From Jon Heyman at CBSSports.com:

One obvious reason Votto, who hit .309 with 29 home runs, 110 RBI and a league-leading .415 on-base percentage in 2011, is hoping Pujols and Fielder show they are worthy of those mega deals is that he hopes to follow their lead. That goes for the contract. But it doesn’t necessarily mean Votto sees himself leaving Cincinnati. Although he said the Reds haven’t approached him yet about a new deal, his heart seems to be in Cincinnati.

“I’m very proud I’m with the Reds,” Votto said at one point.

When asked if he’d like to stay, he answered, “I definitely do.”

Ok. Does this give you hope or is Joey just being “politically correct”?

Little more from Joey…

While Votto envisions a Reds future, a lot of other folks wonder whether the Reds, a small-market team like Fielder’s old Brewers team, will allot the money it would take to keep a superstar longterm. There’s no evidence the Brewers were anywhere close to the ballpark for Fielder (they are believed to have offered $120 million over six years at one point). Milwaukee and Cincinnati are similarly-sized cities, but Votto isn’t sure there’s a parallel to be drawn.

“My situation is totally different. Cincinnati is a totally different city,” Votto said. “Although (Milwaukee’s) attendance jumped recently, our TV ratings are good and our fans desperately want to come to games. We just have to put a good product on the field.”

So, what do you think? Mean something? Just talk? Gives the Reds an opportunity?

28 Responses

  1. royhobbs

    I say let him walk. I love having him on the team right now and he’s probably the best Reds hitter I’ve seen since I became a fan in the late 70s, but if he wants 9-10 years, then he’s going to play half of that contract from age 35-40. How long can they expect him to perform at a level that’s worth the pay? That just doesn’t make sense for the Reds and their revenue stream. I’m assuming he won’t be interested in a 6 year deal worth 120 million.

  2. Steve Mancuso

    It sounds like Votto is open to staying with the Reds in a way that Fielder never seemed to be with the Brewers. That’s unambiguously positive.

    Ultimately this will come down to ownership making the move to adjust the business model for the team. Increasing the major league salary budget to the $90 million neighborhood would allow them to keep Votto without sacrificing the overall viability of the team.

    One encouraging ‘read between the lines’ hint is the way the Reds have been talking about extending Votto. I can’t imagine they would knowingly set themselves up for huge failure in the eyes of their fans.

    I’ve never fully bought in to the “all-in Votto window” frame for looking at the Reds recent moves. I see the Cueto, Bruce, and Marshall signings, and the Latos trade, all as a move to take the team to the next level of competitiveness on a permanent basis.

    The moves make just as much sense (maybe even more) in a world where the Reds expect to extend Votto beyond 2013 than they do in a world where they don’t.

    • Travis G.

      It sounds like Votto is open to staying with the Reds in a way that Fielder never seemed to be with the Brewers. That’s unambiguously positive.

      Ultimately this will come down to ownership making the move to adjust the business model for the team. Increasing the major league salary budget to the $90 million neighborhood would allow them to keep Votto without sacrificing the overall viability of the team.

      I agree with everything you wrote in your post, but I’ll focus on the above points. Votto always comes across as a sincere guy, and it sounds like he’s willing to stay for the right price. Of course, meeting that price is going to be the hard part, but it’s not a foregone conclusion that the Reds won’t be able.

      Votto’s current deal runs through 2013, when Rolen, Arroyo and possibly Phillips will be off the books. (Of course, Bruce and Cueto will become more expensive by that point.) Let’s assume improved attendance this year and next as a result of the team’s brilliant performance in those seasons. But the biggest change could be coming a couple of years into a hypothetical Votto extension, when the Reds are able to renegotiate their TV deal. That’s believed to run through 2016, but currently pays about $10 million per year. Given the current market and the Reds consistently strong ratings, they should be able to improve on that substantially.

      But that would require them to tread water for a couple of years until that new money started rolling in. Attendance is going to be a major factor in their ability to re-sign Votto.

      • Steve Mancuso

        But the biggest change could be coming a couple of years into a hypothetical Votto extension, when the Reds are able to renegotiate their TV deal. That’s believed to run through 2016, but currently pays about $10 million per year. Given the current market and the Reds consistently strong ratings, they should be able to improve on that substantially.

