Extension Candidate: Joey Votto

With Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols off of the market, Joey Votto is officially the next MVP-caliber first baseman scheduled to hit free agency. The 28-year-old will become available two years from now, after the 2013 season, and if he continues producing, he’ll obtain a mega-contract of his own. 

Joey Votto - Reds

Talk of a Brandon Phillips extension has persisted throughout much of the Reds’ offseason, but Votto, who signed a three-year deal just 12 months ago, is a candidate for a long-term deal of his own. The Reds are poised for a big year after acquiring Mat Latos, Ryan Madson and Sean Marshall, and may prefer to wait until after the season to explore a new contract for the first baseman.

If and when they do discuss a deal, there’s no indication the Reds are going to get a hometown discount from Votto. The Etobicoke, Ontario native finds himself well-positioned for a nine-figure contract. In the past five years, six first basemen have signed deals worth at least $100MM, and those contracts, which are listed below in chronological order, provide a frame of reference for agent Dan Lozano and Reds general manager Walt Jocketty:

  • Miguel Cabrera, Tigers – eight-year, $152.3MM contract signed 3/24/2008 (deal includes six free agent years at average annual value of $21MM each plus two arbitration years)
  • Mark Teixeira, Yankees – eight-year, $180MM contract signed 1/6/2009 (AAV of $22.5MM)
  • Ryan Howard, Phillies – five-year, $125MM contract signed 4/26/2010 (AAV of $25MM)
  • Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox – seven-year, $154MM contract signed 4/15/2011 (AAV of $22MM)
  • Albert Pujols, Angels – ten-year, $240MM contract signed 12/8/2011 (AAV of $24MM)
  • Prince Fielder, Tigers – nine-year, $214MM contract agreed to 1/24/2012 (AAV of $23.78MM)

Back in November, before Pujols and Fielder signed, Ken Rosenthal reported that Reds CEO Bob Castellini appears to believe an extension for Votto is possible. Talks haven't begun yet, according to Jocketty. The GM told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer yesterday that he hopes to keep Votto in Cincinnati for “a while.” The Reds haven't had a payroll over $81MM since hiring Jocketty and if accommodating Votto's salary in 2012, when he earns $9.5MM, or in 2013, when he earns $17MM, seems difficult, then buying out his free agent years surely will, too.

Securing free agent years from the first basemen above cost a minimum average annual value of $21MM. Cabrera and Howard were two years away from free agency when they signed their contracts and Gonzalez was one year away when he signed his, but they didn’t have to sign at a discount. Neither will Votto. 

If the Reds wanted to lock the 2010 NL MVP up now, I expect it would cost at least seven additional years for $23MM or so per season. Adding a $161MM commitment to the $26.5MM on Votto’s current contract would keep Votto in Cincinnati through his age 36 season — the same age through which Gonzalez, Fielder, Howard and Teixeira are under contract.  

An extension for Votto would be an immense investment for a small-market team such as the Reds, but there’s a dearth of power on the free agent market and the power bats who do become available get paid. In an offseason when the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and Dodgers weren’t serious bidders for first basemen, Pujols and Fielder signed the third and fourth largest contracts in MLB history. Votto would seem to be next in line for a nine-figure free agent payday, so the Reds will have to spend big — probably $160MM-plus — to keep him in place.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


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47 Comments on "Extension Candidate: Joey Votto"


$5427573
3 years 7 months ago

I’d love to see him come to Toronto at some point in time, but of course i’m just dreaming.

algionfriddo
3 years 7 months ago

Good NL first basemen are really hard to find nowadays.  Howard is hurt and after Votto, the dropoff is dramatic.  Who will step up to fill the vacuum?  Freeman?  Belt?

stl_cards16
3 years 7 months ago

You’re right, there’s not much proven talent there in the NL. I would say Rizzo and Alonso will soon be top first baseman. Matt Adams here in St. Louis is another one that could be on the rise.

Lars Chunks
3 years 7 months ago

Gotta think after trading Alonso that the Reds will go all in on Votto now.

Lars Chunks
3 years 7 months ago

Paul Goldschmidt, Michael Morse, Gaby Sanchez.  Lots of young guys waiting to make an impact.

