Joey Votto Rumors
Perhaps no player in the game brings as much focus and preparation to his at-bats as Joey Votto, ESPN's Buster Olney details in this must-read profile of the Reds first baseman (Insider subscription required). "It's all about reframing the challenge," Votto said. "I've
stopped caring about runs and RBIs. I care more about how high a
percentage of productive at-bats I can have, how consistently tough and
competitive I can be for the opposing pitcher. That's my goal every
single time I go up there."
Here's the latest from around the NL Central...
- A swap of Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar for Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras "has not been discussed," one of the involved GMs tells Peter Gammons of the MLB Network (Twitter link). Needless to say, such a deal would be a blockbuster; Profar and Taveras rank first and third, respectively, on Baseball America's preseason ranking of the sport's 100 best prospects. Gammons wonders if Profar-for-Taveras would be on the table "if [Scott] Boras didn't represent [Elvis] Andrus," thus making it uncertain if Andrus would sign an extension to remain in Texas.
- Few teams would benefit from signing Kyle Lohse as much as the Brewers, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel opines. The Brewers have been adamant about going with younger pitchers and not spending big on veteran starters, but Haudricourt wonders if Lohse could be an option given how some of Milwaukee's current rotation members have struggled during Spring Training.
- Mark Rogers, one of those struggling pitchers, is out of options and the Brewers are looking at several different ways to avoid losing him on waivers, Haudricourt writes.
- Jose Tabata needs to produce to remain with the Pirates, as Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette outlines how Tabata is out of options and, if he doesn't make the roster, could be a good trade chip due to his team-friendly contract. Click here for a full list of every player who is out of options this spring.
- From earlier today, the Cardinals released Ronny Cedeno and we heard the Tigers weren't interested in Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol.
It’s no secret that Reds GM Walt Jocketty intends to upgrade the Cincinnati outfield this offseason. Jocketty addressed his search for outfield help and other Reds-related questions in a conversation with MLBTR at the GM Meetings in Indian Wells, California. Here are the details.
- Jocketty said the Reds hope to re-sign Ryan Ludwick this winter. “We’ve made some progress, but it’ll probably take another week or two before we know where we’re at,” the GM said. “
- Ideally the Reds would like to add a leadoff hitter. Whether the newcomer plays center or left field has yet to be determined.
- The Reds view Aroldis Chapman as a starting pitcher long-term and they could make him a starter in 2013 if they acquire a free agent reliever. “If we re-sign Ryan Madson or [Jonathan] Broxton or someone else it would allow us to move Chapman to the rotation,” Jocketty said. Pitching coach Bryan Price feels strongly that Chapman can become a top of the rotation starter.
- Signing Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips in the spring helped the Reds focus on other needs this offseason, the GM said. “That was important for us to do, for sure.”
Every year a few players join baseball’s exclusive $100MM club with free agent deals and mega-extensions. Last offseason was no different -- eight players signed nine figure deals. The contracts were all for five years or more, so it’s far too early to call them successes or failures. As the season approaches its halfway point, let’s check in on baseball’s newest $100MM contracts:
- Albert Pujols, ten-year, $240MM contract - Pujols had a painfully slow start, but he has raised his batting line to a respectable .270/.332/.461. His last 40 games have been legitimately Pujols-like: 11 home runs and an OPS over 1.000.
- Joey Votto, ten-year, $225MM extension - It's impossible to have a complete discussion about baseball's best hitters without considering Votto. The 28-year-old leads the National League in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walks, doubles and wOBA, so this deal couldn't be going any better for the Reds.
- Prince Fielder, nine-year, $214MM contract - Fielder continues to hit at an All-Star level, though he has a relatively modest total of 12 home runs. Unfortunately for Tigers fans Mike Ilitch's bold investment hasn't been enough to keep the team above .500.
- Matt Kemp, eight-year, $160MM extension - Hamstring issues have sidelined Kemp, who was the best hitter in the National League for the first month of the season.
- C.C. Sabathia, five-year, $122MM extension - Sabathia, now on the disabled list with a strained groin, is in the midst of yet another tremendous season. He has a 3.45 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 107 innings.
- Matt Cain, five-year, $112.5MM extension - Cain's enjoying his best season as a Major Leaguer. He has a career-best ERA (2.27), strikeout rate (9.0 K/9) and walk rate (1.9 BB/9) through 107 innings. The Giants' decision to invest in Cain still looks like a good one.
