto agrees to extention” I threw my fist into the air and yelled “YEAH!”. Then I read that it was for just 3 years and I’ve been disapointed ever since. I was hoping for 4 years at least but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

  2. It seems that both parties are hedging their bets. If Joey continues to have really good years his bargaining power will be that much greater in 3 years. If this truly was a career yr. for him and he doesn’t do as well he will be easier to sign to an extension. The question, of course, then is would you want to. If he get seriously injured then the Reds may have saved a bunch of money and he may have lost a bunch. Also in 3 yrs the Reds will know where they are with all the young players. If they have been very successful, they may really need/want to perpetuate that. If things haven’t worked out Votto may be a luxury they don’t want for a mediocre team. Or Votto may be not really needed if there are a lot of successful, younger, cheaper players. My best guess is that there will be a couple of very good years and then the Reds may not be able to afford all the players that would keep that going and they will have to go back to the well of minor league prospects. It think its a pretty good deal for the Reds.

  3. So what does this do to the budget? I thought the REDS were basically going to stay around the same in payroll as last year? The numbers I’d been reading were around $75-$80M.

  4. I’m still excited. This is a deal in good faith, for both sides. It allows Votto to see what the direction of the organization is going, and it saves the Reds some headache with the arbitration process and if he continues his play some money. A 5-6 deal would have been perfect, but it would have been stupid on Votto’s part and he is not a stupid person.

  5. Joey Votto’s 3-year deal runs through his age-30 season. Jay Bruce’s 6-year deal runs through his age-29 season. Each is set up similarly for another large contract later in their careers if they stay on track.

    While I would have loved for the Reds and Votto to agree to a 5-6 year contract, it makes a lot more sense for JV to sign his next contract at age 30 instead of age 32.

    The Reds will have a chance to re-sign him then as well. Avoiding the nastiness of the arbitration process might help facilitate that.

  6. It will be really interesting to see what happens with Edinson Volquez with respect to arbitration. EV has had an up-and-down career with one exceptional year. His situation may lead to a difficult negotiating situation since the two sides may have radically different values for EV’s next few years.

    Should his salary be based on the assumption he’ll return to 2008 form or more like he was last year, or something in between? Should his TJ surgery make us more encouraged about his future, as many pitchers have actually improved after that surgery? Or is he a greater injury risk?

    Tricky. Nowhere near as straight-forward as the JV or JB negotiations.

  7. I agree with what Chad wrote.

    However, there is also some value to avoiding three potentially-contentious arb hearings. I don’t know if Votto would be particularly sensitive to that process, but it can’t help any player’s relationship with the club to hear the team’s arguments as to why he doesn’t deserve the money he wants.

  8. @BJ Ruble: I’m with BJ on this. It’s not a thrilling development, but it’s a smart move by both sides. I feel good about it.

  9. I think its a good move. The reds show Votto they value him enough to want to keep him for multiple years. As mentioned by others, it also avoids the arbitration “fueding” process. Now the reds know where they stand in terms of money/years with Votto and can plan accordingly for next two years, when the next major decision will have to be made.

    I imagine the Reds are watching very closely the situations as they unfold for both Brewers(Prince) and the Cardinals(Pujols) to get an idea of what is on the horizon for them.

    Regardless, Reds have him for 2011 and looking forward to watching him and the rest of the team dominate the divison. 😀

    Go 2011 Reds! Defending NL Central champs!

  10. @Chris Garber:

    I think this gets overblown. The player themselves almost never go to the hearings, and from the small handful of what I’ve heard players say about it, they don’t ask what was said. Now they are saving money, so that’s nice, and everyone likes to avoid arbitration on big time players because it’s unpredictable, but I don’t think people’s feelings really get hurt that often. Especially not star players. I mean, what are they going to say, “yeah, he won an MVP, put up big numbers, became a cornerstone player and all, but he really sucks. We swear he does!”?

  11. I like this as a sum-certain deal for the Reds and not having to futz around with arbitration each of the next 3 years where Votto is concerned. I honestly did not think any kind of deal could be reached considering the MVP season Votto had in 2010.

  12. I think this was the best deal for both sides. But here is what I take from this:

    The time to win is NOW. The Reds’ window is 2011-2013. Enough with the rebuilding.

  13. & to clarify: I don’t really feel like the Reds are still rebuilding. (After all, they won the division last year.) But, I still feel that management is being cautious, making moves on the margins, and not pushing to add a major piece. I am generally okay with that approach, but not when the team is so close to being a serious contender and when there is the obvious possibility that they won’t be able to retain all their young stars indefinitely.

