Joey Votto Rumors

Reds Notes: Votto, Phillips, Madson

Joey Votto’s under contract for two more seasons, but recent deals for Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols show it won’t be easy to keep the first baseman in Cincinnati beyond 2013. Earlier today I suggested it could cost upwards of $160MM in additional commitments to keep Votto in a Reds uniform through 2020. Here’s the latest on the Reds, starting with Votto…

  • Reds CEO Bob Castellini believes the team could initiate extension talks with Votto this year, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. "I think Walt has been in pursuit of that for a while," Castellini said. "It's something we know is a big challenge for us. It's certainly is desirable."
  • Brandon Phillips says he’s going to leave discussions about an extension up to his agent, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I'm not tripping about it,” the second baseman said. 
  • The MLB Players’ Association values Ryan Madson’s contract with the Reds at $8.25MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. One third of Madson’s $6MM salary is deferred without interest in 2012, Rosenthal writes. The deal includes an $11MM mutual option for 2013 with a $2.5MM buyout.

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.


Rosenthal On Votto, Alonso, Rangers, Soriano

The Reds’ owners continue engaging in friendly debate with one another about Joey Votto’s future with the team, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Here are the details on the Reds’ first base situation and more of Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB…

  • Cincinnati CEO Bob Castellini doesn’t want to trade Votto and appears to believe an extension is possible. However, some Reds owners believe the team should explore trades for the 2010 NL MVP. Votto is under contract through 2013.
  • Rival GMs consider Yonder Alonso a one-dimensional player, not someone who could be a centerpiece in a trade for a starting pitcher like James Shields or Gio Gonzalez.
  • The Rangers are considering assistant GM Thad Levine and former Astros GM Tim Purpura for their open farm director position, according to Rosenthal. 
  • Teams are “kicking the tires” on Alfonso Soriano and the Cubs are willing to pick up a substantial chunk of the $54MM remaining on the 35-year-old left fielder's contract. He posted a .244/.289/.469 line with 26 home runs last season and is under contract through 2014.
  • Teams are calling the Rangers about right-hander Koji Uehara, but Texas may hold on to him, since they’re short on left-handed relief and Uehara is effective against left-handed hitters.
  • The A’s won’t attempt to re-sign Josh Willingham, but they’re interested in re-signing another one of their free agent outfielders: Coco Crisp.


Reds Will Not Trade Votto This Winter

Despite rumblings that reigning NL MVP Joey Votto could be available this offseason, Reds GM Walt Jocketty says the team will hold on to the first baseman, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (via Twitter). Jocketty indicated that the Reds will try to lock Votto up to a long-term deal within the next year. Here are a few other items of note from Heyman's Twitter feed:

  • The Reds are among the teams who have contacted the Braves to inquire on Jair Jurrjens.
  • GM John Mozeliak said the Cardinals haven't met face-to-face with Albert Pujols since the season ended, but that they've touched base with Pujols and his agent, and plan to meet.
  • The Mets think Jose Reyes will give them a chance to match his best offer before he signs anywhere, but know that he's not obligated to do so.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says if he were to pursue an impact first baseman like Pujols or Prince Fielder, he'd need to make a companion move to open up the position.
  • The White Sox aren't closing the door on Mark Buehrle, but GM Ken Williams feels it'll be tough to fit him into their payroll.

AL East Notes: Votto, Price, Garcia, Yankees, Red Sox

Here's a look at some news out of the AL East..

  • The Rays are concentrating on upgrading at first base, DH, and landing two relievers, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  They want to hang on to their pitching depth, but that would change if Joey Votto of the Reds became available. 
  • More from Sherman (via Twitter) on the Rays as he writes that the club is always open to anything, but have it in their budget to keep David Price at $4-$4.5MM as a Super Two.  Price could earn $7-8MM in 2012 through arbitration according to MLBTR's projections.  Sherman adds that it would take a gigantic return for them to move him.
  • As expected, the Yankees intend to follow up with Freddy Garcia’s agents once more, a person with knowledge of the situation, told Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger.  Yankees GM Brian Cashman has already talked with Garcia’s representatives, even before the right-hander was a free agent.
  • Dale Sveum is interviewing again Wednesday with the Red Sox and GM Ben Cherington is unsure if they will bring back anyone else for an interview, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
  • Talks between the Red Sox and Cubs over compensation for Theo Epstein will continue this week but Commissioner Bud Selig is likely to settle matter, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets. Cherington says that Selig hashing things out is probably what's best for both parties.

NL Central Notes: Cardinals, Samardzija, Votto

Tony La Russa's retirement has highlighted a busy day in the NL Central. Here are the latest notes from the division…

  • Former Cardinals infielder David Eckstein told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that Albert Pujols would re-sign in St. Louis if the Cards make third base coach Jose Oquendo their next manager.
  • Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan told Morosi that he’s going to return to St. Louis in 2012, but it doesn’t sound as though he’s looking to manage the team (Twitter link).
  • The Cubs declined Jeff Samardzija's $3MM option for 2012, according to Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (Twitter link). Samardzija isn't yet arbitration eligible and remains under team control.
  • One person with ties to the Reds says there's "not a chance" Joey Votto becomes available this offseason, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. The Reds control the first baseman's rights through 2013.

