Big news out of Cincinnati.
According to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, the Reds reached agreement this afternoon on a three-year, $38 million contract extension with first baseman Joey Votto.
Jon Heyman of SI.com first caught wind of the negotiations this morning and everything is expected to be made official once the slugger passes a physical Monday.
The contract will cover all three of Votto’s arbitration years, and at a pretty decent rate. Ryan Howard was awarded a record $10 million in his first arbitration case back in 2008 and Votto might have topped that if the process went to a hearing this offseason. Then he would top that again in 2012, and then again in 2013. Howard made $44 million total in his first three years of arbitration eligibility with the Phillies.
If the 27-year-old continues to post numbers like he did in 2010, the extension will prove to be a major bargain. And with the way his career has unfolded, there’s no reason to think he won’t.
Reds fans might have preferred that the club lock Votto up for a longer period of time, but there’s no sense in negotiating a long-term extension with a player who carried his amount of leverage. The Reds had him under team control through 2013 anyway and now they simply have him locked in at a set price.
Votto hit .324 for the National League Central champs last season with 37 homers and 113 RBI. He led all National League hitters with a sparkling 1.024 OPS on his way to capturing the National League MVP and he also played plus defense at first base. The Reds are going to be competitors for as long as he’s around.
Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:
Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.
The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?
Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.
The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.
I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: