Olney On Votto, Cain, Hamels

Two National League stars signed massive extensions yesterday and Buster Olney discusses the two deals in his latest column at ESPN.com. Some highlights, starting with Joey Votto's $225MM deal:

  • “At some point this contract will be a drag on a team in a mid-market,” one talent evaluator told Olney. Another called the deal “nuts,” and a third said it’s “absolute insanity.” One supporter of the deal said letting Votto go would have crushed the franchise.
  • If the Giants hadn’t offered Matt Cain a record-setting deal, he would have obtained a nine-figure deal elsewhere. Olney suggests it’d be hard to find a more consistent pitcher than Cain.
  • Talks between the Phillies and Cole Hamels have been dormant in recent weeks, but could be rekindled at any time. Olney finds it hard to imagine that an offer worth markedly less than Cain’s $112.5MM deal would have much appeal to Hamels and agent John Boggs. Ruben Amaro Jr. recently said the Phillies can afford three $20MM starters.

61 Responses to Olney On Votto, Cain, Hamels Leave a Reply

  1. Votto’s deal is fine in AAV but way too many years.

    • BMiggy 3 years ago

      Depends, his age is a concern.

      Guess the real answer will come in 10 years, after Steroid and HGH testing has some history.

      I have a feeling beginning next year, we will see more injuries and less productivity for players 33+age.

      game is changing guys, its going to be a young mans game again.

      • LazerTown 3 years ago

        Agreed, I had the feeling that there is a lot less 35+ players than ten years ago

  2. vtadave 3 years ago

    As crazy as it sounds, I really think Hamels can get 8/200 on the open market.  The Cubs clear a ton of payroll off the books, the Dodgers will be big spenders, and maybe even Texas and Washington could get in the mix.

    • BMiggy 3 years ago

      Hamels has absolutely no reason to sign with the Phils before testing FA.

      Dodgers and Cubs want that splash.

      As crazy as it would have sounded just a few months ago, even the Mets after shedding more payroll and having their finances in order again could make a STUPID silly offer for him.

      What people don’t understand is that with the trial, Wilpons were unable to comingle personal funds, SNY funds with the team. With the dodgers sale price, Mets will refinance debt and look to invest in talent to refill that ballpark….

      I see Dodgers beating the Sabathia deal for both Hamels and a Kershaw extension.

    • Anything over 6 or 7 is silly. Look at all the other pitchers that have signed those deals: Hampton, Brown, Zito, Santana…all were awful deals. There are exceptions but a better deal is 5 for $100-$125. 

  3. BMiggy 3 years ago

    3 20million dollar pitchers? yes you can afford it.

    is it smart? NO, expecially since one or two of them are bound to decline or get injured.

    The game has changed, you need to develop your own pitchers now

    IMO they should have gave Hamels, Lee money and let Lee sign somewhere else.

    • Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

      I don’t really see it being a bad idea considering the talent level these three possess and the fact that Halladay is a bargain.

    • Assuming Halladay’s 2014 option vests, there would be three $20MM pitchers for just two years. If Halladay was to continue playing at the end of the contract (he’ll be 37), odds are he could be had back for less than $20MM/year. He’ll probably still be worth $20MM, but he’s the type that values a winning team over the biggest paycheck. That probably will become more and more true with his age.

      Anyway with the other salaries coming off the books (Victorino, Blanton, Polanco) the Phillies are a team that can afford to have three $20MM pitchers for two years. Guys like Galvis, Brown, Worley, Mayberry (hopefully he sticks) and all those young pitchers (Bastardo, Stutes, Herndon, DeFratus, Aumont, Savery, maybe Hyatt as a fifth starter) will keep salaries down at some key spots.

      And if you’re worried about decline/injury, Hamels is the one you want most. All three have been extremely healthy in recent years, but Hamels is the furthest from decline.

