Reds - General

Vottonomics 101: The Market

[Multiple sources now confirm that Joey Votto and the Reds have reached an organization-defining agreement extending the first baseman’s contract ten years. This post is the first in a series here over the next few days analyzing the economics of the Votto contract.]

How does Joey Votto’s new agreement compare with other MLB contracts?

Before yesterday’s big news, two of the four MLB contracts for over $200 million belonged to a single player, Alex Rodriguez, who signed one each with the Yankees and the Texas Rangers. Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder joined this elite club earlier this off-season. Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira and Ryan Howard are also first basemen who signed deals paying them more than $20 million a year.

The table below establishes the context for Votto’s deal. It organizes the data for the recent mega-contracts signed by first basemen into columns for the age of the player at the start of the contract, the total amount of the contract, the duration and span of the contract and the annualized salary.

[table id=101 /]

Of the six in this market, Albert Pujols’ contract is the most generous and runs until the lastest age. That’s arguably well deserved because he’s in the “best hitter since Babe Ruth” conversation. Votto owns a Gold Glove, as do Teixeira (4), Gonzalez (3) and Pujols (2). The Reds’ first baseman has been his league’s MVP, as have Pujols (3) and Howard (1).

The Tigers’ offer to Fielder surprised many analysts. The second highest bidding team was reportedly the LA Dodgers who offered Fielder 7 years at $160 million. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated described the Fielder signing as an “ownership-driven, impulsive” contract. The Tigers’ 72-year old owner, Mike Illitch, is known to want desperately a World Series championship for the city of Detroit. The Fielder deal has further been criticized as too large for a player who may end up spending the latter part as a DH.

The Votto contract is roughly in line with comparable signings. The most remarkable aspect was that the agreement was reached two seasons before Votto’s free agency, which is virtually unique among the comparison contracts. Only the much-shorter Howard deal was equal in that regard. Votto negotiated only with the Reds; he was not engaged in a bidding war like those exploited by Fielder and Pujols. The Reds must have felt these terms were better than ones they could have reached a year or two from now.

Possibly the most important way the Votto contract stands alone can be seen by comparing the club payrolls for the six teams. The Reds’ projected 2012 payroll ($82 million) is less than half that of the Yankees ($208 million), Red Sox ($169 million), Phillies ($166 million) and substantially below the Angels ($146 million) and Tigers ($128 million).

19 thoughts on “Vottonomics 101: The Market

  1. Unfortunately, your last sentence summarizes why this deal may cripple the Reds in 2018 and beyond. What player outside the steroid era played significantly above replacement level after turning 35? I guess we enjoy the ride, because I fear a dark era in Reds baseball once Votto sees ages 35-40.

  2. Leave it to Reds fans: finally make a great signing of an MVP player and all anyone wants to talk about is how this is gonna suck in 2018. Cry out for the contract, gets the contract, complain about contract: the typical Reds fan. I hope the people worrying about 2018 don’t sit here and celebrate any playoff appearances, awards by players, or even wins. This is a moment to be happy to be a Reds fan. Not find new ways to complain.

  3. I think if the team performs up to expectations they end up selling a lot more tickets which would in turn support the higher budget. The projected payroll for next year is about $6m more than last, which, given some sustained success, shouldn’t be out of line.

  4. I would rather have the contract the Reds gave Votto over the deal the Giants gave Cain.

  5. The question was did Votto want to stay with the Reds long term? Now Bob and Walt have got it done, and it’s good for the Reds. Phillips will soon be part of a trade; hopefully to a team that can give him a big contract.

  6. I’m thrilled about the contract for a few different reasons.
    1) I’d rather have Votto locked up for a long time and try and put players around him to make a good team rather than have no Votto at all.
    2) I didn’t want to see the Reds lose this caliber of player to another team next year, let alone another NL Central team like the Cubs.
    3) I was privledged to see Barry Larkin succeed in a Reds uniform for a very long time & not have to worry about losing him to a higher bidder. I’m glad my son will be able to do the same as a Votto fan. (And my Votto jersey won’t be obsolete and be shop rags next year)

    I wish there weren’t so many people complaining about this contract. Would people rather see Votto in another uniform? I think the Reds are damned if they do, damned if they don’t in the court of public opinion. This move shows that the Reds want to win and aren’t just concerned with making money. After the 2010 season it seems like people quickly forgot that the Reds stunk up the joint for over a decade. The Reds are making proactive moves to be a better team and I’m excited to be a REDS FAN!!!

  7. Leave it to Reds fans: finally make a great signing of an MVP player and all anyone wants to talk about is how this is gonna suck in 2018. Cry out for the contract, gets the contract, complain about contract: the typical Reds fan. I hope the people worrying about 2018 don’t sit here and celebrate any playoff appearances, awards by players, or even wins. This is a moment to be happy to be a Reds fan. Not find new ways to complain.

    So by this logic a person cannot be concerned about the amount of money spent for the contract and be a Reds fan? The two are not mutually exclusive. The Reds would have been just as good this year without the extension. So it really has nothing to do with how good the Reds are at this year. If the issue is the future of the franchise with Votto in the fold, then why is it inappropriate to discuss the entirety of the contract? I have repeatedly said Reds fans will love the deal in the short term, but no player escapes age and there is no assurance that Votto will earn his contract through a g 35 through 40 seasons. Ask Colorado fans what they think about todd helton’s contract now as opposed to when it was first signed. I am not saying it is a bad deal in the short term. I am expressing a legitimate concern about committing to a player for so long.

