In a year in which nine-figure deals became unsurprising to hear in breaking news columns and contract extensions were given out like they were samples of cheese at a grocery store, you would think the reigning National League Most Valuable Player award winner would receive more than $38 million over three years, wouldn't you?
Recently, Ryan Howard, first baseman of the Phillies, signed a 5 year, $125 million extension with the Phillies at age 31. Don't you think Joey Votto, 27 years old, should be rewarded as well as Howard was? Granted, Howard's contract was on the absurd side, yet even still, it seems like Cincinnati got away with this one.
If we do a comparison of Joey Votto's statistics versus those of Ryan Howard between the years 2008-2010, here is what we get:
Votto: .314 Batting Average, 86 Home Runs, 281 Runs Batted In, 27 Stolen Bases, 257 Runs
Howard: .269 Batting Average, 124 Home Runs, 395 Runs Batted In, 10 Stolen Bases, 297 Runs
If you take into account the power differential and the batting average differential, the two are very comparable.
However, it is clear that Votto is a more efficient fielder based on UZR (1.6 versus -12.6 in 2010). Also, Votto has a higher WAR (Wins Above Replacement) than Howard. In the last three years, the sum of Votto's WARs has been 16.0, compared to Howard's 9.9.
In conclusion, Votto should have received a contract similar to that of Ryan Howard. Even if you were to toss Howard's contract out the window and call it a fluke, there are many other comparisons you can make to display that Votto got the short end of the stick in this deal.
This off-season, Adam Dunn earned a $56 million contract over four years. Aubrey Huff signed for two years at $11 million per year. In other positions, Jayson Werth signed a seven-year contract worth $126 million and Derek Jeter signed a three-year deal totaling $51 million.
Joey Votto is more talented than all of those players, and he has age on his side. So why did he only get three years worth $38 million?
Alex Rodriguez had no problem cashing in, neither did Mark Teixeira.
Troy Tulowitzki just signed an extension that will pay him $157.75 million over the next ten years.
Looking at Votto's deal, there are a few upsides for Votto. Three years down the road, Votto should be around his prime or slightly past it, but still producing MVP-esque numbers. At that point, he will be able to demand a huge nine-figure contract that will have him earning eight figures until he's around 37.
So it does make sense for Votto in some regard, but you still have to pat the Reds on the back for keeping their top player at a good price relative to other deals around the league.
This deal shows that the Reds are planning to win now, and they do not plan on throwing their fantastic 2010 finish out as a fluke. They are telling the league that they are ready to compete. This off-season, they have also added Edgar Renteria and Jeremy Hermida at low costs to help with any depth issues.
Given their young talent, the Reds have to be considered among the favorites in the National League.