- Jose Reyes, six-year, $106MM extension - Reyes' offensive numbers have dropped off across the board this year, no thanks to a 60 point dip in batting average on balls in play.
- Ryan Zimmerman, six-year, $100MM extension - Zimmerman's off to a slow start at the plate despite two home runs in his past three games. He missed two weeks with shoulder soreness earlier in the year and has just a .235/.297/.350 batting line.
On this day in 1970, the Cardinals sent first baseman/outfielder Willie Montanez to the Phillies as part of a compensation package for Curt Flood refusing to report to Philadelphia when he was dealt in October of 1969. Flood's story is now part of baseball lore but Montanez would go on to have a solid career of his own. Montanez played 14 years in the majors and hit .275/.327/.402 for his career. Here's a look at tonight's links..
- Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) writes that in order for Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke to restore his value, the hurler has to to alter the perception that he can be a troublesome clubhouse presence. Olney writes that there are already some teams who won't consider him because of the reputation he earned in Kansas city.
- The Astros were able to land outfielder Justin Maxwell off of waivers from the Yankees earlier today thanks to their top position on the waiver wire. Houston GM Jeff Luhnow says that while he hopes to win more games, he plans on taking advantage of their wire position, writes MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.
- Locking up Joey Votto doesn't come cheap but the Reds made the right move when they made him a $200MM man, opines B.J. Bethel of the Dayton Daily News. The Reds, he writes, have not produced a bona fide superstar since the days of Barry Larkin and Eric Davis.
- Jay Paris of the North County Times thinks that Padres owner John Moores needs to do more to endear himself to fans if he hopes to keep the club's attendance numbers up.
A few items of note to share out of the Queen City ...
- The Reds funded Joey Votto's big contract extension with the $25MM per year they've received in revenue sharing over the past 10 years, writes Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. We've heard whispers previously that the Reds had drawn upon shared revenues to lock up Votto, though this seems to be the first mention of such a specific sum.
- GM Walt Jocketty said there's no updates on a potential contract extension for second baseman Brandon Phillips, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Jocketty, however, remains optimistic that a deal will get done within the next week or so, Fay adds. In case you missed it earlier this week, the Reds reportedly offered Phillips five years and $60MM, with a sixth year apparently being a stumbling block in negotiations.
- Reds owner Bob Castellini reiterated that Votto's extension won't interfere with the team's ability to extend Phillips or manager Dusty Baker, according to Joe Kay of the Associated Press. "It has no bearing on our conversations with Brandon Phillips and, hopefully, our conversations with Dusty as we go forward," Castellini said. Baker is in the final year of a two-year extension he inked after the 2010 campaign. This season marks his fifth on the Reds' bench.
It’s been a big week for extensions, as Joey Votto and Matt Cain signed historic contracts on Monday. Here are some extension updates from around the league, starting with a couple additional notes on Votto’s deal.
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer has the annual breakdown of Votto's deal (Twitter links). He'll earn $12MM in 2014, $14MM in 2015, $20MM in 2016, $22MM in 2017, and $25MM during each of the final six years. The club option for 2024 is worth $20MM with a $7MM buyout.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has a breakdown of Jonathon Niese's new extension with the Mets (on Twitter). The southpaw gets a $250K signing bonus with annual salaries of $769.5K, $3MM, $5MM, $7MM, and $9MM. The two club options ($10MM and $11MM) can each be bought out for $500K.
- Reds president and CEO Bob Castellini was the one driving the Votto deal, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. Other ownership groups have some concern over the ten-year deal, Crasnick adds.
- The Rangers are discussing a long-term deal with Ian Kinsler, and while the sides are in agreement on the contract length -- six years -- they haven’t yet found common ground in terms of contract value, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Kinsler doesn’t want to negotiate after the season begins on Friday.
- Casey Close, the agent for Zack Greinke, and Brewers GM Doug Melvin will speak tomorrow to “fill each other in on where discussions stand,” the GM told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. Greinke had been representing himself, but his new agent will handle talks from here on.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
We're less than 24 hours away from the first official game at Marlins Park, as the Fish show off their new ballpark in their season opener against the World Series champion Cardinals. Here are some news bits to tide us over in the meantime...
- The Giants' extension with Matt Cain is "a sound deal," several non-San Francisco team executives tell ESPN's Buster Olney (via Twitter).
- Roy Oswalt will likely need around 60 days of preparation time to be ready to pitch, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). This fits with Oswalt's previous statement about looking at a midseason return.
