April 5, 2012 by Matt Musico
There is no doubt that the news of Reds first baseman Joey Votto agreeing to a 10-year/$225 million extension is music to the ears of Cincinnati fans. Even though Votto wasn’t going to be a free agent until after the 2013 season (he’s due $9.5 million this year and $17 million next year), Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty felt the need to lock up the 2010 NL MVP and 2011 Gold Glove award winner. Once this deal is officially announced by the organization, it will the third contract worth more than $200 million since the end of last season. With the deals that Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder signed, they had to do it through the free agent market, whereas Votto didn’t have to go anywhere.
This is a great move for Cincinnati because they have a great nucleus on paper for 2012 and want to keep this nucleus together for the years ahead. For teams outside of the major markets (New York, Boston, etc.) it’s not so much about the “win right now” philosophy, but more of a focus on being competitive for a number of years. It is in the best interest of the organization to lock up a player like Votto for the long-term before he hits the open market because if he has two more great years, maybe his asking price would exceed what the Reds were willing to do. If the details of this extension are true, it is the richest one in franchise history and also includes a full no-trade clause.
The biggest problem from this agreement is the extension negotiations going on currently between the Reds and All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips. One would think that Phillips would be on the top of Jocketty’s to-do list since the second baseman is set to hit free agency after this season, but apparently not. The two sides are reportedly still far apart as the regular season opener Thursday against the Miami Marlins looms. There has been no word that Phillips would be willing to negotiate during the season or not, but I’m sure he would prefer not to. If he was a true priority for the organization, they would have made sure that they reached an agreement with him first before locking up Votto, since his free agency is on the horizon. In all honesty, the front office could have pushed the Votto deal until next winter if mid-season negotiating wasn’t possible.
There is no doubt that Joey Votto deserved this type of deal; if he didn’t get it from the Reds and continued to produce the way he has in the last two years, he would have gotten that kind of offer from someone else. However, the negotiations for Brandon Phillips were not going well before the news of this deal hit the baseball world, I imagine that this happening first will not help one bit. I think Phillips is a great second baseman and deserves to get a long-term deal from Cincinnati, especially since he sincerely wants to stay with the Reds. I hope he is able to get the contract he wants to stay right where he is, because it would be fun to watch him and Votto wreck havoc on the NL Central for years to come, even more so now that Pujols and Fielder have left the division.