Joey Votto’s Massive Extension Changes the Game

Well, I think we’ve just seen the first piece of fallout from the stunning $2.15 billion purchase of the Dodgers on Wednesday. With money flowing into MLB at a breakneck pace, the Cincinnati Reds decided to make star first baseman Joey Votto an offer he couldn’t refuse. Actually, they made him an offer that no player in baseball could refuse, signing him (per Bob Nightengale of USA Today) to the longest contract in the history of the game — a staggering 12-year, $251.5 million commitment (or, phrased differently, a 10-year extension on top of the 2/26 he had already agreed to) that will keep Votto in Cincinnati through the 2023 season.

For as much as the Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder contracts helped shape the off-season, this is the deal that could have long lasting effects going forward. First baseman have been getting monster contracts in free agency for years, and in both cases, there were some special circumstances that set their particular case apart; Pujols is one of the great players in the history of the game, while Fielder certainly benefited from Victor Martinez‘s torn ACL, which didn’t occur until after most other options were already off the table. Free agents trying to use these deals as yardsticks for future negotiations would not stack up to Pujols resume, nor would they likely reap the rewards of a high-payroll team suddenly needing their services just weeks before spring training begins.

This contract for Votto, though, doesn’t come with any of those caveats, and it didn’t come through an intense bidding war in free agency. This is the third-largest contract in baseball history being given to a player who was two years away from free agency. This deal just blows up the expected compensation level for premium players negotiating with only their own franchise.

Before this deal, these were the recent comps that teams and agents could point to for power hitters who needed two more full seasons before they reached free agency:

Miguel Cabrera: 8 years, $152 million, covering ages 25-32
Ryan Howard: 5 years, $125 million, covering ages 32-36
Travis Hafner: 4 years, $57 million, covering ages 32-35

Cabrera got a deal that rivaled what you might expect a premium free agent to get, but he got to the majors as a 20-year-old and was much younger than the average player who has 4+ years of service time. Even though the Tigers gave him an eight-year deal, they still weren’t locking him up much past his prime, and could expect to get premium production for nearly the entire duration of the contract. Hafner and Howard were both older when they got their deals than Votto is now, but we still see that teams were reluctant to guarantee premium money past the mid-30s.

And, while he’s not the same type of player, Ryan Zimmerman added another 4+ service-time extension data point this winter, agreeing to a six-year, $100 million addition to the contract he was already signed to. That deal started with Zimmerman’s age-29 season, so in terms of ages, he’s a better fit for Votto than the three listed above. Of course, the things Zimmerman does well aren’t as highly valued as the things that Votto does well, so Votto should have been expected to clear Zimmerman’s bar pretty easily. Which he did, and then some.

Even if we expand the list of comps to cover guys with 5+ years of service time, this deal still blows the doors off anything we’ve seen before. Here are the contracts that guys have signed just one year before reaching free agency:

Derek Jeter: 10 years, $189 million, covering ages 27-36
Joe Mauer: 8 years, $184 million, covering ages 28-35
Matt Kemp: 8 years, $160 million, covering ages 27-34
Adrian Gonzalez: 7 years, $154 million, covering ages 30-36
Vernon Wells: 7 years, $126 million, covering ages 29-35

Jeter’s deal was the closest thing to this extension for Votto, but the Yankees were coming off three consecutive World Series championships, and keeping Jeter in NY was as much a business decision as a baseball decision. Even still, the Yankees only locked Jeter up through age 36. The rest of the deals all vary around the $20 million per year range, but come in with the same basic timeframe, buying out seasons through the player’s mid-30s in order to keep him around for his prime years. And remember, these guys were all one service-time year up from Votto, giving them substantially more leverage in negotiations.

Votto’s deal guarantees him that same $20ish million AAV, but locks him up through his age-39 season. This is basically unprecedented for a non-free agent, and when you factor in that he was two years away from free agency, it’s a staggering guarantee by the Reds. To do this deal now and absorb the extra risk of guaranteeing him 2014-2023 while Votto is still two years away from being able to negotiate a deal on the open market, the Reds are essentially saying that his fair market value is somewhere around $300 million.

A few months ago, that would have sounded absurd. However, since the off-season began, we’ve seen the Angels flex their financial muscle after agreeing to a television contract that promises to push significant new revenues into their organization. Just a few days ago, we saw the Dodgers get purchased at a valuation that was dramatically higher than expected, and with their own television deal coming up for renegotiation, they also look to be in a position to push a lot of cash into the industry. Put simply, we’re seeing some positive shocks to the game’s economy, and the result looks to be a significant uptick in willingness by teams to borrow from their own futures to finance talent acquisition in the present.

What we’re seeing could be described as inflation, but it’s not upward price adjustments in the traditional form. Pujols, Fielder, Reyes, Votto, Kemp, and Zimmerman all landed contracts in excess of $100 million this winter, but in each situation, the surprising number wasn’t the AAV but the amount of guaranteed years on the back end. The $24M AAV for Pujols and $23.8M AAV for Fielder don’t even rank in the top five in baseball history, but they took slightly lower annual paychecks in order to get deals that would keep the money flowing for essentially the rest of their careers. Now Votto has done the same thing, taking a deal that pays him just slightly more per season than Carl Crawford, but basically ensures that this is the last contract he will ever have to negotiate.

And, perhaps this is exactly what we should expect as a reaction to potential new revenue sources opening up for MLB franchises. These TV deals that are being signed don’t come with huge lump sum payments, so teams don’t have buckets of cash burning holes in their pockets. What they do have, or may expect to have in the next few years, is a guaranteed revenue source that will allow them to be in a strong financial position for the next couple of decades. And now, with every team looking to see when they can get in on this upwards adjustment in TV money, it’s become an arms race to lock in talent at current market prices for as long as possible, and getting these deals done by guaranteeing parts of the future expected revenue pie.

This deal for Votto signifies that this trend is not going away any time soon. The Reds aren’t a big market, high payroll franchise and their television contract reportedly is only paying them ~$10 million per year at the moment, but they know a renegotiation of that price is going to come in three to four years, and if current trends persist, they’re going to be able to get a significant hike on their next contract. That rate increase will come along just in time to finance the back end of Votto’s deal, and I’d imagine that knowledge played a huge role in convincing them to guarantee Votto current market premium dollars for years when he likely won’t be earning premium dollars on the field.

So, at this point, we have a couple of options – we can continue to be shocked and amazed at the growing rate of contracts that guarantee big money to players from 2018 and beyond, or we can adjust our expectations for what premium players are going to be able to command going forward. With the promise of new money flowing into many organizations over the next three to five years, I’d imagine we’ll see more and more teams being aggressive in trying to lock up their young stars before they get to free agency and have to bid against whichever franchise just happened to renegotiate their television contract a few months prior.

For the Reds, the equation was pretty simple – keep Votto and contend during the run-up to the expiration of their television deal, or trade him away, rebuild, and come to the table asking for more money after a couple of years of going young and probably taking their lumps. Given those options, giving Votto a couple of extra years at the back end to increase their bargaining position doesn’t look quite so crazy.

However, that logic could be used to justify nearly any price. Give Tim Lincecum $500 million? Why not, new TV money on the way! Obviously, there’s a line where these deals cease to make sense even if we anticipate that this trend of upward spikes in revenues is not going away any time soon. Where does Votto’s deal fall in terms of that line?

It’s probably pretty close to it, honestly. Votto’s been a +7 win player each of the last two years, but a decent chunk of his offensive value is tied up in his career .352 BABIP, which is pretty much the absolute upper limit for a sustainable performance over the long term. Over the last 20 years, the top three on the BABIP leaderboard (min 3000 PA) are Derek Jeter (.355), Matt Kemp (.352, just barely over 3000 PA), and Ichiro Suzuki (.351). You’ll probably note that all three of them are pretty fast, and can leg out infield hits when they need to. The best comparison for Votto is Miguel Cabrera, who comes in at .347 – in other words, it’s not impossible for Votto to keep getting balls to fall in at this rate, but there’s really nowhere for him to go but down in that area. More likely, we should probably project Votto as a +6 win player going forward, which accounts for some overall regression and variability of health.