      • Michael Gardiner 3 years ago

         But they also have that $20M deal with Howard too. You are talking about in 2013 about $85-90M are going to 4 guys!. In 2014 that will shoot up to close to $95M. That is also without bonuses and such. That would be over 54% of the Phillies currently salary to just 4 guys even if it is for just 2 years. Pence will also get a boost in arbitration next year as will Herndon(if kept) and Bastardo. As of right now the Phillies currently have $113M tied up next year without any count for arbitration guys and those not quailfied for arbitration yet.

  4. Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

    I swear Buster’s said the exact same thing about the Phillies/Hamels negotiations for the last month.

    • But now that Cain got his money…it seems more than reasonable to see this as Hamels’ last season in Philly.

    • moondog45 3 years ago

       You are correct. How could anyone pay money for this inside info baloney?

  5. jwick18 3 years ago

    i may be wrong but i feel that as more big name players head to the A.L. for longer contracts having the dh to fall back on at the end of careers will make the N.L. owners fuss for the dh in the national league. so the end of vottos deal may not be to bad if that happens by then

    • I hate the DH rule and hope the AL gets rid of it.  First base isn’t that taxing on a body.

      • LazerTown 3 years ago

        I like it, too many pitchers are dead weight as starters, it also keeps some players that shouldn’t be on the field still playing.

    • petrie000 3 years ago

      the DH position is changing. It’s no longer just a place to drop an aging home run hitter, and a lot of clubs use it these days as a place to rest a player without losing his bat. Players that have no value outside the batters box won’t be able to find nearly as much work in coming years as they used to.

      This is also why the NL has no interest in adopting a position that’s more likely to be phased out in the near future than expanded.

      • jwick18 3 years ago

        the cardinals and brewers would beg to differ. even a player like mccann will more than likely be given a long contract from an a.l. team due to the fact that its becoming even more a place to put older stars at the end of their careers. besides arod this is really the first to see of these very long contracts. now the bar is set and players will be asking for 10 years as more of a norm than before

        • petrie000 3 years ago

          i have no idea why you picked those two teams. the Cardinals have nobody that fits your profile right now, and the Brewers… well, the Brewers are just overly dependent on offense (personal opinion).

          But even so that’s 2 of 15 teams in the NL. as compared to i’d say at least 6 teams in the AL who don’t even bother with a prototypical everyday DH.

          So yeah, i stand by my position that the owners, most of whom clearly are not so eager to hand out long term contract to one-dimensional sluggers (yes, i’m excepting Pujols from this… but even his defense isn’t going to last), The DH position is much more likely to go away than it is to be expanded.

          • jhfdssdaf 3 years ago

            You disagree that the Cardinals should be included, yet you give the very reason they should be?  The Cardinals may have been more willing the match the Angels offer (or at least come close enough) had they been able to DH Pujols in his later years.

          • petrie000 3 years ago

            a willingness to spend big money on the best player in baseball does not go hand in hand with the presumption they also have a desire to change the rules to justify the expense.

            Albert Pujols meant more to the Cardinals than any other individual player did to his team in all of baseball. The peripheral value of Albert Pujols in terms of keeping and possibly expanding the fan base would have well justified the money effectively wasted in his waning years as an actual player.

            To assume that just because the ownership knew this meant they were also planning to petition the league 5 years from now for a better spot to play him is assuming facts not in evidence.

          • stl_cards16 3 years ago

            The whole point is obviously over your head. If you don’t think it would make more sense for an AL team to offer more money to a guy that will be in his 40’s when his contract expires, I don’t think anyone here can help you.

          • petrie000 3 years ago

            how many teams in the AL have, so far, offered 10+, 200+ million deals? 2, the Yankees and Angels.

            How many National league teams have? 2, the Phillies for Howard and now the Reds for Votto.

            Clearly this is not a huge, huge issue since every AL club doesn’t have an aging, overpaid DH and every NL team isn’t losing their best hitters to the AL to play DH. The data also suggests most American league teams aren’t exactly eager to throw a large amount of money at players to be professional DH’s.