- Royals closer Joakim Soria underwent Tommy John surgery today and the medical team "couldn't have been more pleased" with the procedure, a club source tells MLB.com's Dick Kaegel. Soria will miss the entire 2012 season recovering from the surgery.
- Joey Votto's 10-year, $225MM extension with the Reds is "one of the crazier seeming contracts in baseball history," writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman talks to several anonymous team executives about the contract, with theories ranging from the Reds being worried about the Dodgers' aggressive new ownership to the Reds being able to afford Votto thanks to several years of collecting luxury tax payments. Then again, one competing GM says simply, "The Reds look like they have no plan."
- Attorneys for Major League Baseball made a court filing arguing that the Dodgers shouldn't be allowed to emerge from bankruptcy until the team pays back $8.3MM worth of bills from the league, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
- Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at how some recent big contracts around baseball could impact the Cardinals. Miklasz thinks that Cain's deal will make Adam Wainwright's next contract even more expensive, but I don't agree, given that Wainwright is three years older and has a more checkered injury history.
- Several Padres players, as well as several players from the entire NL West and AL West, are discussed by opposing scouts in a chat with Tom Krasovic of Inside The Padres.
- Votto has full no-trade protection for the 10 years of his extension, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) notes that the no-trade clause also covers the final two years of Votto's existing contract (covering 2012-13).
- Votto's deal is "slightly backloaded," a source tells ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link) but doesn't included any deferred money.
- The Reds think they still have a chance to reach an extension with Brandon Phillips, tweets Jerry Crasnick. We heard yesterday that it was looking unlikely that Phillips and Reds would work out a new deal before the season begins.
- It's telling that Votto and the Reds seemed to work out an major extension "in a matter of weeks" while Phillips and the club haven't been able to make much progress after a year of contract talks, writes Ken Rosenthal. A team insider tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that while the Reds like their second baseman, "Phillips isn’t going to compete for the MVP every year. Votto is."
- Also from Fay's link, he notes the differences between Votto's deal and Ken Griffey Jr.'s nine-year, $112MM deal with the Reds from 2000. Fay feels the Reds believe they'll get a new local cable TV deal before their current agreement expires in 2016, and that the Reds' revenue streams from MLB's national TV contract and new media sources will also increase, thus allowing the team to push the payroll to around the $100MM mark.
- Ken Rosenthal wonders if Castellini pushed Votto's deal though, a la Tigers owner Mike Illitch becoming involved in his team signing Prince Fielder. Rosenthal also thinks Votto's extension could eventually become an albatross for the small-market Reds.
- Cincinnati's smaller-market status, however, played a role in Votto's desire to stay in town. The first baseman told John Fay (Twitter link) that "I'm about to sign a huge deal, John, and you're the only media I have [to] answer to."
- In case you missed it earlier today, the Reds claimed Alfredo Simon off waivers from the Orioles.
- “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.
Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols won't be the only first basemen to cash in with historic contracts this offseason. Joey Votto and the Reds have agreed to a ten-year, $225MM contract extension according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The deal includes full no-trade protection. Dan Lozano of Icon Sports Group represents Votto.
The ten-year deal will keep Votto in Cincinnati through 2023 according to Nightengale, indicating that it's ten years on top of the two years left on his current deal. Votto signed a three-year, $38MM extension prior to last season. With this new deal, he is now under contract for the next 12 years at a total price of $251.5MM.
This is the fifth deal in MLB history to surpass the $200MM mark. Prince Fielder, Alex Rodriguez (twice), Albert Pujols, and now Votto make up the select group. This is also the largest contract ever signed by a non-free agent, surpassing Derek Jeter's ten-year, $189MM deal with the Yankees. Ben Nicholson-Smith suggested in January that an additional $161MM could be enough to keep Votto in place long-term. Though not directly related, the Dodgers' sale price of $2.15 billion can't have hurt Votto's leverage.
Votto, the 2010 NL MVP, has evolved into one of the game's elite players since debuting in 2007. He followed up his MVP season with a .309/.416/.531 line, 29 homers and 40 doubles. The 28-year-old has been a seven win player each of the past two seasons, according to FanGraphs' version of wins above replacement.
MLBTR's Tim Dierkes and Ben Nicholson-Smith first reported that the two sides were nearing an agreement. John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports all added details (all four Twitter links).
Photo courtesy of US Presswire.