Given that he’s in his prime, we can probably sustain Votto as a +6 win player for three years before we project age-related decline, and then we’d accelerate the decline towards the end of his career when his skills are likely to disappear a bit faster. So, a projection for Votto over the next 12 years might go something like this:

2012: +6 WAR
2013: +6 WAR
2014: +5.5 WAR
2015: +5.0 WAR
2016: +4.5 WAR
2017: +4.0 WAR
2018: +3.5 WAR
2019: +2.8 WAR
2020: +2.1 WAR
2021: +1.4 WAR
2022: +0.7 WAR
2023: +0.0 WAR

Total: +41.5 WAR

If we start at $5 million per win and apply the 5% future inflation to these expected performances, we’d get a total of $249 million over the next 12 years, almost exactly what the Reds just signed Votto for. But, again, that model is for free agents, and Votto was two years away from free agency. In other words, the Reds basically didn’t seem to get any kind of discount for taking on additional risk.

A few months ago, this deal would have looked crazy, and we’d have all been in shock at the Reds willingness to mortgage their long term future to chase after near term wins. However, this deal suggests the possibility of inflation going well over 5% down the line, as teams are basically guaranteeing themselves large portions of dead money in the future, and will have to increase their spending to offset the large amount of cash going to players who will probably not be overly productive at the ends of their careers.

A few months ago, I would have expected Votto to have to settle for a contract somewhere between Ryan Howard’s $125 million and Miguel Cabrera’s $154 million. Now, though, those numbers simply seem obsolete. Votto’s deal shows that it’s not just the big market teams that are expecting significant revenue growth going forward.

This deal is going to have lasting repercussions on the sport. Not only does it suggest that the Reds are going to remain competitive in the NL Central going forward, but it also resets the price expectations for every pre-free agent player in the sport. Congratulations, players, all of your expected prices just went up. Way up.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

216 Responses to “Joey Votto’s Massive Extension Changes the Game”

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  1. Chone Figgins MVP says:

    It’s great for baseball that he stays in Cincinnati. That city has such a rich baseball history, so it’s nice to see another star lined up in a Reds jersey for the long haul. It’s also great that a smaller market can keep their superstar and purely as a fan of the game of baseball, I’m glad to see this.

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    • soupman says:

      They will pay him ~90 million dollars in the 2020s…a decade in which Dave Cameron has just projected him to accrue less than 4 fWAR.

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      • MW says:

        Congratulations. You lopped off the backend of the deal and made it look bad. You can do that with any deal. The question is, do you get enough surplus value at the front end to justify it? It’s a risk for the Reds, but theyre also a very good team now, andshould be for a couple seasons.

        And as Jays fan, all I can say is I’m really happy there’s no chance of another megabat first baseman coming into the AL, especially since there’s no chance the Jays were going to give anything near this kind of deal.

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      • soupman says:

        don’t really understand the snark – everything okay in your life?

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      • naysayer says:

        just sayin’… he’s projected above to earn 4.2 fWAR between 2020 & 2023, when the contract runs out, according to the table above, and he’s signed for 4 years in the 2020s, not the whole “decade”.

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      • soupman says:

        well not that i expect him to get another contract after 2023 and a (projected) 0 fWAR season, but i thought it was pretty clear i was refering to what the contract will pay in the 2020s…but i guess since i didn’t take the trouble to do the fWAR addition correctly, you probably assumed i breathe through my mouth or something. anyway: the point is that there are 8 years between now and 2020, and it’s after that Votto is still owed 90 million dollars. i’m not sure why MW et al. are so upset at me when their point is essentially exactly the point i made: Votto has to be REALLY REALLY good for the next 8 years to return anything that approximates the $/WAR value Cameron is projecting.

        Also, i was just kind of marvelling at the fact that the (roaring?) 20′s are still a ways away. seriously, i’m not sure why this community shows such a lack of generosity in its comments…it makes me feel sad for those that have to affect these venomous personas for whatever reasons. or have i wronged you in the past? i don’t think so…

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      • ezb230 says:

        I don’t see where MW made a personal attack, so I’m not sure you should be taking this so personally. That said, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to focus on the latter years of this deal, as you did. in fact, MW’s comment that “The question is, do you get enough surplus value at the front end to justify it?” implicitly accepts your proposition that Cincy could be in trouble when the latter half of this deal rolls around. I think most readers here assume he will be worth the money for the first few years, but they need surplus value from the first half of this deal because they’ve overpaid for the second half.

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      • ezb230 says:

        Also, I disagree with MW’s point that you can’t evaluate long-term deals by focusing on their latter halves. Most of these long-term deals bring negative value for the team in the backend; the question for comparing them is, how many bad years do they cover? For example, AGon’s deal covers years 30-36 for basically the same money per year as Votto, while Votto’s covers years 30-40. Can’t we assume that AGon’s deal will include fewer years where he underperfomes his salary? And, on that basis, can’t we say AGon’s deal is better than Votto’s (for their respective teams)?

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      • soupman says:

        the whole “congratulations” line is something that no one would ever say to my face in real life and expect me to continue speaking to them. and yes, i agree – s/he goes on to accept my premise in their comment as i also outlined in the post above you. i’m not personally offended, i’m just sort of wondering why this type of snarkiness is seemingly part and parcel of stat-oriented-analysis discourse.

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      • nattyman4 says:

        Soupman… you need to get some thicker skin, or just ignore people. MW was just making a point.

        As for your argument, I think it’s become the norm to overpay people long term to win now. Not many people think Pujols is going to be worth his new contract at the end of it, but if the Angels win a few World Series between now and then, it’s worth it. Same with A-Rod’s contract, etc.

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      • soupman says:

        my original comment was a version of “wow” – with specifics. i’m not objecting to the (non-)point MW was making, i’m objecting to the general tone of their response. instead of getting in a flame war, or ignoring it – i’ve chosen to engage in this instance. i don’t normally do this – i usually just ignore it as you suggest. i appreciate your advice, and see the wisdom in it, but sometimes it’s worth calling people on their actions- but it is always a personal choice to engage or not in a micropolitical practice.

        my feeling is that a respectful community will allow more critical voices to be heard than one where trolling and snark are hegemonic, or at least – tacitly accepted forms of discourse. the problem with picking a problematic response to someone else is that the immediate reaction would be that i am simply “white knighting” – so at least i avoid that, at the risk of being asked “u mad?”

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      • Colm says:

        Sheesh, people are talking right past each other this morning.

        I can understand soupman’s query, but perhaps it helps to look at the contract differently. Rather than a 12 year contract that pays $21 million per year, consider it an 8 year contract that pays $31.5M per year, with $82M of the payments deferred to the years 2020-2023.

        The numbers are much higher for the Votto contract, but all sports teams have been making this type of deal since forever.

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    • Speaking as a disappointed Jays fan holding out for Votto in 2014, let’s hope he still has something left in 2024.

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    • This is what people said about the Mauer deal, though.

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      • bill says:

        Twins went from a ~8m/yr t.v. deal to a $29m t.v. deal which went into effect for 2011 season. I’m not sure if that means the Mauer contract essentially paid for itself via TV revenues since its impossible to say what the team could have negotiated otherwise.

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    • Stan says:

      I kind of agree that its nice to see a guy sign up to basically spend his career in one place like that. The trouble is that they’ve paid so much that its almost certain to end badly. St. Louis wisely realized that they couldn’t devote that much to a single player and still win and they have a lot more money to spend than Cincy. Who’s going to be around to play with Votto in a couple years? Remember they just ransacked their mediocre system to get Latos and Marshall so they could make a run for a couple of years. If you’re going to take a bunch of steps down that road as they did, I don’t know that you can ever go back.

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      • Jay says:

        Mediocre…do your research before saying that…

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      • putmeincoach says:

        The Reds have the 18th best system according to fangraphs. I don’t think you’ll find anyone who has them ranked much higher. What description would you use? below average?