TheMagicIsBack
3 years 7 months ago

Ike Davis

3 years 7 months ago

With inflation I can see him getting over 200 mil in free agency 2 years from now

jhfdssdaf
3 years 7 months ago

Fielder got $200M plus.  Votto is better than Fielder.  Even being 3 years older at free agency, I think most GMs will be more certain of Votto than they were this year of Fielder.

I agree.  If he waits until free agency, he should be able to get close to $200M, if not above.

eyeglass1
3 years 7 months ago

I really hope the Reds don’t spend that on him. If they do, they will be stuck badly in a place where they will not be able to afford pitching and other players. They are small market. That’s the truth. Follow the Rays lead. Trade him in the next two years and get a boatload back for him. I really do like Votto but is the positives worth the negatives in signing him and crippling your payroll? 

Leachpunk
3 years 7 months ago

Maybe they can trade him to the Padres and get Alonso back?

raffish
3 years 7 months ago

YANKS/SOX may not have been in play for Pujols/Fielder, but would they have spent MORE than DET/LAA?  There are a lot of big spenders in this league.

UnbaisedSoxFan
3 years 7 months ago

The Reds would be silly not to lock up Votto for a long time before he hits free agency. He is a great player to build a franchise around for a long time.

jhfdssdaf
3 years 7 months ago

The Reds will have to increase payroll significantly if they are going to lock up Votto.  $20+ million to one player is very difficult if payroll stays around $80 million. 

UnbaisedSoxFan
3 years 7 months ago

This is true, but if they plan on competing for years to come, they definitely should see if there is a way to keep him. I understand they are small market team, but with Theo taking over the Cubs (could be competitive in a couple of years) and the Cardinals almost always competing, its going to be hard if they don’t resign him to keep up. You also have to think about the other teams around them only getting better (Nationals,Diamondbacks,Dodgers(after they are bought out),ect). It’s going to be a fight for those two wild card spots and if they don’t have his bat in the lineup then their chances go considerably down. However, if they can trade him and get an absolute haul, then go for it and stock up young, cost controllable talent that fits their financial needs.

3 years 7 months ago

The latter move is probably the better more realistic move for maintaining competitiveness over the long run.

UnbaisedSoxFan
3 years 7 months ago

Oh absolutely. But that is contingent on someone willing to deplete their farm for Votto (which I would do. He’s a stud.) and the value of the pieces they could get in return. Whereas, signing him to a long term deal, only relies on money. Personally, I only pull the trigger if you can get a MLB ready first baseman to take his place right after the deal. IMO this is the Cardinals division to lose, however, there is a chance that the Reds can re-see some of that magic from 2010 with the additions they have made this off-season and the addition by subtraction of Pujols and Fielder from the NL Central.

UnbaisedSoxFan
3 years 7 months ago

woops, double post.

3 years 7 months ago

Hopefully with a solid team this year Reds fans will come out to games stronger than last year and create some additional revenue to spend on payroll.  We’ll call it the “Anti-Anti-Mike Brown” plan…

eyeglass1
3 years 7 months ago

This is football related, but you did notice that (maybe, cross your fingers) Mike Brown may have actually (slightly) learned how to run a team laster year? Hey, it takes some kids 20 years to learn to do anything right. :) Also, we can hope he spends and improves his scouting department. That’s how small markets win, right? 

MiltonMan
3 years 7 months ago

Votto is playing out this deal, and hopes to sign with Toronto after 2013…he’s told more than a few people back home that he’s waiting for that chance…….Cincy won’t get his name on a deal because his family comes first.

To be clear- that’s NOT saying he’ll sign here for certain, but it’s likely that the Jays will have the right of first refusal on him when the time comes.

jb226
3 years 7 months ago

“First refusal” only matters if it were a yes or no question.  It’s going to come down to dollars and how bad he wants to play in Toronto (assuming that is even true).

CAN the Jays afford him?  Absolutely.  Are they going to want to?  I don’t know.  It’s hard to see where the AL East and the Jays are at two years from now.  It seems to me that their bigger need would be starting pitching  and how their prospects start shaking out over the next couple of years.

johnsilver
3 years 7 months ago

I really despised that AGone deal when Boston 1st made it.. Giving up sure thing people like Rizzo and Kelly, plus another blue chipper in Fuentes that will probably be ready to take over CF once Maybin prices himself out of the Padres budget.