            Yeah, totally over my head…

            People have been saying the DH in the NL is evitable since the 60’s, and so far there’s never been enough interest by NL owners to even bring it up for serious discussion. This recent trend in over-valued contracts lends no credence to your point of view since statistically there’s nothing to say it’s favoring one league over the other.

            Facts are inconvenient things that way.

          • jwick18 3 years ago

            the two teams could not offer the money to go with the years that the a.l. could offer because they know when they are aging they will become everyday dh’s. i know the cards offered 9 yrs but had to offer less money because they could not hide him at the dh. contracts keep getting longer and longer and the a.l. can use that as a selling point. im with you i hope it goes away. i cant stand it. but now hitters can get ten year contracts. the angels and tigers will be in better shape at the end of them where the reds have to stick him out there on 1st everyday. i dont blame the reds for doing what they did after watching albert and prince leave for the a.l. and reading on here the jays would have more than likley given votto a ten year deal and towards the end stuck him at the dh position. adrian will be the same thing for the sox in a few. i see the list getting longer but i still hope your right.

          • petrie000 3 years ago

            if the Jays wouldn’t go 10 years on Fielder why do you honestly believe they’d go 10 on Votto? Or that any other team was prepared to go 10 on Votto? He’s a good player, but talent wise he’s closer to Howard and Fielder, and both of those deals are considered unwise already.

            If you wanna argue fairness and economics, eliminating the DH rule saves teams money AND levels the playing field.

          • You need to look at why those deals are considered unwise. Howard is older, Prince is fatter.

            Votto’s better than both players, accruing approximately the same amount of WAR in four years as opposed to 6 or 7 years. Howard’s given up five wins on defense and on the basepaths, Fielder 6.5 wins. Votto has been slightly above average in the field and slightly below average on the basepaths.

            Simply put, he’s more athletic and thus should hold up better as the years progress. Saying he’s the same player as Fielder or Howard is a gross mischaracterization.


          • Pawsdeep 3 years ago

            Agreed but Votto is 3 years older. Prince will still be posting decent WAR at the end of his deal and will be 36 when it expires. Votto will have 5-7 years and the downslope of the power hill and won’t be able to fall on the DH. Don’t get me wrong, the tigers overpaid prince, but his contract will look far better when its over vs. paying Votto 22 mil to be a 38-40 year old first basemen, or more likely a VERY expensive bench player.

            I’d still bet all the Internet money I got that prince ends up with a higher career WAR than Votto due to his age and service time, and that would solve the arguement of’which contract is worse’

    • schellis 3 years ago

      With the Astros moving to the ALW next year it will mean a increase of interleague games.   This means more DH games.  While the NL won’t have the number of DH games that the AL will, I think they will have more then enough to rest players.   However I do wish that baseball would pick one set of rules, and like it or not that set will be the DH unless you want to have no baseball for a few years.   The union won’t allow something that adds years to careers to go away.

      • LazerTown 3 years ago

        Agreed, it puts nl teams at a big disadvantage during interleague since the al usually has a big hitter in that slot.

        • schellis 3 years ago

           I don’t think that is the case any more, a lot of AL teams have taken to using that DH slot as a working day off for their older/injured players.  For every David Ortiz and Billy Butler their is whoever the A’s are running out there.  If anything more NL park games per year hurts the AL more because they are paying big dollars to guys that will spend a lot of games on the bench.

      • The number of interleague games is currently slated to remain the same rather than increase. They’re just going to space them out throughout the season.


  6. They couldn’t let him go, and they were foolish to pay him what he wanted from the team.  So, what were the Reds going to do; kidnap, imprison and force him to play for the rest of his career?

    • TophersReds 3 years ago

      And if Prince signed back with Milwakee I can almost gurantee that you wouldn’t be saying the same things you are about the Reds right now.

      • Actually, I’m glad they were smart enough to stay away from him.  Paying him 20+ million a year would kill Milwaukee; with Braun, Gallardo, Hart, Rickie, etc all due raises…and Greinke, Marcum, and soon to be Wolf all hitting free agency, we would be screwed.