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        I think he read it as “mediocre already and then they ransacked it”. Which wasn’t true, it WAS a good system, now it’s mediocre.

        It doesn’t take all that much to build a good system back. Look at the Cards. They had a horrible system for about 3 years in a row, now they have a top 5 system. Sure it’s a lot of raw skill, but a few good drafts or international signings and the Reds will have a good system again.

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  2. williams .482 says:

    Wow.

    I think that covers it.

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  3. Nik says:

    I think there will be 2 market forces working the next few years.. The new TV deals pushing the smaller/mid market team payrolls way up while the Luxury Tax ceiling will curb the spending of the teams already up against the ceiling. The net effect will be a convergence of teams near the luxury tax levels, a great thing for baseball parity.

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    • Elias says:

      Won’t MLB just raise the luxury tax ceiling? MLB is looking to maximize profits, not parity.

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      • Nik says:

        Raising the tax ceiling is the opposite of maximizing profits. I think it will be a point of contention going forward as it is already acting as a hard-cap as even the free spending Yankees are trying to get under it.

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  4. MikeM says:

    Joey Votto’s “massive extenstion”. Hehe.

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  5. Paul says:

    Dave,
    Does that deal alter your opinion on Cain’s contract?

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  6. Chicken Dinner says:

    Id just call it bad deal…

    Good write up though

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  7. As a corollary to the justification in this article, would deals signed before the Dodgers purchase begin to seem like bargains relative to the current market?

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  8. Baron Samedi says:

    Not to nitpick, but the phrase “going forward” appears five times in this article. In every instance, I can’t see how the sentence would be any less clear without its inclusion.

    Are we ever, EVER going backward?

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    • vivalajeter says:

      You don’t follow the Mets, do you?

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    • Ludwig von Koopa says:

      Is Dave Cameron secretly a middle manager at my company? The MBA types we employ use that phrase constantly (sometimes multiple times in a sentence).

      “Going forward, we need to cut down overtime in order to control our costs going forward.” I wish I made that up.

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  9. Rob McMillin says:

    I absolutely do not believe that these deals will pan out. Undergirded as they are by regional sports networks (mostly Fox and Comcast), they depend on multiple things going right simultaneously:

    1) Subscriber declines won’t continue. I don’t see how this happens, especially since
    2) Subscriber erosion won’t primarily affect the most desirable demographics. We know this is false because most of the declines are in the 35-and-under group, which has an unemployment rate around 30%.
    3) RSNs can raise rates faster than subscriber declines make base revenue disappear. One of the big problems here is that the RSNs get paid per cable subscriber, but the agreements with the teams is a flat annual fee.
    4) As a worst-case scenario, teams can still monetize viewers individually.

    I have laid my case out here and here for why I think this won’t work for the Dodgers. I don’t think anyone else, really, is in much better shape (maybe the Yankees, but they’re actually doing it in terms of pulling in the revenue, and have been for a while). This is really three interlocking big bets: first, by the RSNs, that they have a “killer app” for cable TV and expect to get paid for it; second, by the cable TV providers, that this will stanch the outflow of paying customers; and third, by the teams, that this will provide the money specified in the contract. I expect all three are wrong.

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    • soupman says:

      do people think that cable, phone, and internet services will remain “separate” in the foreseeable future? correct me if i’m wrong, but won’t that require legislating technological backwardness and subsidies to the massive cable/phone service providers? do these new television deals include lifting blackout restrictions to sell mlb.tv subscriptions? i’m still not really understanding the economics of the big tv deals (not that i’ve spent any time trying so far) – can anyone rec. some articles?

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    • ccoop says:

      I agree but I also disagree. I think you’re undervaluing the potential for regional providers to reimagine their delivery method for sports entertainment and, further, their ability to draw revenue from that demand. Live sports is a driver for owning cable and it’s a boon for cable providers as well because it’s rarely fastforwarded or dvred, which means higher ad revenue. I can’t see a situation where a gainfully employed sports fan won’t pay for sports programming, even if that’s the only thing he or she is buying from the cable company and it’s expensive.

      As for your unemployment argument–check out the recent college grad hiring numbers. They’re decidely bullish.

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  10. Rob McMillin says:

    And I suppose I should say further that Votto’s deal is backed up by the threat of the Dodgers’ TV money.

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  11. adohaj says:

    Joey Votto’s Career line .313/.405/.550

    Chipper Jones Career line .304/.402/.533

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    • Nik says:

      And roses are red. And my lucky day is Wednesday.

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    • dbake005 says:

      Let’s let joey votto be old and play injured some before we compare those.

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      • adohaj says:

        You don’t get it. That’s why I wrote it.

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      • NadavT says:

        Why would anybody get that?

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        basically you’re saying that chipper jones is one of the most complete hitters of all time and despite being often hurt and old he’s still about as good as Votto has been (largely in his prime years) over his career? Do I have this right?

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    • Doug Gray says:

      At the same time, Votto’s overall line is more impressive (solely from an offensive standpoint) because he wasn’t playing from 1993-2004 where the offensive output was just at a much higher level overall. It makes Votto’s offense, more valuable, since there are maybe 5 guys who can match that right now, where as with Chipper, there were about 15-20 who could do it.

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      • Shane H says:

        Chipper and Votto are a wash through 27.

        Chipper Jones Joey Votto

        23 354 wOBA, 3fWAR, 602 PA 387 wOBA, (.1) fWAR, 89 PA
        24 402, 6.4, 693 373, 4.0, 589
        25 372, 4.0, 679 418, 4.7, 544
        26 411, 7.4, 707 439, 7.3, 648
        27 453, 7.7, 701 403, 6.9, 719
        28 6.2 NA
        29 6.5 NA
        30 6.3 NA
        31 4.2 NA
        32 3.5 NA
        33 5.1 NA
        34 4.3 NA
        35 7.5 NA
        36 7.5 NA
        37 2.8 NA
        38 2.9 NA
        39 2.1 NA

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        of those 15-20, how many were using steroids and other PEDs?

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    • jim says:

      joey votto’s career wRC+: 151

      chipper jones’s career wRC+: 143

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      • MetsFan212 says:

        Chipper Jones has also played 18 full season. Joey Votto has played in 4 full seasons. If I could retroactively give Chipper $250M, knowing what I know now, I would. As for Joey Votto…let’s hope he can be the next Chipper Jones.

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      • adohaj says:

        Chippers wRC+ of 143 is much more impressive

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      • bstar says:

        That’s kinda weird how comparing a 4-year career’s wRC+ to an 18-year one is getting a bunch of positive votes.

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      • jim says:

        joey votto’s wRC+ through his first 5 seasons: 151

        chipper jones’s wRC+ through his first 5 seasons: 140

        you were saying?

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    • Bill but not Ted says:

      Wouldnt a better comparison be Chipper’s rate stats after playing 4-5 years?

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    • j6takish says:

      Chipper Jones is a massive outlier in terms of aging curves. It’s like saying that signing a power hitting 1b for 12 years is a good idea because Jim Thome is still productive.

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    • adohaj says:

      Bottom line is, best case for Joey Votto is to put up similar offensive numbers as Chipper Jones but at a less valuable position.

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      • bstar says:

        You’re saying that like you’re absolutely certain what Votto’s ceiling really is. Can we with reasonable certainty make that call yet? Here we are once again assuming player X’s BABIP is unsustainable.

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      • CJ says:

        Forget BABIP. Do you see Votto being a 150ish wRC+ hitter forever? So very few of those. Willie Mays had a 157 career wRC+. Hank Aaron had a 154 career wRC+. You’re saying he has a ceiling HIGHER than this?

        You’re saying his ceiling (by which I mean his bat) is higher than a surefire Hall of Famer? That just doesn’t really compute. I mean, he could be the top three bestest players ever (maybe better than peak Pujols, 167 wRC+, or even Bonds, 175 wRC+), but the odds of that happening are real small.

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      • CJ says:

        I think I screwed my point up. All I’m saying is that Votto, right now, if he’d posted his wRC marks, or wOBA, or whatever robust batting metric you like over 15+ years instead of 4, would be one of the best hitters ever.

