Could you imagine waking up in the morning and someone saying, "You are going to sign a 10-year, $225 million contract today?" I sure as heck can't and I am sure when current Cincinnati Reds 1B Joey Votto was growing up, he couldn't imagine that either.
But Votto is a grown man now and a grown man who can flat out play baseball. Today, the Reds rewarded Votto for his play the past couple of seasons.
As reported earlier, the Reds have signed Votto to a 10-year, $225 million contract that will kick in after the 2013 season and run until 2023. It's the fourth richest contract in Major League Baseball history.
I don't mind the average annual salary on this deal. $22.5 million a year for a player of Votto's caliber isn't outlandish. Look at the other hitters who are making over $20 million a year -- Prince Fielder ($23,777,778), Ryan Braun ($21,000,000), Ryan Howard ($25,000,000), Albert Pujols ($24,000,000), Mark Teixeira ($22,500,000), Adrian Gonzalez ($22,000,000), Matt Kemp ($20,000,000), and Carl Crawford ($20,285,714). Put Votto's numbers over the past two seasons up against any of those guys and Votto is right there with all of them.
As a matter of fact, Votto has a higher WAR (15.2) over the past two seasons than any of the players mentioned above. That's impressive.
The only issue I have with this deal is the length. When are GMs of any sport going to realize that any contract length that has double digits in it is not a good idea? This contract is going to take Votto to his 40th birthday. I am no scientist and I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn last night, but I am going to guess Votto won't be a $22.5 million a year player when he is 40.
Paying a veteran a princely sum when he is in his decline years is not the best way to operate a business. See: Todd Helton in Colorado.
The other thing we have to consider is how this is going to effect the Reds moving forward? The Reds have never been known to have deep pockets and are considered a mid-market team. Their 2011 payroll was around $80 million. That was middle of the pack in baseball. Unless they plan on doubling the price of Skyline Chili at the Great American Ballpark, I have a hard time seeing the Reds signing their current players to market contracts and free agents as well.
In order for the Reds to be successful moving forward with Votto taking up 30 percent of their payroll, they are going to have to develop their own players. It's a must. They won't be able to sign major free agents with the money they have tied up into Votto.
The Reds are certainly taking a risk with this contract, but are betting that they will have a good enough team to win in Votto's prime years. Not a bad thought process, but if they don't win in the next four to five years, this contract is going to look not so hot in 2021.
*Player salaries and Reds' team payroll was provided by Cot's Baseball Contracts.