  14. I see how the Reds would like it from their perspective…it gives them the ability to play financially through 2013, and I’m assuming that Votto would not include any of his FA years. Fay talks about that in the Enquirer today, he expects Jocketty to address why no FA years were included when they talk about the contract after Joey passes his physical and the deal is official.

    I don’t see though what Votto gains, other then not having to go through the process every year. If it was fair to say he would make $10M this year, even average years the next two would very likely put him over the $38M mark. I guess it protects him in case of injury..

  15. @per14: I’m with you 100%. I was about to post a similar comment. This is basically the Reds’ version of the mid-90’s Indians time. Three years to rock and roll.

  16. @Bill Lack: Take a look at this link I ran across:


    The linked article says the average annual value for Votto is going to come out higher than on the first arb eligible contracts of the likes of Pujols, Fielder, Lincecum et al.

    Assuming good health and continued similar production by Votto that certainly sets the table for his reps the next time around be it with the Reds or MLB at large.

    There is another undercurrent running through some of the opinions I have read. That is that Joey was not ready to commit beyond arbitration but wanted the 3 years to get himself out of the spotlight at contract time the next two years.

    I’ll add for myself that we probably should also keep in mind that Votto and Pujols are repsresented by the same agency. Those guys are obviously going to be very busy over the next month (at least) working the Pujols deal, which by the way also will inevitably impact Votto’s next deal, and simply may not have been in a position time wise to do any more than agree to an arbitration buyout deal on Votto at this point. Once Albert is settled or on hold till the next off season, there would be plenty of time for them to come back and quietly work out a further extension for Votto if that is his and the Reds desire.

  17. @Bill Lack:

    bill, i think the point is that Pujols is going to set the bar with his next contract and which will determine the next layer or slot for guys like Votto, especially if Votto somehow maintains his 2010 production. So given the same representation, Votto may have insider info on what they are asking of the Cardinals and its a wait-n-see strategy by Votto with millions-of-reasons ($$$$) to do so. 😉

    • bill, i think the point is that Pujols is going to set the bar with his next contract and

      Ryan Howard actually set the bar. His ridiculous contract is the floor for Votto, and Pujols, of course, is much higher. There’s no incentive for Votto to sell 2014 today, and frankly, not much incentive for the Reds to buy it.

  18. @doctor: Exactly. Let’s say The Reds and Votto’s agents were working on a straight 5 year deal or 4 year with a club option the 5th year. (5 years by the way would make Votto the current age of Pujols when the contract expired).

    They’ve agreed on the average salary for Votto over the 1st three years but can’t nail down the closing amounts. The agency knows what is on the table for Pujols and what they are going after for Pujols but of course ethically (and perhaps even legally) cannot identify that figure in the Votto negotitions. So, maybe they say sign for three at this rate we agree on and we will get back with you on a further extention when we’ve settled on Pujols.

    As far as limits on time and resources, I work for a very large entity on a contract with an even larger one and believe me even very big, very expensive, and important things some times get prioritized to 1A and 1B on either side. They just try to keep the 1B from figurng out it is 1B or what the 1A is.

  19. If the Reds could’ve signed him to 6 or 7 yr contract, with the Reds being a small market team now was the time to lock him up. I know its a huge gamble locking so much money into something thats as uncertain as the career of a MLB player, but nothing about Joey’s talent, work ethic, intelligence or attitude even whispers to me that last year or the year before isn’t going to be repeatable for years to come. Its not sensible for the Reds but I think this would’ve been a good gamble for a small market team to make.

  20. I don’t believe the Reds can gamble on much more than a 3 year contract. Remember Sean Casey signed a long deal and then injured his shoulder and was not the same player and the Reds were stuck. With little budget wiggle room they can not afford to be saddled with 4 or 5 years of a gamble on a players health. This way they have Votto for three years, can control Alonso for that period and be set at first base.

  21. OhioJim’s theory sounds dead on to me. That sounds like exactly whats going on. If the Reds continue to be successful, do the Reds project to be able to afford a $95M payroll like the Cardinals?

  22. To me there is zero reason why joey would want to sign anything longer then he did, what is the advantage to him?

  23. I think considering the contracts that both Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Texiera have gotten, the base of what Joey Votto could make is out there. Considering Joey Votto will be 30 years old when he could become a free agent for the first time, that deal is going to be a big one for him, so I can see not wanting to hold to see what the market will bear.

    This deal works out for both parties over the next couple of years and if the Reds can continue to win and Votto helps it happen, I think alot of money will take care of itself in the end. Or at least I hope that is the story…

    That said, the Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies and whoever ends up with Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols are going to have a ton of money tied up at first base in three years, so it isn’t like the market is going to be wide open at that position.