        Projecting him for further upside over “one of the best ever” would require a lot of evidence to sway me. Just because, by Bayes, the best players ever were both uber-talented and uber-lucky. Votto might be uber-talented, but he still has to get uber-lucky to post 170+ wRC+.

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      • bstar says:

        I’m not sure where you made the leap that I was implying he was going to be a 151 wRC+ player at age 39. I never said anything like that. What I meant was that Votto could get a little better in the immediate future; for example, if his power stroke hasn’t actually peaked yet, we could see an uptick in HR/SLG/wRC+, whatever. It’s generally accepted that power probably does peak AFTER 27, so obviously Votto is perfectly capable of this.

        Votto’s wRC+ for the last three years and looking forward, using a 5-4-3 weighting system, stands currently at 161.

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    • Colm says:

      I don’t get it either, adohaj.
      What point are you making?

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  12. Ken says:

    This winter has certainly showed us that the stagnation of salary inflation following the financial market collapse is over. The cable deals and growth in MLBAM are making the teams richer, which is now manifesting in deals like this.

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  13. Danny says:

    I assume Votto’s ridiculously low IFFB% (0% in 2010 and 0.6% in 2011) significantly helps his BABIP, correct?

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    • Doug Gray says:

      It has. I remember him hitting a pop up last year and knowing he hadn’t had one the year before. It is rather hilarious. But the amount of bloop hits he gets is just ridiculous. Watching him every night I always think that he is due for a decline in BABIP to a more normal range (say .320-.330) due to the amount of soft bloopers he just inside outs the other way that fall in.

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      • Neil says:

        I seem to recall seeing an argument (here, even?) where they suggested that this might be a particular skill of Votto’s. (And Mauer’s.) They go the opposite way with amazing frequency – and land them for hits at a better than average rate – even on pitches that are inside. So it might not just be luck.

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      • Jay29 says:

        I agree with Neil. It may look ugly but if you do it long enough it’s a skill.

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      • bstar says:

        Good grief. It may not be “all luck”? It would be phenomenally short-sighted to think luck was 100% responsible. All you have to do is watch Joey Votto hit.

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  14. Steve says:

    The Braves are ROYALLY screwed.

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  15. tom s. says:

    i think one of the most concerning things about this trend is that – assuming teams are guessing wrong on the value and lengths of these contracts – the error won’t be apparent until a lot of these guys reach year 6, year 7, year 8 of their contracts, which will probably be the point where teams start reconsidering their contracts. watching another 4-6 years of these contracts before there’s a correction could mean baseball is pretty painful to watch in some markets until the contract expire.

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    • Colin says:

      There might be something to be said for the incentive difference that comes between the people negotiating and advising on the deals and the people paying them. Not having an equity interest and being an employee in a high turnover industry will give incentive to employees to do crazy things. In the end the owners pay the price.

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  16. Bucky says:

    Why include the 2 pre-FA years? In judging the extension, I would look at just the 10 years starting in ’14, and not consider the 12 WAR projected for ’12 and ’13.

    Furthers your point, anyway, that $$/WAR might be inflating more than 5%… or supports the point that that is one way too huge contract.

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    • Shane H says:

      Scott Boras is jumpimg up and down in joy. Tommorrow he starts writing up 6 million dollars/WAR arguments for his free agent class of 2012/2013. Oh yeah and Matt Kemp got screwed. All of the sudden 8 years at 160 million looks like Jaun Pierre money.

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      • Jay29 says:

        I don’t think a $/WAR ratio is perfectly accurate since signing an elite player brings a lot more attention to a franchise than several average players. If Boras is expecting $12M/yr for his average players, he’ll be disappointed, but it definitely is a good day for agents with other high-profile clients coming up on free agency.

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    • hk says:

      I am admittedly naive to the origination or accuracy of this $5M/WAR calculation, but if the premise of this article is that the Dodgers sale has changed the market price of free agents or near free agents getting extensions, don’t we have to immediately increase the $5M for all post-Dodger sale contracts?

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  17. Joey B says:

    You really can’t calculate WAR like that. it is two separate contracts. So it is an additional 29.5 WAR for an additional $225M. I’ll say the same thing I said two years ago with Howard. If you can sign a guy for ‘x’ two years from now, there is no reason to sign a guy for ‘x’ today. There is a refusal to believe that players will age.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • vivalajeter says:

      I agree. According to the graph, he’ll be worth roughly $60MM over the next 2 years, and his contract pays him about $25MM. Excess value is about $35MM. So if he’s worth about what his contract will pay him, that means he’ll be worth about $35MM less than the 10 extended years will be paying him.

      If they waited a year to make a decision, would he really have been that much more expensive?

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    • I also was confused why Dave included 2012-3 in his WAR projections The Reds already had him for those years.

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  18. SC2GG says:

    Here’s a conspiracy theory for you:

    The owners know they can do this, because the current collective bargaining agreement ends in five years, so they’re going to reap all the benefit of players in primes of careers they can, and “fix” this later – think the auto industry and US Govt bailouts.

    And why not? They did this before, and we all saw the NHL do it – bad contracts can be cut off at a significant discount. The owners aren’t stupid people, they may seem stupid at times when they let desire for a new toy get the better of them, but they aren’t stupid. You don’t get that much money by not knowing how money works, and owners are like everyone else, they can buy a new toy. It’s just that they know that in five years, they have an opportunity to fix their planned mistakes, so they can make the best of the current situation.

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    • MW says:

      I think that’s pretty crazy. “Fixing it” will end up with a long strike, and everybody loses in that scenario (see: 1994-95). Moreover, that assumes everyone has their primes at the same time, which is untrue. Every year, new star players emerge. In 5 years, Bryce Harper, Trout, etc will be appraoching their primes.

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    • RollTribe says:

      Maybe Joey Votto is 3 years older than his birth certificate says

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    • philosofool says:

      I’m sorry, but WHAT?

      How are owners getting out of these contracts? That seems almost impossible, legally. These contracts are well defined and there’s no latitude to just eliminate them without paying.

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  19. Shane H says:

    Poor, Poor Evan Longoria.

    +58 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Shane H says:

      That being said is Evan not supposed to be a free agent going into his age 30 season, the same age Votto enters into his 10 year extension.

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  20. Oliver says:

    This baseball bubble is going to be vicious when it bursts. It all depends on advertising revenue, which is an area undergoing massive, wholesale changes, and teams are structuring their futures around a market that is (and should be) changing rapidly. Looks like I’m never going to get my MLB.tv without blackouts, because the entire economic structure of baseball is now based on making sure I’m locked into my TV–something that’s rapidly diminishing in importance in terms of my media consumption.

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • night manimal says:

      That’s the beauty of live sports. It’s got staying power when it comes to catching eyeballs unlike the rest of the entertainment business. The chances of them seeing significant reductions in their advertising dollars are small.

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      • lexomatic says:

        I’d disagree with this statement. I stopped going to Jays games – despite the 1$/game seasons tickets – because I hate the effort into being noisy and showy and busy. Let the players play the game, let me watch, follow whatever. I don’t need the “added value.”
        I just go to InterCounty games now, which is much more enjoyable.

        I never went to hockey games, because the option would be 100$ to get scalped tickets, and NBA is yet more of the ADD style entertainment instead of sports thing.

        I will totally avoid pro sports live. I also don’t subscribe to cable/satellite, and MLBtv isn’t available in Canada.

        I listen on the radio and do other stuff.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        sports does have staying power, but why would I watch on TV? The people my age (college age) watch as much stuff on the internet as they do on their TV. Because mediacom sucks so hard, nobody in an apartment that I know has cable and watch everything online. So eventually, there will be less viewers and the TV ad revenue will go down.

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    • Oliver says:

      Sure, but the odds of me canceling my cable are quite high because most of my media consumption now is online.

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  21. MikeS says:

    Paying a 39 year old $20M to play baseball has rarely been a good idea.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • night manimal says:

      Probably say the same for 35, 36, 37 and 38 year old guys for that matter.