But once you see all these horrendous contracts given out both before (Howard) and after (Pujols, Fielder) am very glad they made that deal and locked up he est overall of the bunch once offense, defense and the age factor are all added and then the best salary and length to boot for when it expires.

Boston and NY did very well locking up the 2 youngest and best offense +defense, once you factor in age here. Someone getting Votto should do nice, but teams willing to spend highly for that position is drying up and people should think of that, or teams that actually have the money. Sure the nationals have it, but it takes multiple teams to make a bidding war and with big spenders out of the market.. Ya gotta’ add that factor in.

jb226
3 years 7 months ago

I won’t speak to the A-Gon trade (I hope it hurts because the Cubs now have one of the key pieces!), but the A-Gon contract was pretty good.  If a team is going to spend that kind of money, Gonzalez is a great player to spend it on.  I think the Tigers and Angels will both be suffering under the Fielder/Pujols contracts before they end, and neither was ever a great defender (Fielder below average and Pujols around average).

Votto will be a nice sign as well, for the same reasons, as long as they keep the years sane — seven tops, six preferred.  Don’t worry about him, he’ll get paid.

johnsilver
3 years 7 months ago

I agree with you there on Epstein swindling his old compadre out of Rizzo.. That was a very nice move.. Not having to over pay for Fielder for a rebuilding team and getting a superb defensive + offensive guy, much along the lines of AGone to boot that he never wanted to part with in the 1st place.

Yes.. Votto may not be in for one of those super long term deals that Pujols and Fielder got, since it seems that the Nationals are at least sane on that point, but I predict that that will be his destination on as you said… a 6-7 year deal and he is far and away a better player than Fielder.. All the way around…

ImperialStout
3 years 7 months ago

Wow…. that Cabrera contract looks amazing compared to the rest of those.  What an insane bargain!  

UnbaisedSoxFan
3 years 7 months ago

That’s really cause you figure the arbitration into that contract. They would have had 2 more years of control over him if they didn’t sign the extension. AAV of 21 million is only a few million shy of what the others got. Regardless, I agree with your comment. He’s a terrific player and that was to get him that low.

3 years 7 months ago

I think that the Reds will make a legit attempt to keep him. Everything they’ve been doing for the past year seems to be geared toward keeping Votto if possible.  Cordero is now off the books (his replacement Madson is cheaper and will most likely be gone in 1 or 2 yrs) Arroyo’s ridiculous contract is up the same time as Votto’s, Phillips will either be gone or re-signed at a lower annual value than this year’s option, Bruce/Cueto/Chapman are all already signed to fairly team friendly contracts for several years.  I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but at least I think they have a chance…..

UnbaisedSoxFan
3 years 7 months ago

I think they definitely have a chance of signing him with the idea that they will build a team around him. I don’t think the signing comes before he hits free agency though. I think it would be incredibly smart to sign him to a long term deal and build the team around him, however, as stated in other posts, the Reds have very limited money (although seeing what you posted is a great argument). I feel like they will give it their best shot, and if he walks, then they are screwed. lol. 

SunsetStripper
3 years 7 months ago

The Red’s won’t be able to afford him.  The Red’s are going to go for it for a couple
of years and let him walk.

Gunner65
3 years 7 months ago

They’d be stupid to let it get to that point. Try to work out an extension … when that fails, trade him off to the highest bidder.

ctownboy
3 years 7 months ago

Who says Votto wants to STAY in Cincinnati?

A few years ago, when Votto’s Dad died and Votto had those mental issues he had to deal with, it was reported Votto thought about either quitting baseball or taking some time off because he was concerned about and wanted to be closer to his two younger brothers.  He wanted to be around them more so that he could help look after them.  What is to say that in two years, even if the Reds somehow DO find a way to pay him over $20 million a year, that Votto doesn’t want to play in Toronto and be closer to his little brothers?

Has anyone ever thought of what happened to the Reds when King Griffey Jr and Adam “one tool” Dunn took up a combined 1/4 and then 1/3 of the team payroll?  Votto was on those teams and he saw that when those two took up so large a percentage of team payroll that the Reds were pulling people off the scrap heap to fill in holes.  He also saw the team wasn’t very good.