  24. And I don’t think this is bad from the Reds’ perspective. Let’s face it: unless Joey is an all-time great, he’s not going to win the MVP every year; and by the time this three year contract is up, Joey’s prime might be over. So, I think signing him for a huge number into his mid-30s would have been a mistake for a franchise with limited resources. If Joey has a year like he had last year in 2013, then the Reds haven’t really lost any bargaining power.

  25. From Lance McAlister’s blog:

    Reaction to Reds signing Joey Votto to 3-year, $38 million dollar deal:
    “I thought it was a total win for Camp Votto. He got market value and the Reds got no free agent years. I don’t know what the Reds were doing. If they are going to give him that much but get nothing in return then they should’ve just paid year by year in case he struggles”

    “The only thing the Reds got in their favor was the cost certainty for the next three years. I’m sure the Reds wanted to buyout 1-2 years of his free agency….but they had to make a decision. I’m sure Joey probably said no.

    • From Lance McAlister’s blog:Reaction to Reds signing Joey Votto to 3-year, $38 million dollar deal:“I thought it was a total win for Camp Votto. He got market value and the Reds got no free agent years. I don’t know what the Reds were doing. If they are going to give him that much but get nothing in return then they should’ve just paid year by year in case he struggles”-Agent“The only thing the Reds got in their favor was the cost certainty for the next three years. I’m sure the Reds wanted to buyout 1-2 years of his free agency….but they had to make a decision. I’m sure Joey probably said no.Agent

      I agree with both comments.

  26. There’s a good reason why the last player to go to arbitration with the Reds was Chris Reitsma. These things historically are won by the player and I’m sure the Walt & Co. wanted to rule out a bad outcome. I’m also sure they wanted to lock Joey up for more than 3 years, but that option was likely not on the table.

    Speculation about why he isn’t interested in doing a long term deal is pointless. He’s already said he doesn’t know what he wants to be doing 7-10 years from now. If this was any other ballplayer, I’d say maybe he’s posturing for a better deal down the road, or maybe he’s not happy in Cincinnati. Now that he’s said he can’t see himself playing anywhere else, I’d say we can rule out the latter, if we insist on speculating.

    Joey is a different kind of athlete. He may not be in this strictly for the money. He might be the kind of guy who walks away from baseball long before his talent wanes. He keeps his own counsel. If he says he doesn’t want to make a commitment 10 years down the road, why not just take him at his word?

  27. @Brien Jackson: I know what you mean, but I think if there is any player to avoid arbitration contention with, it may be Votto. Maybe they would say something more like “He’s a risk for depression and anxiety attacks” and that may lead to depression, anxiety or ill will…Of course, I don’t know JV personally, and it may be unfair to characterize him that way. Obviously, he’s an incredible talent, and seems to be intelligent and pretty even-tempered, but I did get the impression that he was dealing with very complicated emotions when he lost his dad. Anyway, this is probably exactly the kind of personal talk the Reds avoided, and (as you implied) they didn’t really have any bargaining power to get a longer deal done, anyway.

  28. It’s interesting that Fay reports both Joey and WJ talking about the advantage of cost/salary certainty and avoiding the pain in the neck of arbitration. As others have discussed above, there was apparently some discussion of 4 and 5 years, but they (not surprisingly) couldn’t get a grip on a number.

    The next time they talk, both sides will have more information, and hopefully something gets done. The Reds don’t want to be in the position the Cardinals currently are with Pujols.

    Finally, I think (an optimistic hunch) that Joey does want to stay in Cincy. He does say so, why not believe him. On the other hand, a lot can change in 3 years, and he knows that.

  29. I think McAlister undervalues the value of cost certainty in this situation. It’s critical for a franchise with limited resources, when it has the window to win, to know for certain what dollars it has available. Now the Reds know what they’ve allocated toward their best two players and they can better know how to fill in gaps over the next few off seasons.

    • I think McAlister undervalues the value of cost certainty in this situation. It’s critical for a franchise with limited resources, when it has the window to win, to know for certain what dollars it has available.

      I think that overstates it. There’s very little risk that Votto’s 2011 or 2012 arb award breaks the bank. Remember, players (and teams, for that matter) are only allowed to compare themselves to guys their year (service time) and one year ahead. There’s definitely some uncertainty to the process, but a Major League team should be able to project to a fairly narrow window.

  30. From the looks of things, it seems the Reds are banking pretty heavily on attendance and revenue increasing over the next two seasons while saving a great deal of money the first two years of his deal.

    Fay says Votto gets (including bonus money) $8 million this year and $11 million next before his salary balloons to $17 million in 2013. That saves about $2 million off of his expected arbitration raise this year, and who knows for next year. And if the fans don’t respond and the revenue doesn’t substantially increase, well then, they pretty much have to trade him before his 2013 payroll number comes due.

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