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    • Shane H says:

      The real scary part is deeming a 39 year old will be woth 21 million when they are 28. Or that Albert Pujols will be 24 million at age 41. Has anyone been watching these guys age without (I think) the rampant PED use of the 1990′s and early 2000′s. Alex Rodriguez who could be described as the perfect Baseball Machine signed that second 250 million dollar deal after his last historic season in 2007 at age 31-32. He has not played in 130 games in the four years since signing bottoming out at 99 games last year. His OPS has also dropped every year bottoming out at 116 last year. His body is starting to betray him and he would admit as much. Judging by his recent histoy as well as that of others from before the steroid era I would doubt we see another 5 WAR season from him especially with him likely to be DHing more. The Yankees have him under contract for six more years if his body holds that long which it may. The Yakees owe him 163 million for sure. He has 629 career homers leaving him 133 shy of tying Barry Bonds. If he hits 134 homers over the next 6 years (average of 22.333) he will make 193 million over these next 6 years and the toatl of the contract with deferments will be 305 million. My point is that Arod was better at 31-32 than any of these guys and it looks like the Yankees will regret the contract. Joey Votto could be the next Don Mattingly. A nice 6 year run and then a sore back leaves him replacement level at best. In which case the whole ten year extension will be a huge mistake. Ken Griffey Jr came home to Cincinati for a 9 year contract and put up 11 rWAR over that time frame. Let’s hope for the Red’s sake Votto is better than Griffey in his 30′s.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jay29 says:

        Great points, except there may be a difference in ability between a 35-year-old after finishing 5-10 years of steroid use, and a 35-year-old who has never used steroids. Perhaps all that damage shortens careers.

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      • Shane H says:

        I think it’s difficult to say and it likely affected different players different ways. I cannot say for sure but it seems like maybe it shortened career’s for guys who used it early in their careers such as Mcgwire and Canseco as perhaps they got injuries from growing to much too quickly. But Then I look at a guy like Bonds who was still one of the games most efficient players at age 42. My guess is he could have kept raking as a DH in the American league. It seemed like guys who didn’t get too big for their body used it for a prolonged career. I do not know who used it and who did no tbut I will run out a list of guys who stayed productive or showe late peaks during the era. Mcgriff, Sierra, Chilli Davis, Jim Edmonds, Steve Finley, Rickey Henderson, Jeff Kent, Craig Biggio, Frank Thomas, Luis Gonzalez, Andres Gallarraga, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi etc. etc.. I’m not saying all or any of these players juiced only that they had big years mid thirties on. These days who is really humming past 35. I can’t think of anyone. My guess is that steroids helped som and hurt some depending on who you were to start, what you took, how long you used, how big you got, how much medical supervision did you get, when did you start and why you were doing them. I also think the elimination of amphetamines shortened careers as aging veterans likely used them for focus and energy. It just seems like todays game is for younger and younger players. I think this for a few reasons. A.) The competition is greater than ever. B.) Players generally peak sooner due to weight lifting and C.) The removal of greenies and steroids from the game.

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      • Spike says:

        why should we care what some team is paying these guys? Is it your money?

        All this means is that:
        1) Teams have more money to spend, and
        2) They will be more judicious on their spending for marginal talent. There will be fewer $7M and $8M deals thrown around.
        3) the trend to lock up good young players will continue.

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  22. Ted Williams Head says:

    For the last 10 years of the deal, to justify a $5mil per WAR market value, Votto must average 4.51 WAR per year. Cameron projects him to average 2.95 WAR per year. I know $5mil won’t be the market rate for the next 10 years, but damn, he falls 1.5 wins per year short per year. Hey, at least they didn’t sign Ryan Howard to 5 year $125 mil

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  23. Table says:

    I really liked Kemp’s deal before, now I love it.

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    • kozilla says:

      I would say I feel sorry for Kemp missing out on this kind of payday but then again he is still going to make 20+ mil/year so I decided I won’t lose any sleep over it.

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  24. T.F.K says:

    fun fact:
    Alex Gordon 2011 WAR: 6.9
    Joey Votto 2011 WAR: 6.9

    both had 2 years to go till Free Agency, one of them got 37.5 million guaranteed and the other got 250 million.

    -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. Bryce says:

    Any chance we’re just seeing nonlinear $/WAR?

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jcxy says:

      I think you’ve hit it on the head. I’m not convinced the $/WAR model works at the extremes. Because elite talent is rare (and replacement level talent cheap and available) a 6 WAR player is more valuable than two 3 WAR players, right? The $/WAR model does not reflect that.

      Moreover, if everyone buys into that, it becomes a self-fulfilling loop. If teams pay a premium $/WAR, then it necessitates having cheap fungible talent more readily available. It’s like how if you build a fantasy baseball team using the stars and scrubs method. Now, imagine everyone does that. Elite players get more but there will also be more dollar players. This idea isn’t without merit IMO…it’s not un-similar to how a lot of observers want to see nba salaries ultimately end up (the lebrons, kobes, durants get more, the midlevel/not-quite-stars talent get less).

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      • Colm says:

        What your saying about non-linear WAR intuitively makes sense, but people smarter and better informed than me (and possibly than you too) have analysed baseball contracts ad nauseam and found no evidence that teams consistently value players in this way.

        I believe the argument is that having such a significant portion of your money (and WAR) tied up in one player magnifies the risk of losing that player for any length of time. Two 3WAR players spreads the risk, and is, on average, worth as much to a team as one 6WAR player.

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  26. Sky says:

    Dave, why is there additional risk to the Reds, when you’ve already accounted for Votto’s expected decline. Sure, they lose if he’s worse than expected, but Votto’s taking a risk, too, in that if he performs better than expected, a team might have given him even more money. Now, that’s a bit silly to talk about here given that most feel like the Reds overpaid, but that’s not the same as taking on risk, necessarily.

    ” In other words, the Reds basically didn’t seem to get any kind of discount for taking on additional risk.”

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  27. Phantom Stranger says:

    I don’t see how a market like Cincinnati can support this contract at all. Even with a supposed local TV deal coming up for renewal, this is a crazy overpay. The Reds got zero hometown discount from Votto. Doesn’t anyone remember the Griffey deal in Cincinnati?

    Bud must have promised huge revenues/payouts to the owners from the expanded round of playoffs.

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    • gweedoh565 says:

      I remember the Griffey deal. Oh, I remember it. I also remember the decade’s worth of terrible Reds teams that followed it. I will never forget.

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  28. drivlikejehu says:

    Looks like a bad deal for Cincy. The bottom line doesn’t include the partial insurance which the Reds surely have purchased. If you’re going to pay that much, why not just wait two years?

    There’s a limit to how much MLB revenue can grow. If teams get bailed out from bad deals like this it will be thanks to US dollar inflation, not massive payroll growth (in real terms).

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • cable fixer says:

      Hilariously true…USD inflation could definitely bail out these longterm team obligations. Any word on any backloading of this deal?

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    • Pat says:

      or the complete collapse of the fiat money system

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    • Jacob Riggs says:

      Because if you wait 2 years, you have to compete with other teams who will outbid your small market butt.

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      • Colm says:

        We haven’t seen dollar inflation of that sort in over 20 years.
        Never say never, but even 6% RPI inflation is a distant memory now, much less the 20% rates that were typical in the 1970s.

        Baseball contract inflation is, of course, a separate issue.

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  29. KB says:

    The last years of these contracts is already written off. The teams are paying for performance now and do not care if the player is not able to perform at the end of the contract. And owners of teams have regularly saddled themselves with contracts that are albatrosses. But winning in the now is much more important than winning in the future or even the team’s future health. An owner who gives a contract today may very well not be the owner when the contract expires. So, it is important to win now – right now. As George Allen once said – the future is now – and these contracts prove the point and no lamenting how these contracts will harm teams in the future will change that.