        I wonder if the TV network would be willing to speed up their renegotiation of the contract in light of the Votto situation. While at first glance one wouldn’t expect a network to do that, because they benefit from the current payment, if the impact is being able to keep Votto, the network has a stake in resigning Votto. People watch more when the Reds are good. Votto resigning keeps the Reds good.

      • royhobbs

        @Travis G.:

        I agree with everything you wrote in your post, but I’ll focus on the above points. Votto always comes across as a sincere guy, and it sounds like he’s willing to stay for the right price. Of course, meeting that price is going to be the hard part, but it’s not a foregone conclusion that the Reds won’t be able.Votto’s current deal runs through 2013, when Rolen, Arroyo and possibly Phillips will be off the books. (Of course, Bruce and Cueto will become more expensive by that point.) Let’s assume improved attendance this year and next as a result of the team’s brilliant performance in those seasons. But the biggest change could be coming a couple of years into a hypothetical Votto extension, when the Reds are able to renegotiate their TV deal. That’s believed to run through 2016, but currently pays about $10 million per year. Given the current market and the Reds consistently strong ratings, they should be able to improve on that substantially.But that would require them to tread water for a couple of years until that new money started rolling in. Attendance is going to be a major factor in their ability to re-sign Votto.

        None of this addresses the fact that you’re going to be paying that money in years 6-9 to a player above the age of 35. I could see him still hitting for average through some of those years, but his power would probably be declining. Would it be worth 20-25 million a year for that type of player? Seems like they missed their opportunity to give him the Jay Bruce deal back when they had a shot. It was clear after his 2nd year in the big leagues and before he won the MVP that he was a special player. Of course, his time missed in 2009 due to dizzy spells and his father as he put it, may have made them hesitant. A 6 year deal after 2009 would have bought out some of those free agent years.

    • royhobbs

      @Steve Mancuso:

      @royhobbs: Agree on ‘no’ to eight or nine years. But could they agree on $150 million over six years?

      Not if he wants 9 or 10 years. 😛 Someone will give it to him, probably the Yankees. Teixeira can always slide over to DH.

      • CaptainTonyKW

        Teixera has won four Gold Gloves…

        @Steve Mancuso:

        Not if he wants 9 or 10 years. Someone will give it to him, probably the Yankees.Teixeira can always slide over to DH.

  3. Sultan of Swaff

    It’s been a while since I’ve heard an impending free agent say he didn’t want to stay with his club…..only to bolt for the highest dollar later. The agents coach these guys to say that stuff, so nothing new here. While the comments are appreciated, what really matters is that the Reds start laying out some definitive plans for how to approach this negotiation and communicate that to Votto’s people. They need to establish a finite window for extension talks. Barring an agreement, it will be understood by both sides the Reds focus will turn to leveraging his trade value to better the team. I think Votto would appreciate the Reds being transparent in this process.

  4. Bill Lack

    Just read this on Heyman’s Twitter feed:

    Another nugget from my votto interview. No chance he goes home to toronto if jays stick to 5-year limit.

  5. mountainandy

    @CaptainTonyKW:

    Teixera’s dWAR dropped to -.1 last year and his oWAR declined to 2.5. Votto’s dWAR was .7 with an oWAR of 5.8. Teixera is trending down, Votto is trending up and is 3 years younger. I know who I’d put at First for the long-haul.

  6. preach

    Sounds to me that Joey is saying “The team can do it if they want to.” He’d like to stay, but he wants top dollar.

  7. pinson343

    I don’t like ridiculously long (8+ years) contracts, even for a great player. They never work out, except SF for Barry Bonds.

    That said, I’d like to see the Reds make every effort – within reason – to keep him more than 2 years. How about 5 years with a lot of bucks per year ? If they do that soon enough (right now would mean a 3 year extension), Joey V. will still have a chance for a second huge payday.

    I heard an interview Joey V. gave last season. He’s put a lot of thought into what free agency means. His bottom line is that players like him are underpaid until they hit free agency (hard to argue with that), and they owe it to themselves to make up for that when they hit free agency. After hearing that interview, I thought there was 0 chance he’d stay with the Reds.

    Now that the Reds have made it clear they’re going to do what they can to keep him, I’m not sure. Even the Yankees said they’re going to cut payroll.

  8. pinson343

    @Steve Mancuso: Working on upping the tv contract is crucial. A huge tv contract made it possible for the Angels to make their mega-offer to Pujols. Even the Padres have come up with a huge tv contract, why not the Reds ?

