What does Joey Votto’s massive contract extension mean for the Reds?


The Reds locked up the 2010 NL MVP long term. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Young prospect develops in team’s system. Prospect breaks out when he gets regular playing time with the big league club. Prospect becomes an All-Star, lifting the playoff hopes of both team and city. All-Star becomes one of the best in the game at his position. Team can no longer afford to keep All-Star and deals him to another team before the trade deadline or after the season. All-Star becomes a free agent and signs a massive long-term deal with a big-market team.

From Mark Teixeira to Roy Halladay to just about every Oakland Athletics star in the Billy Beane era, this happens on a yearly basis in Major League Baseball.

Well, it appears the Cincinnati Reds have decided to buck the trend.

The Reds signed All-Star first baseman Joey Votto to a 10-year, $225 million deal that will keep one of the game’s best young hitters in Cincinnati through 2023, according to reports from ESPN and USA Today. Votto will also receive a full no-trade clause, according More importantly, the contract signals a dedication to building around Votto and not letting homegrown talent leave for another ballclub.

But what does investing that much money in a single player mean for the Reds?

The 28-year-old Votto followed up his 2010 National League MVP campaign with a 28 home runs, 103 RBIs and a .309 average last season — a year in which the Reds’ payroll was $75,947,134 — good for 19th in the majors. Their average player salary was $2,531,571.


Cain cashed in with the Giants. (Ben Margot/AP)

So the Reds went all in on Votto, banking on his health and continued production and the allure he’ll provide for fans and future free agents. Cincinnati also expects to have a fat new television contract in place in the next four years, which should boost payroll constraints.

“If they’re even talking about it, to have it get this far in talks, shows a huge commitment from ownership,” Reds outfielder Jay Bruce told the Cincinnati Enquirer when asked about the potential deal on Monday. “Joey is a cornerstone player. The fact that he’s interested in staying shows that he thinks the team is committed to winning.”

Coupled with San Francisco’s move to sign All-Star pitcher Matt Cain to a six-year, $127.5 million contract on Monday — the largest ever for a right-handed pitcher — the Votto deal bookended an offseason marked by record-breaking contracts and long-term investments in stars.

Now the Reds have to hope their investment in Votto pays off.

Follow us: @MattBrooksWP | @CindyBoren

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Matt Brooks is the high school sports editor for The Washington Post. He's an Arlington native and longtime District resident and was previously a high school sports reporter, editor for several blogs and Early Lead contributor with The Post.

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