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    • Felix says:

      Is it fair to say that the Reds’ window of opportunity to win a championship is considerably greater in 2012, 2013 than 2014 and beyond? Uncertainty of what’s going to happen in 3+ years aside, getting production from an elite 1B for $13M is going to make things easier than getting that same production for $22.5M. And chances are, his next 2 seasons are going to be better than the first few seasons in which this extension begins.

      The Reds didn’t need this massive extension to “win now” since they had Votto signed at a bargain price for the next 2 years anyway.

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  30. Hot Ish says:

    Adjusting for inflation wouldn’t Jeter’s deal be in the same stratosphere of HOLY CRAP?

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    • Hot Ish says:

      And after using a calculator 180 million in 2000 is roughly 220 million in 2010. And Jeter’s contract was shorter so he got the greater AAV. I mean it’s still a historic contract but it’s not completely unheard of.

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      • Anon says:

        “And Jeter’s contract was shorter”

        No, both were for ten years. Votto’s doesn’t start immeadiately though.

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  31. cpebbles says:

    The Cardinals, who have the best TV ratings in the league, have mentioned they don’t want to be handcuffed with a multi-decade TV deal. It makes me wonder whether they are just trying to cover for signing a cable contract well below what this new round of contracts says they should get, or if DeWitt and company are really concerned about rampant inflation in the coming decades.

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  32. jim says:

    tulo+cargo for $237 mil through 2017 (and tulo through 2020) or votto for 2023 for $225 mil….. i wonder how “stupid” those rockies contracts look now….

    +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

  33. JayT says:

    This deal is kind of crazy, but personally I would much rather have a 28 year old Joey Votto for 12 years $249 million then a 32 year old Albert Pujols for 10 years $240 million.

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    • adohaj says:

      Too bad no one was up-bidding the Reds ehh?

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      • jayT says:

        In a way Pujols’ contract did that. Assuming Votto stays healthy the next two years, then he would have cost way more then 10/$225.

        I’m not saying that I would have necessarily done the Votto deal, I’m just saying that I think it is a better deal then the Pujols one. The Reds got to keep a better, younger player then the Angels got and the Reds pretty much get two years free on top of it.

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    • philosofool says:

      “Than” is used for comparisons.

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  34. Neil says:

    I think it’s important to look at these deals in context. You can’t really compare them to each other because the set of circumstances is so different for each. Prince Fielder got way more money than he is worth because Martinez blew out his ACL at a time when Mike Illitch is dying for a title. The Reds probably saw the Dodgers loading up to steal Votto away and realized it was give him this size contract or lose him.

    I don’t know exactly what everyone thinks it his actual value, but it would be pretty safe to say 5/100 wouldn’t be met with any sort of negative judgement. After that, isn’t he worth 5/50 for the second half of the deal? So what we’re really saying is that the Reds paid an extra$75 million over 10 years. $7.5 million per year is the premium they paid to not lose Votto. If I’m a Reds fan, I’m comfortable with that.

    I think when you look at these big deals, you have to look at the what the price tag “should” be versus what it is and judge if the difference is worth it when the alternative is losing the player.

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  35. Oliver says:

    As a phillies fan, this makes me feel a little better about the Ryan Howard contract. Not much, but a little…

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  36. Expos Cortege says:

    Dave, you really need to stop using the redundancy “going forward” in your articles. Where else can we go, in these instances, but forward? Is there some kind of baseball time machine I haven’t heard about? Revisit every instance where those two unfortunate words appear—remove them and you’ll find your intended meaning remains just as clear.

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  37. Psst says:

    So how awesome is that Bautista extension now?

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

  38. Cloud says:

    Fielder deal doesn’t look so bad now, huh fan graph tiger haters

    -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JG says:

      I say this as a Tiger fan… Why do so many Tiger fans on this site have chips on their shoulders about the team being criticized? I don’t see any other team’s fans get so defensive about it. The only really idiotic/unfair criticism of the Tigers or Tigers players I’ve seen recently is the guy on Rotographs who kept insisting all through last year that Verlander wasn’t a top tier AL pitcher.

      The analysis is often tough, but pretty much every team except the Rays gets blasted on Fangraphs from time to time (partially due to a disproportionate amount of regular FG writers being Rays homers, but mostly due to the Rays being immaculately run given their finances).

      If Cabrera proves to be a mediocre-but-not-terrible 3rd baseman this year and puts up more value than he did as a 1B, there will be a Fangraphs article saying how wrong the initial analysis turned out to be in hindsight.

      If Fielder takes advantage of Comerica’s closer right field fences and puts up 7 wins this year, the deal will get re-examined and seen through a more mitigating light.

      +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  39. Josh says:

    People are saying ‘now that Bautista/AGon/Cabrera extension looks pretty good.’ Because they do. Player values are going up. In 3 years, when Hosmer or someone, signs a 10 year, 300+ million dollar extension, people are going to be saying ‘Wow, that Votto extension sure looks good now.’

    That’s how it always goes.

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    • Josh says:

      By player values, I mean perceived player values by teams.

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    • adohaj says:

      That Zito contract sure looks….nevermind

      +23 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Krog says:

      Contract values for the best players don’t always go up. There was a massive spending boom in the early 2000′s and then a drop off. We’re seeing another spending boom right now. Let’s compare the signing dates of a few $100 million+ contracts:

      Alex Rodriguez (2001), Derek Jeter (2001), Manny Ramírez (2001), Todd Helton (2001), Mike Hampton (2001), Jason Giambi (2002)

      Alex Rodriguez (2008), Prince Fielder (2012), Joe Mauer (2011), Mark Teixeira (2009), CC Sabathia (2009), Troy Tulowitzki (2011), Adrián González (2012), Miguel Cabrera (2008), Carl Crawford (2011)

      Jason Giambi’s 2002 deal was the last $100+ contract that paid over $17 million annually until Barry Zito’s 2007 deal. There was certainly a lull in top contracts during the mid 2000′s.

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    • JG says:

      Well, the Cabrera deal -is- incredibly good even without context. I remember reading an article here that it is one of only two “superdeals” that has provided (or reasonably projects to provide) significant surplus value, with the other one being Pujols’ 7/100 deal from 2004.

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  40. Frank says:

    I like when Dave Cameron fudges the numbers to support whatever narrative he has in mind. e.g. Votto is in his prime so he’ll stay a 6 fWAR player for a couple years, but Fielder will immediately begin to decline.

    Never mind the fact that Prince Fielder is younger than Joey Votto. I guess it’s because he’s fat.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Josh says:

      Well, him dying of a heart attack would certainly affect his WAR.

      +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ralph says:

      Yep. Posted this in the largely dead other Votto thread, which shows how sensitive these things based on base-case assumptions:

      Running some numbers assuming 0.5 WAR dropoff/year (the method Dave seemed to think was appropriate for a younger Prince Fielder), here is the $/WAR given an few different assumed 2014 true talent WARs.. (Note that I’m not incorporating any sort of inflation here.)

      Starting with a 2014 true WAR of 6.5, the calculation yields a result of about $5.3 million/WAR.

      For a 6.0, it’s about $6.0M/WAR

      For a 5.5, it’s about $6.9M/WAR

      For a 5.0, it’s about $8.0M/WAR

      And you can more or less follow the trend up or down from there if you don’t want to do the math.

      For easy reference/comparison, Votto’s WARs for 2008-2011 were 4.0, 4.7, 7.3, and 6.9, respectively.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jair Jarrkjens says:

      Prince Fielder has been worth more than 6 WAR once – three years ago, when he posted his sole season with a positive UZR thus far in his career (in fact, it’s his sole season with anything other than a significantly below-average UZR). Votto has been worth more than 6 WAR each of the past two seasons, with no fluky statistics propping those WAR figures up. Moreover, Votto has been worth virtually the same number of WAR as Fielder has been worth thus far in their careers despite Votto having played in essentially two fewer seasons. Don’t get me wrong – I like Fielder, and he’s an elite hitter. But I like Votto as the more valuable player overall going forward.

      And I know you’re a troll, but I can’t help myself: Who’s the one who’s supporting their preconceived narrative?