  9. SFredsfan

    This edition of the Reds is to be decided. Tooo much spring ball. Love the potential of the starting pitching if Bailey steps up. Could be a dominating force for the Reds. Who will move from level to level without issues? Pitching seems to be open and interesting. We have studs on the farm. Good luck

  10. TC

    If players can get new contracts and better money under a “contract extension”, why can’t the Reds get a “contract extension” with FSNO.

    • Travis G.

      If players can get new contracts and better money under a “contract extension”, why can’t the Reds get a “contract extension” with FSNO.

      I can’t see FSO offering to redo this sweetheart of a TV deal unless a.) the Reds offer to take less money over the life of the deal in exchange for more money up front or b.) the Reds start making noise about forming their own network when this contract runs out. Option “a” is much more plausible, I would think.

  11. rightsaidred

    @pinson343: Hard to argue with their top 5 but Kruk doesn’t deserve to be on the list unless being overweight makes one ugly.

    As a Cincy guy, Tyrone Hill was never pretty but taking the worst picture from his last year in the league doesn’t put him in the top 10.

  12. rightsaidred

    @Steve Mancuso: I agree that this sounds positive at the very least. Joey is making reference to himself and this city as being ‘different’. I think the Fielder situation is no longer comparable based on his response. More akin to Pujols now so still a long shot . . .

  13. Travis G.

    But the bottom line is, if fans want the Reds to re-sign Joey Votto, they’re going to have to buy tickets — lots and lots of tickets — to the games this summer and next. I’m thinking they’ll have to average about least 30,000 per game over those two seasons to even be in the ballpark (!) with Votto’s demands. They’ve done that six times in team history, with the last year being 2000.

  14. CP

    @royhobbs: Assuming we’re talking extension beginning in 2014, you’re expressing 2019-2024 dollars in 2012 terms. It’s pretty possible that $20-25 million then won’t be worth more than $14-$15 million in today’s money. I try to leave my politics at the door when baseball is involved, but rising interest + inflation rates will reduce the worth of years 6-10.

    • royhobbs

      @CP:

      @royhobbs: Assuming we’re talking extension beginning in 2014, you’re expressing 2019-2024 dollars in 2012 terms. It’s pretty possible that $20-25 million then won’t be worth more than $14-$15 million in today’s money. I try to leave my politics at the door when baseball is involved, but rising interest + inflation rates will reduce the worth of years 6-10.

      Well, you raise a good point. Hadn’t thought of it that way.

  15. TC

    @CP: Let’s see… At an average annual inflation rate of 3% a $20 M contract would be worth in real dollars over 10 years:

    1: $20 M
    2: $19.41 M
    3: $18.85 M
    4: $18.3 M
    5: $17.77 M
    6: $17.25 M
    7: $16.75 M
    8: $16.25 M
    9: $15.75 M
    10: $15.39 M

    I found the idea intriguing since I’ve never heard that before. The value of a buck drops about 25% every 10 years. Of course there is always the possibility the economy will suffer from deflation. That would be like… bad I think.

  16. CP

    @TC: Given the current economy, you are likely undervaluing inflation at 3% as well. The media largely ignores time value of money because they themselves either don’t understand it or because it’s boring. It’s more exciting to say BIG MONEY!!!!

    And you’re right…if deflation occurs…let’s just say baseball might be the least of our worries.

    @royhobbs: It’s altogether possible these big money guys will still be dramatically overpaid. First, because baseball is a monopoly and there is at least some evidence that owners collude. Second, one of the things the Rays understand is that the low end of the salary pool (young players + “washed up” veterans) is less efficient, i.e. you can find significantly better deals by avoiding big money players altogether. On the other hand, the elite players tends to be driven by market prices.
    The Reds may still be better off letting Votto go. Opportunity cost of the $95-$100 million spent on Votto years 6-10 may be better spent elsewhere.

  17. Steve Mancuso

    The core inflation rate is 2.2% right now and has been below 2.5% for the last five years, usually well below that. So I don’t think we could count on that to help make Votto’s contract more affordable. The way inflation would express itself would be if the ownership gradually increased the salary budget by about 2% per year – so a little less than $2 million increase per year. Over five years, the salary budget might increase from $80 million to $88 million due to cost of living increases, not real growth. Maybe Votto’s salary of $25 million would seem more affordable with the higher budget level. But every other salary would increase, including the pre arbitration league minimums.