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Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds Nearing Blockbuster Contract Extension

Eric Ball@@BigLeagueEballFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2012

GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 25:  Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds poses for a portrait during a photo day at Goodyear Ballpark on February 25, 2012 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
Rich Pilling/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds may be just days away from the 2012 season, but they’re already looking ahead to the future.

Tim Dierkes and Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors are reporting that the team and 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto are “nearing an extension” that would keep him in Cincinnati for much longer than the two years remaining on his current deal.

Cincinnati Enquirer Reds beat writer John Fay confirmed the report:

Votto confirms that an extension is close. "I can't comment till it's done. You'll have to ask Walt. It's a gray area." #reds

— John Fay (@johnfayman) April 2, 2012

This comes as a shocker.

While the terms of the deal are currently unknown, it’s likely that the new deal would be in the $200 million neighborhood alongside Prince Fielder, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols.

The 28-year-old hit 29 home runs, knocked in 103 runs and walked 110 times in 2011, in addition to sporting a .309/.416/.531 line. It was the sort of season that makes sabermetric geeks drool. This comes a year after bringing in the MVP award on a team that made the playoffs for the first time since 1995.

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds bats against the Houston Astros at Great American Ball Park on September 20, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
John Sommers II/Getty Images

Clearly the value of Votto is sky-high and there was little doubt he was going to get paid in a big way by somebody. What’s shocking is that the Reds will be the team that will likely be writing the check.

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The team’s payroll has never exceeded $82 million and the report suggests Votto will likely be raking in over a quarter of that.

It’s a risky move to put so much into one player, but there is no reason to think Votto isn’t worth the price tag. His professionalism, tireless work ethic and lack of holes in his game suggest this is the right move.

For Votto, his soft-spoken personality makes him extremely comfortable in the Queen City and their laid back but die-hard fanbase. Votto would never be comfortable in a big market like Los Angeles.

The only real negative about this potential deal is what now becomes of second baseman Brandon Phillips. The longest tenured player on the club has been the ambassador for the team for the last half-decade. Nobody is more loyal to his team than “Dat Dude.” Playing on a one-year deal, it’s hard to imagine the Gold Glover getting an extension at this point. Expect him to land a large deal of his own with another team at the end of the season.

It’s the price you pay to lock up the franchise player, and now more than ever the pressure is on for the team to win the NL Central and do serious damage in the postseason this year.

For Votto, he gets a chance to show the club why they wanted to make him only the fourth $200 million man in baseball. As long as Phillips doesn’t mope about it and focuses on having a career year heading into free agency, it will be a brilliant move.

The Reds are now officially Joey Votto’s team and that’s a good thing. 

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