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.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY reports that the Mariners have received “strong” trade interest for starter Taijuan Walker. The right-hander is currently on the mend from tendinitis in his right foot. He’ll throw a bullpen on Friday at Wrigley Field with scouts in attendance.
Walker, 23, has a 3.66 ERA with an 80/18 K/BB ratio in 86 innings this season. It’s his first bit of sustained success at the major league level. What’s arguably just as intriguing is the fact that Walker will be under team control through 2020.
The Mariners have been hovering around .500 for the last month and entered Thursday six games behind the first-place Rangers in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot, behind three other teams as well as the two Wild Card leaders. It’s enough uncertainty which could push the Mariners to sell.
On Monday, we learned that the Mets offered to swap catchers with the Brewers, Travis d'Arnaud for Jonathan Lucroy. The Brewers, as expected, turned that down. The two still continue to discuss a trade involving Lucroy, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports.
The Mets certainly could use some help at catcher. The club has gotten an aggregate .608 OPS from their backstops, the fourth-lowest mark in baseball, ahead of only the Pirates, Rays, and Indians. However, the Mets seem to be behind other teams — including a “mystery” team — in the bidding, according to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball.
Lucroy, who took Thursday off, is batting .300/.361/.486 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI in 371 plate appearances for the Brewers this season. He can become a free agent after the season if his controlling club opts against picking up his $5.25 million option for the 2017 season.