An outstanding first baseman does not come cheap. You heard me right!
A cursory look at recent deals will lend credence to what I just wrote. In the past four years, no fewer than six big-name first basemen have signed mega-contracts, ranging in value from $125 million to $240 million. That is huge money—even when you are talking millionaire baseball players.
Joey Votto will be the next elite first baseman to enter the baseball price war. However, that officially will not occur until after the 2013 season. Votto is due to be paid $9.5 million this season and it will balloon to $17 million in 2013.
The Cincinnati Reds are not compatible with uber-salaries or winning price wars. They are a small-market club and will find it very difficult to keep the 2010 MVP in the Queen City. Owner Bob Castellini will feel like a boa constrictor has wrapped itself around his checkbook when that time comes.
According to Reds GM, Walt Jocketty, talks with the Canadian-born All-Star have yet to begin.
What do all of the six signings mentioned earlier have to do with Votto? After all, he is still stationed in Cincinnati until after the '13 season. Even though Votto isn't quite the iconic player that Albert Pujols is, he is still at least on par with, or above Prince Fielder. Yes?
Pujols is a hitting machine with three MVP awards and a Rookie of the Year award as well. Votto has won one MVP award and Fielder has not.
Here is a comparable look at the trio:
Statistical Comparison for Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Prince Fielder.
Pujols is 32 and just signed a bank-busting $240 million contract that will keep him in Anaheim until he is 42. It would seem that would do it for his negotiating career, wouldn't you think?
Fielder, 27, just signed a $214 million deal that will keep him in Motown until he is 36, leaving possibly more time for deals later.
Votto will be 30 when his contract will expire. How much will he want? What will his value be? I'll tell you how much. Whatever the market will bear.
Just like card collecting, auctions or other memorabilia exchanges, something may be worth $500K, but if nobody can or will pay for it, it is a moot point.
Would it be in the best interest of the Reds' brain trust to attempt to negotiate with their prize possession now? We are looking at a whole bunch of money, not to mention the two years owed to him already.
Will Votto's contract be extended before it expires in 2013?
How about Votto? Do you think he would want to ink a new deal now, realizing he could build a stairway to heaven in two years? Maybe he can and maybe he can't.
If Votto would have a bad year or two, how far down would his value go? If he would appear to be a $20 million-per-year man right now, and batted .270 or so and only hit 20 HR each of the next two years, what price tag would you put on him then?
This is just food for thought. Keep in mind he is already due to be paid $17 million next season, so what is it worth Mr. Castellini?
Adam Dunn signed a huge deal with the White Sox in 2011. He received $12 million last year and batted .159 with 11 HR and 42 RBI. He is guaranteed $44 million for the next three years, whether he hits or not. That is good money and I don't care who you are.
Looking at Dunn's portfolio as a benchmark, it could very well entice the young man to listen to what is being said.
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Reds would probably have to offer Votto $187 million-plus to keep the slugger in town until he is 36. Again, that is huge money for the Reds and they will be digging farther down the well than they have before.
Can they do it?
Follow me on Twitter
Read more on my MLB blog