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  41. Expos Cortege says:

    I’ll overlook “irregardless.” (How perfect!) I’m not addressing the approach to facts; I’m addressing the overuse of a meaningless phrase. Lazy writing undermines a writer’s intent — ahem — regardless of the facts.

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  42. Keystone Heavy says:

    “2013+ Outlook: 49 (17th)

    This basically reflects the fact that Brandon Phillips (FA after 2012) and Joey Votto (FA after 2013) are only under team control for a short period of time, and having either walk away would be a significant loss for the franchise”

    From the organization ratings. I can just picture Walt Jocketty reading this, getting red in the face, and screaming at his computer monitor “Oh Yeah?! Well I’ll fucking show you, Cameron!!!”

    +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

  43. Snowblind says:

    Isn’t this approach going to backfire on some team someday, when it comes tv rights negotiating-time? They load up with long-term contracts, thinking the lucrative media rights renegotiation will help it all work out and then some… and then it comes time to negotiate, and insert-regional-network-here says “um, you hadn’t noticed, but you guys are the ones over a barrel… if we balk at your terms and make you go dark, then you don’t have a magic firehose of money that you can use to pay for the next 6, 8, 10 years of all these wunderkinds you were so proud of locking up….”

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    • Phantom Stranger says:

      It’s not much of a threat because most teams in that situation would just start their own regional cable channel. Sports are the last television shows that are DVR-proof.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Snowblind says:

        How many examples of that are there? I think only the Yankees and Braves have essentially their own networks or stations… I’m not up on what networks cover which teams, though.

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  44. Michael Scott says:

    I hate this standard -0.5 WAR and 5% inflation model. I feel like teams place specific values on players based on their calculations of how they will age, completely defeating the purpose of doing a uniform -0.5 WAR decrease. Does anyone project Prince Fielder to age the same way as Justin Upton outside of that model?

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    • Tom says:

      That’s not the model Dave is using though.

      It is the rather intuitive… 11% inflation this offseason and 5% every offseason after that because…..

      well there is no reason other than Dave has seemingly been stuck on 5mil/WAR the last 2 offseasons.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CJ says:

        Please provide your figures. I’m very interested in them.

        I’m sure you can, since you have legitimate criticisms of other people’s work that you’ve rectified with your own analysis.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Snowblind says:

        Hey CJ, your arbitrary kissing up and snark doesn’t hold a lot of merit here, when there’s never been a solid mathematical foundation for Dave’s system either.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Paul Wilson says:

      +1

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    • Michael Scott says:

      My criticism is more with the 0.5 WAR decrease every season for every player. How GMs predict players age is at the crux of the values of the contracts they offer, and it completely defeats the purpose to just have everyone lose 0.5 each year. I don’t know if you were speaking to me about providing data, but if you want data just go look at player pages.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  45. INGY says:

    BAD CONTRACT ALL AROUND…..HE IS A MALCONTENT IN THE CLUBHOUSE AND SOURCES SAID HE WANTED TO PLAY IN TORONTO OR NEW YORK ANYWAY…..THEY SHOULD HAVE TRADED HIM TO THE JAYS WHEN THEY HAD A CHANCE…I DONT CARE ABOUT HIS VORP OR WARP OR WHATEVER MADE UP STAT IS POPULAR THIS WEEK…..HE HAS BAD FORM AND WILL BE INJURED WAY BEFORE THE CONTRACT IS UP

    -12 Vote -1 Vote +1

  46. Robby says:

    I think a somewhat comparable situation would be the Ryan Braun extension, in as much as they both had multiple years remaining when they signed. Only Braun’s deal ends up being 3 years and $100m less.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  47. Tex Pantego says:

    Even if Votto produces great the first half of the deal, you’re looking at an A-Rod/Texas Ranger scenario with a star surrounded by cheap players…. They’re going to be entirely reliant on their farm system, and even if that works out, they’ll lose that talent to FA and probably have to deal some top talent that starts drawing a bigger salary in arbitration. And that’s the good scenario.

    One thing I’m not seeing pointed out is, unlike a big market team, the Red’s can’t afford a bad contract of this size. Even if he produces, it’s probably a bad deal, but if he declines, for a a myriad of reason, the club is in major franchise-destroying trouble.

    St. Louis and Milwaukee were smart not paying ridiculous contracts, and will reap the benefits when the dumb teams that can’t afford to get in the market for free agency, and have to deal players once arbitration kicks in. Fortunately, the Angels can afford eating bad contracts, and seem to do it annually lately, but the Reds? Nope. Bankruptcy or moving the franchise are possibilities now. If Votto is a shell of what he is today four years from now, will fans show up to watch a terrible team for years to come?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Tigers12 says:

      Yeah, but it’s ok for Votto, because he’s white and he’s fit.

      If he was fat like Fielder, you’d hear all about how horrible and risky the contract was.

      Or if he was dark-skinned like Pineda, you’d hear all sorts of nonsense about reasons to hold him back to get extra club control, or reasons to trade him now-now-now to get a herd of cheap cost-controlled youngsters back.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  48. Andrew says:

    “It’s great for baseball that he stays in Cincinnati. That city has such a rich baseball history, ”

    So does Boston. So why do people like you whine when we give out a huge contract?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CJ says:

      Everyone loves an underdog?

      More interestingly, why do people when comparing contracts, take the side of the massive billion-dollar corporation? If there’s, say, the “bad Ryan Howard deal”, it’s not “poor Ryan Howard is earning far less than he’s worth”, it’s “Phillies got an albatross”.

      Except Evan Longoria. Everyone feels for that guy.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Psst says:

      Because you give out so many, the Reds are likely to lose phillips because of this nobody thinks that signing crawfor means losing Ellesbury

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  49. Nick says:

    If you add up all the payrolls from 2011, there was a total of $2,790,000,000 in baseball. Those $2.79 billion produced a total of 2430 wins. Dividing those two and you get about $1.15 million/win. What is $5M/win considered the standard? I think this just continues to overvalue free agents that screw up our perspectives…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • gweedoh565 says:

      I believe $5M/win is specific to money spent in free agency.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • pft says:

        No it’s not. It assumes that every dollar increased due to an incremental win is available to be spent on the players. Only in Karl Marx’s dreams

        FA typically get less than 80% of that, discounted due to number of years and risk of injury and age related decline, with a few exceptions.

        Arb eligible players on average get 30-60%

        Before being eligible for arbitration, you make the minimum, even if you outproduce stars like Pujols.

        FA salaries in effect are subsidized by non-FA players.

        On average, MLB teams spend only about 40% of revenue on salaries. If every player could be a FA, there would never be a 200+ million dollar deal, and few 100+ million dollar deals.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • mcbrown says:

      He is using “win” as shorthand for “win above replacement”. Current thinking is that a team of replacement-level players would probably win about 50-55 games in a season. If you call it 50, then you are looking at a total of 930 (=2430-50*30) wins above replacement in MLB. So MLB teams paid about $2.79B/930 = $3MM per win above replacement in 2011. When you take into account that some (much? most?) of that money is paid to players signed to longer term contracts from several years ago at lower rates, it’s pretty easy to conclude that at the margin teams are probably paying c. $5MM/win to sign players today, which is consistent with recent free agent deals.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • mcbrown says:

        Btw, I realize that I’m fudging the math a bit, because you have to pay even replacement level players something, but you get the idea.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • SC2GG says:

      You can’t count players under team control. Brett Lawrie will obviously be a good deal, for example.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  50. El Guapo says:

    Forget Boston. Boston is Boston. The arrogance of their players, their ownership and their fans speaks louder than the $$$ they spend on any one player.

    We wonder more where deals like the ones we have been seeing of late leaves a club like , say, Tampa Bay. The Rays have nailed down their young rising stars, like Longoria and Moore, for $$$ the exact opposite of these mega deals. Have they misread the trends? Do they compete in the future? Do they pull out of Tampa Bay?

