By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
April 6, 2012
The Cincinnati Reds last week committed $225 million over 10 years to first baseman Joey Votto. The deal is the fourth-largest contract in MLB history, the third $200 million deal given this year, and only the fifth $200 million contract in MLB history. Unlike the contracts given this offseason to Albert Pujols by Los Angeles and Prince Fielder by Detroit, the relatively small-market Reds offered Votto’s deal. So, does this indicate a major revolution in the economics of baseball?
It’s too early to tell. Many baseball contracts are back-loaded. In Votto’s case, even though his extension averages $22.5 million a year, he won’t even be making $20 million a season until 2017. Likewise, Pujols’ Angels deal will be paying him $30 million when he’s 41 years old. Try to name one 41-year-old player worth half that much money. While it’s easy to point to an increase of local TV revenue as the reason for such lucrative contracts, the real concern is how financially stable teams will be at the end of these deals.