Votto Wins the LottoTuesday, April 03, 2012
Joey Votto doesn't need Mega Millions to hit the jackpot. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Monday that the 28-year-old first baseman has reached agreement with the Reds on a 10-year, $225 million contract extension. While early speculation was that this extension would include the two years and $26.5 million remaining on his existing contract, it actually runs from 2014-2023, which means that Votto is under contract for the next 12 years at the whopping sum of $251.5 million.
Votto is now in some pretty exclusive company, joining Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder as the only players to sign for more than $200 million. It's also the biggest contract ever for someone who wasn't a free agent, topping Derek Jeter's ten-year, $189 million contract with the Yankees back in February of 2001.
This is an absolutely stunning commitment and a huge risk on the part of the Reds, who play in a small-to-medium sized market and set a franchise record last season with a modest payroll of around $81 million. Votto is clearly one of the best players in the sport right now, but with a full no-trade clause, this contract could be a major albatross if he takes up 20 percent of the Reds' payroll through his late-30s.
It's pretty clear that the Reds are banking on the landscape changing in the years ahead, likely in the form of a lucrative new television contract. Their current deal with Fox Sports Ohio is believed to be worth around $10 million per season and runs through 2016.
It will be interesting to see whether the Reds can also afford to keep Brandon Phillips, who is due to become a free agent after the 2012 season. The 30-year-old will almost certainly want something similar to fellow second baseman Dan Uggla, who inked a five-year, $62 million extension with the Braves last offseason. If the Reds let him walk, we may end up seeing the speedy Billy Hamilton at second base before long.
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Cain Gets Paid
Joey Votto wasn't the only prominent player who agreed to a contract extension on Monday. As reported by Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com, the Giants have signed Matt Cain to a five-year, $112.5 million contract extension which could keep him with the club through at least 2017. The deal surpasses Kevin Brown (seven years, $105 million) for the richest contract ever given to a right-handed pitcher.
Cain receives a $5 million signing bonus and will make $20 million per season from 2013-2017. He is already under contract for $15 million this season. The deal also includes a $21 million club/vesting player option for 2018 or a $7.5 million buyout.
Cain's 69-73 career record obscures the fact that he has been one of the most durable pitchers in the game since making his major league debut in 2005. The 27-year-old right-hander has made 30 starts in each of his six full seasons in the majors and has topped 200 innings in each of the last five. His 3.35 ERA is ninth-lowest among active starters and he has made a habit out of outperforming his xFIP, so it's getting pretty difficult to doubt his success.
While locking up Tim Lincecum is next on the agenda for the Giants, Cain's contract has likely set the baseline for what to expect if Cole Hamels and/or Zack Greinke hit the open market this winter.
Bailey Headed For Surgery?
Ryan Boyer went over Andrew Bailey's thumb injury in Monday's Spring Training Daily, but it turns out the situation is more serious than originally thought. According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, surgery was recommended after Bailey was examined Monday in Boston.
Bailey is scheduled to visit with Dr. Thomas Graham on Tuesday in Cleveland for a second opinion and it's possible surgery could be done at that time. We won't know anything about a timetable until then. However, it's safe to rule him out for Opening Day at this point.
Early speculation pegged Alfredo Aceves as a potential replacement for ninth inning duties, but Mark Melancon could also be an option if Bailey needs to miss an extended period of time. Both are worth adding where available.
The Reds made it official Monday, moving Aroldis Chapman back to the bullpen while awarding the final spot in the starting rotation to Homer Bailey. Chapman impressed after being stretched out as a starter this spring, posting a 2.12 ERA and 18/2 K/BB ratio over 17 innings, but Reds manager Dusty Baker would prefer to use him in a set-up role now that Sean Marshall is taking Ryan Madson's place as the closer.
Though not unexpected, this is a frustrating turn of events for Chapman owners. The hard-throwing left-hander should still rack up plenty of strikeouts in the Reds' bullpen, but he's unlikely to have much value in standard mixed leagues unless Marshall struggles or hits the disabled list at some point.
It would be nice to see Chapman get a chance to start eventually, but it's unclear when that might happen. Or if he'll be sent back down to the minors in order to do it. He obviously could be much more valuable as a starter in the long-term, but his previous control problems provide some reason for skepticism. I'd be fine with the decision to move him back to the bullpen if the Reds appeared to have a real plan in place for him. For some reason, it always seems like they are winging it.
Francisco's Ailing Knee
The Mets signed Frank Francisco to a two-year, $12 million contract over the winter to take over the team's closer job, but it's possible he might not be ready for Opening Day. The 32-year-old right-hander had fluid drained from his sore left knee on Sunday and went for an MRI on Monday.
Mets manager Terry Collins admitted Monday that Francisco's knee has been bothering him all spring, which makes sense given his diminished velocity and 5.25 ERA and 7/4 K/BB ratio over 12 innings this spring. Of course, injuries are nothing new with Francisco. He hasn't logged more than 52 2/3 innings in a season since 2008 as a member of the Rangers.
We should know more about Francisco's status on Tuesday, but Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez and Bobby Parnell figure to be in the mix if he needs to begin the season on the disabled list. Parnell is having the best spring of the bunch, but this isn't the best situation for fantasy owners.