    Where do mid- to small-market clubs set up their tents if a TV market as large as Tampa Bay isn’t competitive even with Cincinnati, let alone Los Angeles, New York and Boston? We could include a dozen clubs in this category — i.e. San Diego, Oakland, Kansas City, etc.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  51. Psst says:

    Does anyone else feel like this TV/Revenue sharing money has made these teams act like a fantasy auction draft budget was increased by $20 dollars at the last minute? that instead of spreading it out across all positions inevitably some guy is going to buy Tulo for $60

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  52. Ender says:

    Personally I think you came to the opposite conclusion that I would. This deal is going to make it really hard for the Reds to stay competitive long term because they won’t be able to afford any of their other young talent.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Snowblind says:

      “Affordability” doesn’t matter to a motivated team ownership with a team in a major market, not anymore. The monopoly money thrown around for Pujols and Fielder, and now Votto, shows it. There is no such thing as not having enough payroll, unless the ownership is in a small market, stingy, or Dodgers-style fraudulent.

      Money should be no object for most major league teams.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  53. Franco says:

    The only way these offseason deals make sense is if the Owners are thinking we’re going to see a big short term spike in inflation (~10%) followed by a very slow return to normal inflation rates.

    So, the Reds wanted to lock him in before any signs of it might pop up before 2 seasons from now. It sounds crazy, but it’s better than everyone thinks their club is worth a billion and new TV deals.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  54. mdccclxix says:

    Chicago has Theo and is clearing cash. They were to be ready for Votto in 2014. St. Louis has room now, they were perhaps hiding in the bush for Votto in 2014. Those two teams, along with your Toronto, LAD, and NY mix of teams, were causing some paranoia. I hadn’t seen that mentioned as justification yet. Votto in Chicago or St. Louis would have been a total crusher.

    Also, Cincinnati really enjoyed the way things were before FA. Lots of people still can recall the 70′s and the mid 80′s-90′s teams that were lead by Rose, Perez, Davey, Morgan, Larkin, Davis, etc. 3 championships in 15 years. Star power with staying power.

    Those players may not have all stayed in Cincinnati their whole careers, but some did, and they were all stamped as Reds for life. They have been brought back around the franchise by local owner Castillini a lot over the last few years. So, I think Reds fans will always see this Votto signing as a commitment more meaningful than what will take place on the field in 2018+. Votto will always have the wishbone C on his hat.

    He is, as of now, the best Reds hitter ever in some measures, so if he does play well for another 7-8 years he will be a lock as an all time great, with a shot to be called the greatest.

    Although many have thought it better for the Reds to become like the Rays or Marlins, they have never wanted to go that far, perhaps they know it’s not what most Reds fans want, or regard their team as.

    So, in all, this is a commitment and a signal to the fans as much as anything else. The Castellini group has showed over and over they are committed to the fans and the team. As a result, I think this will end well.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  55. craigtyle says:

    It seems like this is motivated by a sense that, in order to generate revenue, there are factors besides wins.

    One is having a “face” of the franchise. Fans want some level of continuity; it’s not just, as Jerry Seinfeld put it, “cheering for the laundry.” (As a Yankee fan, I’m reminded of those who felt, when Jeter’s contract was up, that they should let him walk and try to sign Reyes. That might have made sense on a WAR analysis, but the ownership likely felt it would harm the franchise, and I think they were correct.)

    Baseball is entertainment. There’s a reason why TV series don’t begin each season with a new cast of actors and actresses, even though it might be cheaper for them to do so. (I realize there’s a difference, as sports are less “character-based.” But there is an element in which personality is important to baseball as well. Votto — as well as Jeter, Mauer, Braun, etc. — are not just seen by fans when they’re on the field. They’re on the pre- and post-game shows; they’re in the newspaper; they’re doing ads for local businesses, etc., etc.)

    Second, related to the first, is sending a signal to the fanbase that the team is not “second-tier” — it’s not going to develop players only to send them on (like the A’s, for example). That also, I suspect, is seen as important in securing future revenue.

    The owners may be wrong — winning is the most important controllable variable in producing revenue. The question is how much does this other stuff matter.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  56. Steve says:

    As far as signing extensions years before FA, I’d have thought Tulo was the most relevant comp.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  57. L.UZR says:

    Votto’s career arc looks a lot like Helton’s. Hmm.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  58. Tim says:

    Well Dave, to me this only shows that overpaying for Fielder this last off-season would still have been worth it for the Ms. Free agents of superstar caliber like him and Votto are looking more and more unlikely to actually hit free agency. Their team will lock them up before that happens. Yes, growing your own superstars is the other option, so let’s hope Jack Z turns out to be stellar at that because it may end up being the only route Seattle has.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Snowblind says:

      Votto is more likely to be more versatile and healthier than Fielder, so saying no to Fielder at what the Tigers paid for him, was absolutely the right way to go.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  59. gposner says:

    WHO?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  60. tz says:

    One consequence of a higher % of stars getting locked up before free agency – the pool of potential free agents becomes weaker, meaning that the best available player could be pretty mediocre. The closest thing to this that I can recall was when the top two free agents were Bobby Bonilla and Danny Tartabull, and each pulled in salaries near the major-league high even though nobody would really consider either of them to be a top 50 player at the time.

    And if this happens, this would only increase the inflation spiral further….

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • vivalajeter says:

      Are you sure they weren’t considered top 50 players back then? I was only around 12 or 13 years old at the time, but I remember thinking both of them were great.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  61. s says:

    “And if this happens, this would only increase the inflation spiral further….”

    Well the bar has been set for the upper echelon of players, but I’m really curious to see if the projected increase in TV revenues is enough to offset the cost of these monstrous deals. The risk of these deals too is just ludicrous. The time will come when a player signed to such a deal is injured long-term, and a small-market team who bet everything on the TV revenues is going to be out 200+mil and a star player. What will they have left then?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  62. pft says:

    Let me get this right, the Reds are getting 10 million a year for their TV deal until 2016. In 2017, as a small market team, they may get what the Padres got, which is 30 million a year, and they decided to give all of the increase to 1 player.

    Don’t think thats the whole story.

    As a beneficiary of revenue sharing, they may be counting on huge increases in revenue sharing from teams like the Rangers, Angels and Dodgers due to their huge TV deals.

    They may also think Vottos price is only going to go up given the huge contracts to Fielder and Pujols before the Dodgers deal, and it’s best to sign him now.

    The new CBA effectively keeps the Yankees, Red Sox and Yankees on the sidelines when it comes to new 200+ million dollar deals, so that should act to suppress prices as they hope to keep salaries under the tax threshold to collect some revenue sharing rebates from revenue sharing that used to go to larger market teams.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • s says:

      That may very well be true with respect to the new network tv deals, but that just means the average player’s annual salary is going to go way up. The upper echelon of contracts has been set for the most part, but the amount of teams that can afford those sorts of contracts has increased to pretty much the entire league. So when the Fielders, Pujols, and Vottos of the league are locked up, the best available free agents are going to be the only fixes for teams and they’re going to be able to demand more money.

      This does make sense for the argument of locking up Votto 2 years before he’s eligible for free agency, but I don’t think a 10 year extension was necessary. 6-8 years would’ve probably been more then enough. Of course I’m just speculating, but it does seem as though we’ve entered a new era for contracts and what players can expect to make.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • pft says:

        I don’t think the average players salary goes up. The supply demand equation has not changed, however, elite players have always been in short supply, but most teams did not have the money or incentive to spend, so it should go up for them.

        Especially with the extra WC spot which means teams can target fewer W’s and still have hope to make the playoffs.

        The other overlooked thing is the surplus value the reds received from Votto. Assuming 12 WAR the next 2 years, Votto would have delivered 153 million and received 33 million, or 120 million surplus banked by the Reds, some of which could be applied to a new contract.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  63. Hal says:

    These insane contracts the last could years to Votto, Fielder, Pujols, Kemp, Crawford, Werth and Lee have made one thing clear: The Yankees are ruining baseball.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  64. judy says:

    why did they give votto a contract now his contract isnt up for 2 years and lock up brandon his contract is up this year.they wont find a better 2baseman plus bp and votto fill the seats not just votto.there is some unhappy people ouy here.and i thout the gm was smart

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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