Central Links: Tigers, Avila, Votto, Epstein

The Rangers and Tigers are playing Game Six of the ALCS tonight, and Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News looks at how the 1999 trade that sent Juan Gonzalez from Texas to Detroit is still helping the Rangers today. Here are some links from baseball's two central divisions…

  • Regardless of how the rest of their season plays out, David Mayo of The Grand Rapids Press says the Tigers won't have many issues to address this winter. Second base and a left-handed starter figure to top their shopping list, and $23MM is coming off the books in the form of Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen.
  • Tigers assistant GM Al Avila has been mentioned as a GM candidate around the league, but ESPN's Jerry Crasnick says it's probably a long shot (all four Twitter links). "I'm very happy here,'' said Avila, who recently signed a four-year extension. "I have a great relationship with the ownership, and I've worked for [Dave Dombrowski] for 20 years.'' Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com says Avila's new contract prohibits him from interviewing for a GM job (on Twitter).
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Reds don't have to rush into a trade involving Joey Votto. They can wait until free agents Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols sign, which will give them an idea of what an extension for Votto would cost. It would also shed some light on potential trade suitors. GM Walt Jocketty recently shot down all the trade talk, however.
  • While we wait for the Cubs and Red Sox to agree on compensation for Theo Epstein, Gordon Wittenmyer of The Chicago Sun Times says the GM will have a much tougher time turning the Cubs around than he did Boston nine years ago.

AL East Links: Red Sox, Jays, Yanks, Sabathia, O’s

Some links from the only division with three 90-win teams in 2011…

  • WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports that the Red Sox will not interview anyone for their managerial opening until the status of GM Theo Epstein is resolved. The Cubs have asked permission to talk to Epstein about their GM vacancy.
  • SI.com's Jon Heyman reports (on Twitter) that teams are showing trade interest in Joey Votto, and "speculation around the game" is that the Blue Jays will be in the mix. Earlier tonight we heard that the Reds have not discussed trading Votto, however.
  • Unsurprisingly, the Yankees are looking for starting pitching and left-handed relievers, tweets Heyman. Our free agent list shows a number of attractive lefty relief options.
  • Amber Sabathia, wife of Yankees ace CC Sabathia, told Ken Davidoff of Newsday that her family is "definitely invested" in New York and that she considers it to be their home. Sabathia can choose to opt-out of his seven-year, $161MM deal this winter.
  • MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli looks both back and ahead with regards to the Orioles front office. President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail is stepping down when his contract expires at the end of the month.

Jocketty: We Haven’t Talked About Trading Votto

A few days ago we heard the Reds were willing to listen to offers for first baseman Joey Votto, though they weren't actively shopping him. GM Walt Jocketty shot that down today, telling MLB.com's Mark Sheldon

"We haven’t talked about it. I wish that people would stop writing it," said Jocketty. "Why would we trade one of the best players in the game? We’re trying to win."

Votto, 28, just completed the first year of a three-year, $38MM deal that bought out all three years of his arbitration-eligibility. He will earn $9.5MM next season then $17MM in 2013 before becoming a free agent. A trade now would bring greater return since the acquiring team will get him for two full years rather than one or even less.

The reigning NL MVP hit .309/.416/.531 with 29 homers this year, numbers that are actually down across the board compared to 2010. Miguel Cabrera had two years of team control left when the Marlins dealt him to the Tigers, though it's not a perfect comparison because of the Dontrelle Willis factor. Adrian Gonzalez returned three good prospects (and a role player) with just one year of control left. Either way, Votto would represent a viable trade alternative to a team fearful of handing a long-term contract to Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder.


Quick Hits: Votto, Anderson, Red Sox, Dodgers

Links for Sunday evening as the Brewers have jumped out to a 1-0 lead over the Cardinals in the NLCS..

  • The Reds need to ask themselves if they believe that they can pay Joey Votto a market-value contract after 2013, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com.  If the Reds don't believe that they can pay him, Olney writes that history says that they should move him between now and July 31, 2012.
  • The Red Sox could use Lars Anderson as a trade chip this offseason, writes Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal.  The 24-year-old first baseman is stuck behind Adrian Gonzalez and MacPherson identifies several teams who would be interested in the youngster.  Anderson was nearly shipped to the Athletics in a deal for Rich Harden in July.
  • Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times doesn't expect to see the Dodgers make many changes this winter.  If Ned Colletti & Co. don't sign a bopper in free agency, that leaves trading for a big bat and the club doesn't have much to offer in return.
  • Tigers closer Jose Valverde represents yet another ex-Astros player achieving success elsewhere, writes Stephen Goff of Examiner.com
  • Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum sees a bright future for his former teammate, Cardinals lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski.  Marcum, who will start Game 2 of the NLCS on Monday, played with Rzepczynski in Toronto.