The bands in Cincinnati's opening day parade just got a little bit louder.
And the beers that hoisted by Reds fans as they march by?
Well, they also just got a little bit colder on Monday afternoon.
Saving some of the offseason's biggest news for its final hours, Joey Votto and Cincinnati Reds came to terms on a 10-year, $225 million contract extension that will keep the All-Star first baseman in the only uniform he's ever known. The surprise news was first reported by MLB Trade Rumors during lunch time with the staggering financial numbers later uncovered by Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The deal won't start until Votto completes the two years and $38 million that remains on his current contract, which means he's guaranteed $250 million of paychecks over the next dozen years. He'll be 38 years old when the contract finally expires.
Hoo boy, is that reason for a slow and long whistle or what? Not only is this big news for Votto's bank account and the Reds fans who were afraid the 2010 NL MVP would walk when his contract was done after next season, it's a story with a league-wide impact.
With that in mind, here are a few quick thoughts on Votto's extension:
• It's clear that the Reds knew what they were up against. Handing out 225 million big ones puts Cincinnati in the precarious payroll positions that Minnesota and Colorado entered when they locked down Joe Mauer and Troy Tulowitzki as franchise cornerstones. But it's also somewhat a bargain after an offseason that saw fellow first baseman Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder command even more money on the open market. If Votto had reached free agency after the 2013 season, he would have had no shortage of suitors and the Reds could have been bid straight out of the market, crazy as that may seem. It's been no secret that Blue Jays fans have long coveted the Toronto native's return while the Cubs and Dodgers' new front offices could have been ready to open their wallets for Votto's type of talent. It came at a huge price for a market their size, but the Reds just crushed a lot of dreams in the revenue scale above them.
• Seriously, if you know a Blue Jays fan, swallow the international charges and give him or her a call. Just to make sure they're still breathing.
• Same thing for anyone who knows Brandon Phillips. While an extension for the Reds' second baseman once seemed more likely than securing Votto for life, it seems safe to assume that Reds ownership won't have enough money to keep Phillips after he becomes a free agent following the 2012 season.
• That is, unless Reds owner Bob Castellini is one of the three Mega Millions winners who still haven't come forward.
• As their contract situations currently stand, the headlines for the free agent class of 2014 now belong to Tim Lincecum, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Wright. Guessing they were just a bit excited to hear about today's deal.
• Votto's contract allows him to join Alex Rodriguez, Fielder and Pujols as the only ballplayers to pass the $200 million mark. Considering that three of those deals were signed in the past few months, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe is right in noting that the Red Sox got a bargain when they signed Adrian Gonzalez to a seven-year, $145 million deal last offseason.
• Ryan Howard's five-year, $125 million deal is still LOLworthy, though.
•Votti is a player who's never relished being in the spotlight and he's obviously very comfortable playing in a smaller market like Cincinnati. While it's weird to congratulate a player who may have settled for *only* $225 million, I'll offer up a "cheers" to Votto for making the decision that was right for him. That said, a 10-year deal sets the bar for him to be the Pete Rose-type icon of his generation in the Queen City. That comes with a unique pressure of its own.
- Joey Votto
- Cincinnati Reds