Also, when those two took up so much payroll and the team was losing, he saw how they took most of the blame for the teams’ failures.  Do you think Votto would be happy taking the heat for the team losing if he is taking up 1/4 of the total team payroll?

According to Cots, in 2014, Johnny Cueto and Jay Bruce are both scheduled to make $10 million dollars each.  If they are still on the team then, Mike Leake and  Drew Stubbs will be Arb eligible.  More importantly, if Mat Latos is still on the team he will be Arb eligible and if he pitches like everybody thinks (hopes) he can, don’t you think he will be getting paid MORE than $10 million a year?

Finally, depending on how he performs, Aroldis Chapman has a chance to have his salary converted to a bonus and to also be eligible for salary Arbitration.

Now, even if the Reds raise team payroll to $100 million dollars in 2014 (not likely) and pay Votto $23 million a year (a discount) it still would mean the team would most likely have over $60 million dollars (probably closer to $70 million dollars) tied up in Votto, Bruce, Cueto, Latos and Chapman. That would leave between $30 to $35 million dollars for the OTHER 20 players on the 25 man roster.

Does anyone REALLY think this is feasible or likely?  I don’t and I doubt Joey Votto (or his agents) do either.

About the only way I see this happening is if Ca$htellini sells the team and somebody like Mark Cuban buys it and decides he wants to win a World Series (and suffer a financial loss) instead of just making a profit each year.

ctownboy
3 years 7 months ago

I am sorry but I see what the Reds have done in the past year as them trying to “win now” because they know Votto is gone in two years.

Heck, who is to say that Votto hasn’t already told them he is gone in two years and that they better do something to improve the team NOW or they should trade him?

stewie75
3 years 7 months ago

good thing that rocket scientist votto made it a point to tell everyone he’d NEEEEVER play in wrigley, good job thumbing your nose at a team that would’ve helped drive your asking price up. let’s just hope he sticks to that point and we don’t hear from his agent how the cubs are sooo interested like boras tried with fielder alll offseason.

BobbyJohn
3 years 7 months ago

I would trade him before spring training this year. At what he’s going to cost the next two years they could get a LOAD for him right now.

Even with Votto, I don’t think they have enough, so why not totally raid another club and be in a better overall position in two years?

jhfdssdaf
3 years 7 months ago

If the Reds hadn’t already taken the top off their own farm system to acquire Latos, might agree with you.

The Reds are clearly in win now mode.  You don’t rebuild when you’re trying to win.  If the gamble failed, and they are largely out of it come trade deadline, then getting a boat-load for Votto makes sense.

If you were going to trade Votto before spring training, though, you don’t send out top prospects for Latos.  You keep the prospects, and build for the future.

Deplete your own farm system then deplete someone else’s makes it a Votto for Latos kind of switch – that’s a losing proposition every time.

I think the Reds can compete for the division, and clearly they are trying to do so. 

redstronic
3 years 7 months ago

I like most all of your points but although the Reds gave up some highly touted prospects, their Farm System is hardly depleted.  Hamilton is MLB’s #4 top SS prospect, Mesoraco is the #2 CC prospect and Neftali Feliz 1B, Henry Rodriquez 2B, Danial Corcino Pitcher will likely be on those lists in next year or the year follow for Corcino.  The Reds have a good amount of talent on their A & AA teams with Feliz moving up to AAA after a 30+ HR season last year.

3 years 7 months ago

Call me what you want but I think these 20m-a-year salaries are ridiculous.  Nobody and I mean nobody is worth 1/4-1/5 a team’s payroll.  This breaking new thresholds on contracts every single year is honestly a crime.  Agents and players are holding teams hostage to pay for the back end of their career. 

Brent Schuber
3 years 7 months ago

he should be able to get 8yrs 200 mil

sourbob
3 years 7 months ago

Obviously, contracts should pay for future performance, not past performance. But what’s insane about Howard’s contract is that it does neither. This shouldn’t be news to anyone, but I hadn’t seen it broken down like this, so it still threw me for a loop.

Number of times in career Fangraphs rated dollar value as exceeding AAV of current deal: Cabrera, 5; Teixeira, 2; Gonzalez, 2; Pujols, 8; Fielder, 2; HOWARD, ZERO.

