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Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in ,

I supposed you all want to know my thoughts on the Joey Votto contract, right?

On one hand, I am excited that the Reds have locked up the best player I have seen in a Reds uniform since Barry Larkin (yes, I know Ken Griffey Jr was a Red, but he was much better as a Mariner) for the next twelve years. This contract probably means that Votto will spend the entirety of his career, a possible Hall-of-Fame career, in the Queen City. We haven't seen that since the aforementioned Mr. Larkin.

On the other hand, it means that Votto will spend his entire career with the Reds, so the team will be spending in the neighborhood of $25 million to a 39-year-old first baseman come the year 2022. That sort of contract can cripple a small-market team with little revenue streams.

But who knows what player salaries will look like ten years from now? It's entirely possible that $25 million per year then will seem like $4 million now, and $4 million could be the league minimum. This could turn out to be a bargain, or a fairly priced deal.

I'm not ashamed to admit it: part of me is really glad for the deal because it represents a giant upraised middle finger to the fans in Toronto, Los Angeles and anywhere else that was all but measuring Votto for their team's uniform in time for the start of the 2014 season. Instead, thanks to his new contract and full no-trade clause (which is effectively moot thanks to the 10-and-5 rights that Votto will earn in a couple of years), we'll see Votto in red and white for a long, long time.

Why would Votto take the extension? Well, frankly, it's for as much money as he probably could have gotten in free agency, or at least near enough as makes no difference. So that takes money effectively out of the equation. I believe the answer lies in a quote that Votto said to John Fay, the Reds' beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Here I am about to sign a $200 million extension," Votto said, "and the only media I have to answer to is you."

That's a big part of it. I grew up in Cincinnati and Raleigh, two cities with the same distinction: they are each among the smallest cities in major professional sports. The result is that the Reds (and the Hurricanes in Raleigh) absolutely own the town. To be a Cincinnati Red is to be loved by the fans (as long as you don't make an ass out of yourself). Joey Votto may be a Toronto native, and he may be one of the best first basemen in the game today, but if he were to have signed with the Blue Jays, as good as he is, and as a Torontonian he may be, he still be behind 21 Maple Leafs in the city pecking order. And while Votto might have movie star good looks, in Los Angeles he would have had to compete with actual movie stars. Not to mention that it's tough to stand out when the team owner is still the city's favorite athlete. I don't know if being "The Man" is an important consideration for Votto, but that quote clearly shows that he knows the situation in the Queen City.

All in all, I was stoked when I got the alert on my phone yesterday morning that said "Votto, Reds near extension." And it didn't take long for the next update to flash across saying that the deal was done. While the numbers seemed incredible at first (after all, there's only been four $200 million contract in history, and I never would have thought the Reds would agree to one of them), the Votto deal shows that Bob Castellini and Reds management are willing to do what it takes to win. I can't ever imagine Carl Lindner agreeing to such a deal, for example. It's no coincidence that his ownership was a fallow time for the Reds.

One thing that has been mentioned a bit, but not enough in my opinion, is the effect this extension has on Brandon Phillips and his negotiations. These now appear to have broken down, and there's a good chance that he could leave after this season. While that would be sad, if forced to choose between Votto and Phillips, I'd pick Votto, ten times out of ten. The Reds got their man, and I for one am glad of it.

Comments (1)

    I'm excited! I think Walt is serious when he says that he wants to win and he's spending money to back up his words. It's nice to have an owner that cares about putting a winning team on the field rather than worrying about how much profit they can make. No reason why they shouldn't win the National League Central this year.