      • timmytwoshoezzz 3 years ago

        Tophers, I don’t think Ike’s comment is a shot at the Redlegs.  He essentially pointing out that the Reds situation with Votto is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” sort of thing, and I agree with him.  As a Reds fan, I’m glad he’ll be with the team, even if his performance declines in the last 3-4 years of the contract.  Pay for excellence, avoid big contracts to marginal players.  Reds paid for excellence with Votto, and if they can avoid repeating an Arroyo type deal, they can compete with the payroll they have.

        • Exactly.  I was pointing out they were in a tough situation with him, just like the Brewers.  I’m glad the Reds were able to keep their guy though, and it couldn’t have happened to a greater guy.

          • TophersReds 3 years ago

            I had a different view on it first read through, my bad. Best of luck to the Brew Crew this year, by the way.

  7. All the ESPN so called experts are just sour that Votto didn’t go to FA and enter in a big market team. GET OVER IT. The Reds have a elite franchise player to build around for the next 10 years. Drafted in 2002, under contract till 2023, love it. Everyone calls the Reds a small market team, but our payroll is slowly growing and soon we will become a bigger market team, Jocketty knows what he is doing. Its great for baseball that a homegrown, drafted and developed player gets to stay with the same franchise his whole career, especially an elite player like Votto

    • Muggi 3 years ago

      I don’t think it’s a “sour” thing, I think it’s a “holy hell teams are signing guy ’til they’re 40, this is insanity” thing.

      Which, it is.

      • Jacob Phillips 3 years ago

        Is it a crazy deal? Yeah, sure it is. But you gotta believe ESPN isn’t happy about having to find something else to talk about next offseason. You know they love their “big name FA might think about considering a visit to (fill in the blank)” stories. 

    • notsureifsrs 3 years ago

       “Everyone calls the Reds a small market team, but our payroll is slowly growing and soon we will become a bigger market team”

      yep, that’s definitely how that works

    • portsider 3 years ago

      Exactly. Never fails — ESPN/Olney can’t accept that small market teams exist for any other purpose than to play second fiddle and sacrifice their best players to major markets.

      • petrie000 3 years ago

        the fact that ESPN has any bias towards big market teams other than for ratings purposes is frankly a fantasy, guys. Why would any serious analyst give a fiddler’s cuss about where Joey Votto plays? especially when him resigning with the Reds just means a more competitive divisional race in the NL Central? (which is good for baseball ratings, I. E. corporate profits)

        Olney’s just tell the truth : a 10-year deal for any player IS insane. Expecting a 40-year old player to justify a 20-million a year contract is a dubious proposition at best. Especially when they easily could have signed him for less years now and just enxtended him again before that contract was up. 

        • TophersReds 3 years ago

          “Especially when they easily could have signed him for less years now and just enxtended him again before that contract was up.”

          And your source is…

          • petrie000 3 years ago

            Reds go to Votto and offer 6 years, 23 million per…. he turns them down because…..?

          • TophersReds 3 years ago

            He knows he can get 10 years on the FA market after the Pujols/Filder deals and wants to finish his career with the Reds where media is easy….?

          • petrie000 3 years ago

            I doubt many professional players dream about spending their whole careers in ‘easy’ (meaning ambivalent) media markets.

  8. hitttman 3 years ago

    I think it’s great that the Reds locked down one of the best hitters in MLB. The idea of a ‘Big Fish in a Small Pond’ is a great selling point.  Maybe other similar market teams will catch on and lock up other ‘PROVEN’ players (not discounting what the Rays are doing by speculation).

  9. Muggi 3 years ago

    The scary thing is as bad as the Ryan Howard contract is, the Phillies will be out of it by the time Howard is 36. Angels and Reds locked in until their 1B’s are 40ish.

    Votto and Albert are far superior players, of course, but long-term the Howard deal may hamstring the team less than these could.