    • So by this logic a person cannot be concerned about the amount of money spent for the contract and be a Reds fan? The two are not mutually exclusive. The Reds would have been just as good this year without the extension. So it really has nothing to do with how good the Reds are at this year. If the issue is the future of the franchise with Votto in the fold, then why is it inappropriate to discuss the entirety of the contract? I have repeatedly said Reds fans will love the deal in the short term, but no player escapes age and there is no assurance that Votto will earn his contract through a g 35 through 40 seasons. Ask Colorado fans what they think about todd helton’s contract now as opposed to when it was first signed. I am not saying it is a bad deal in the short term. I am expressing a legitimate concern about committing to a player for so long.

      Welcome to baseball in this era, either you pony up and give the very top level stars long term deals or another team will. It’s here to stay…

  8. Welcome to baseball in this era, either you pony up and give the very top level stars long term deals or another team will. It’s here to stay…

    Amen.

  9. I think Votto is going to age extremely well. Look at Jim Thome, a thicker build but still being able to play when needed to. I think Votto will become a defensive liability before he becomes one in the lineup, and I’m not sure he’ll regress all that much. Defy the odds. Maybe we’ll have another contract discussion keeping the ageless Votto a Red for another five years after he continues to put up ridiculous numbers in his late 30s. Optimism baby. Drink the Koolaid.

  10. Many major league executives are suggesting that the team will regret this deal before it reaches the halfway point. How many times have people on this board suggested that BP deserve to get paid but that we should not the the team that overpays?

  11. Hell of a deal for the Reds. Having coached other sports for many years, you look for the complete package of mind, ability, and desire and on all counts Joey exceeds on all of these counts. Positive factors- age and how he is taking care of his body, competitiveness, ability- no question here yet baseball is very cruel to older players who drop significantly and suddenly. The question that I have is this, every generation there are two or three players who are remarkable and can play at a very high level for a very long time. Is Joey one of those players? If so, holy mother of god the Big Red Machine could return! Cueto, Latos, Chapman, Corcino, Stephenson, Votto, Bruce, Stubbs- could he become Geronimo for this version? Mesoraco, Cozart, Gregorius, Frasier, Heisey. We might be all in for this year but the future looks incredible. Who will step forward this year? My guess is Heisey but whatever. What will Votto do this year? Comfortable and secure. Huge Reds year ahead.

  12. @David: By your logic there, you’re suggesting Phillips is 2 years younger and of equal value to Votto. He isn’t. On top of that, his skill set, which I would consider his balls out defense, his consistent .280 avg, 18 homer, 82 rbi season, to be a declinable skill set, and it will begin to decline sooner rather than later. If you pay Phillips what he wants, you pay an over 30 second basemen money that should be going to MVP caliber first basemen. And I’m curious to see your source for the many execs statement. ESPN on Buster Olney’s blog even has most of the executives he talked to saying it’s a move the Reds should’ve made and that it was an overpay, but nowadays you have to over pay. Over pay for an MVP, top ten player in the league. Not a second basemen who makes his money being athletic.

  13. The Reds aren’t afraid to spend again. They were the first team to sign a player to a $100M deal when then extended Griffey, and now just the 4th club to lock a player up in a $200+ million deal.

    I don’t think Votto is the injury risk that Griffey was (in hindsight), and this organization is in MUCH better shape than it was 12 years ago. The farm system is developing players, and they’ve locked up a good core of players.

    Some of that is payment to Votto is for past services when he was really underpaid relative to his performance on the field.

    If you read my thread a couple of weeks ago, I wouldn’t be surprised if the NL is using the DH before Votto’s deal expires. I’m not suggesting that the Reds factored that possibility into their decision. Just noting that it is a good possibility, and I think it would be of benefit to the Reds now.

  14. David: By your logic there, you’re suggesting Phillips is 2 years younger and of equal value to Votto. He isn’t. On top of that, his skill set, which I would consider his balls out defense, his consistent .280 avg, 18 homer, 82 rbi season, to be a declinable skill set, and it will begin to decline sooner rather than later. If you pay Phillips what he wants, you pay an over 30 second basemen money that should be going to MVP caliber first basemen. And I’m curious to see your source for the many execs statement. ESPN on Buster Olney’s blog even has most of the executives he talked to saying it’s a move the Reds should’ve made and that it was an overpay, but nowadays you have to over pay. Over pay for an MVP, top ten player in the league. Not a second basemen who makes his money being athletic.

    My point is simple, you dont overpay 30 somethings. Derek Lee was once a very good first baseman. He can’t find work. Vlad Guerrero was one of the best hitters in baseball, he can’t find a job. There is a reason you dont see many 36 year olds in the league. Theres even less who are above replacement level. Consider for one second that Votto it’s going to be paid over $80 million AFTER his 36th birthday, and you will see the issue. You can assume Votto will be different, but thats a huge risk and a risk that is unwise to take. The Reds basically paid 225 million bucks to extend the window by another two years. In my view the extension does little to increase the Reds chances of winning the world series in the next 12 years. I thought they’d get one, thats still probably the case.

    Ps – mlbtraderumors.com

  15. Well a number of us here have been putting forth the viewpoint that “small market” is really more a state of mind than a state of being where the Reds are concerned.

    Mr Castellini just put a huge amount of his money where our mouths have been. I guess we shall see how it all turns out over the next several years.

Comments are closed.