The Phillies are paying a guy going into his decline years an AAV more than he has ever been worth in any year of his career EVER.

jhfdssdaf
3 years 7 months ago

Fielder had the same problem – no big money suitors who didn’t have 1B already locked up.  Even Detroit had a first baseman locked up, and they are the ones who signed him.

Didn’t affect Fielder, and it shouldn’t affect Votto either.

jhfdssdaf
3 years 7 months ago

I seriously doubt Ortiz will still be DH’ing in Boston after 2013, so they’ll have flexibility.  Angels may have flexibility.  Texas’s TV deal starts soon after that, so they could potentially spend money.  The Yankees don’t have a DH this year, so I can’t guarantee they’ll have one in two years.  The Mets may have their financial issues ironed out by then.

Votto will likely be the best free agent on the market.  Someone found the money for Fielder.  Votto is better than Fielder.  Votto in two years will likely be a better bet than Fielder now.  Someone will find the money.

Patrick Beliveau
3 years 7 months ago

Boston wont be paying A-Gon or Votto 20mil + to DH.. so they’re out… the Angels didnt sign Pujols to a 10 year deal to have him DH’ing in 3 years and they wont sign Votto to 20mil + to do it either… they’re out… Yankees need the DH for an aging A-Rod, he’ll be there soon enough… and they still have Teix… so they’re out… the Mets have Ike Davis, while no Joey Votto, he’s young, and solid… and fits into the rebuilding plan better than a 30 year old expensive first baseman… they’re out…  

Jays, Nats and Dodgers (depending on the new owner and his/her willingness to spend big) are the only serious suitors i see in 2 years… 

jb226
3 years 7 months ago

You’re taking the Mets out because of Ike Davis?   Seriously?  I’d definitely add them back, especially if they iron out their issues.  They’re going to want to come back into contention swinging, and Ike Davis is certainly not the kind of guy who blocks Joey Votto.

I’d call the Marlins an outside shot.  They were interested in Pujols so they’re not against spending the money, but who knows if that changes in two years.  They also have a thing for latin players, so maybe the interest isn’t there for Votto.

Seattle needs offense and will have money freeing up over the next two years.  Maybe Smoak turns into a stud by then, but right now he’s nothing you refuse to sign a superstar over.  Same deal with the Rangers and Moreland.  That depends more on how re-signing players like Kinsler, Cruz and Hamilton goes.  If they let Hamilton walk, I could see them instantly becoming serious suitors.  

The White Sox will be done with Konerko’s contract by then if they wanted to move in another direction.  Rockies don’t have a ton committed by 2014 and Helton would be gone.

I guess what I’m getting at is that for a player of Votto’s caliber, there aren’t a lot of teams we can completely count out.  I would be shocked if there was less than a half dozen teams seriously interested when everything shakes out.  Some of it clearly depends on how young players develop; some of it clearly depends on how teams choose to spend their free money leading up to a potential Votto free agency; some of it depends on how potential extensions turn out.  There are just very few teams I think can be completed counted out.

Even if you were right and only the Nats, Jays and Dodgers were in play, the man is still going to get paid and paid big.  All three of those teams are capable of throwing big dollars around, and that’s what it will take.

East Coast Bias
3 years 7 months ago

whoa that AL MVP is going to be a ridiculous race! Cano, Bautista, AGon, Fielder, Pujols, Cabrera, etc. etc.

and Verlander 

jhfdssdaf
3 years 7 months ago

So do Milwaukee and St. Louis, but I agree with you anyway.  Reds are in win-now mode, not rebuilding.  You can’t do both.

If they’re 10 games back at the trading deadline, there will be plenty of opportunity to raid someone’s farm system then.  No reason to do so before.

MVP2010
3 years 7 months ago

Do you really think Milwaukee has enough this year? Considering, they lose Braun for 50 games, and Fielder to FA. Brewers have a decent team, good pitching staff, above-infield, and decent bullpen. Although, I see them finishing no higher than 3rd. St. Louis is ageing, but if they can stay healthy they may be a team to watch out for.

TheMagicIsBack
3 years 7 months ago

Yes the mets will be out because of ike davis. Mark it down.