  10. I don’t like the length of Votto’s contract at all – even Prince Fielder’s contract runs out at age 36, while Votto’s contract goes to 40—and Votto is in the National League, whereas Fielder could go to DH in the final year or two of his deal.

    Matt Cain’s contract is reasonable to me as he will get 1 more deal after this one; what it means for Lincecum remains to be seen. However, Cain’s deal (well deserved) may mean that Hamels is gone from Philly after this season.

  11. schellis 3 years ago

     If Votto were to have signed a 6-8 year deal that would have put him as a FA at 36-38, as we’ve seen this off-season players that age that are fringe defensive players/DH types have had extreme difficulty getting work.  Why would you give up your chance at FA dollars, in two years with two more elite years Votto could have been looking at record breaking deal, only to become one in your late 30’s when you still want to play, but have a very short list of suitors that want to pay you very little dollars. (relatively of course)

    If the Reds let Votto get to free agency his price could have jumped 5 million a year and he likely would have gotten 7-9 years, likely the higher end since unlike Fielder Votto is a good defensive 1B and doesn’t have a buffet style body type.

    The dollar amount of this fake contract would likely be close to the 10 year deal he has signed with the Reds.  Especially if you consider after a long career with the club the Reds would likely be open to bringing him back if was still productive, say like Jim Thome.

  12. Paul Shailor 3 years ago

    That sure is a lot of money. However I think it is below market value. Just think about it, Prince got 9/216 and isnt as good of a player. In 2 years the Dodgers, Marlins, Nationals(maybe), Cubs(maybe) would all have been willing to pay 10/225 for him. I think if he plays how he is supposed to these next 2 years it will be a good deal for the team. Yea he will break down when he turns 36 but it wont be an overnight catastrophe. He will probably slowly decline and sitll be productive. I like the deal, plus I like players signing with mid/small markets because hopefully that means the teams are going to increase their payroll. Votto is a guy you can build around for the next decade.

    • Yankees420 3 years ago

      There’s no way Votto’s deal is below market value, it’s the 3rd largest contract in history.  And while Fielder is the inferior player, his deal starts this year, in his age 28 season, while Votto’s 10 year deal starts 2 years from now, in his age 30/31 season. 

  13. Jacob Phillips 3 years ago

    Not the best contract in the world from Cincinnati’s standpoint, but think about this. Contracts are only going to get bigger. What’s $20 million going to be in 10 years? 10 years ago people thought the $200 million A-Rod contract was odd…now it’s almost considered normal. 10 years from now, $20 million may be the new $10 million. And if Walt and Co. can keep a contender on the field, the attendance will go up, leading to a higher budget, at least on paper. 

  14. schellis 3 years ago

    Bruce is signed already till 2016 with a team option for 2017.  So it will be his turn to get “paid” in 2018

  15. LazerTown 3 years ago

    I think hamels goes to Boston or Washington. The Yankees may go after him depending upon how all of their young stArters do this year. Dodgers could also be in the mix. Cubs are to far away from contention because there is no need to sign him and waste his best years. Wait 3years til you can contend and then sign someone then.

  16. Please go to the Dodgers…Hamels was great in 2008. But has been absolutely lit up in the playoffs after that. Pretty sure he has lost 3 of his last 4 postseason starts. And who can forget the 4 HR schlacking he got against the Dodgers. 

  17. schellis 3 years ago

    Sorry wasn’t meant to be a sarcastic answer, though I shouldn’t have quoted paid then.   Bruce has already been paid, but since he came up younger will have a second big pay day to look forward to, and that is the one I don’t think the Reds will be able to meet.

  18. HT16 3 years ago

    The Montreal Canadiens are signing baseball players now?

  19. moondog45 3 years ago

     Hamels has pitched well in the post season. Won against STL last year shut out Cincy the year before. I seem to remember Billingsley and Kershaw getting shellacked by Philly in the playoffs. The ball Stairs hit is still rolling in the foothills.

  20. Yankees420 3 years ago

    They really wanted Fielder to be their goalie. 

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