UPDATE: A three-year, $38 million contract extension was agreed to on Sunday afternoon.
Reds first baseman Joey Votto qualifies for arbitration this winter for the first time in his major league career. But he may never actually have to face an arbitration hearing.
The slugger is in line for a massive raise from the $550,000 salary that he pulled in last season while capturing National League MVP honors, so the Reds are being proactive in the month or so before spring training and are looking into signing him to a multi-year contract extension, according to SI.com’s Jon Heyman.
The Reds could simply give Votto a three-year deal that would cover all of his arbitration eligible seasons and keep him in Cincy through 2013 at a fairly bargain rate — something like $37 million. Or they could pony up even more and buy out some of his free agent years, albeit at a higher overall price tag.
The 27-year-old has all of the leverage in the world this offseason after posting a scorching .324/.424/.600 batting line, 37 home runs and 113 RBI in 2010, but there’s little doubt that he is going to be highly productive for at least the next several seasons. The Reds may save themselves some cash in the long run (and the pain of possibly losing Votto to free agency) by getting a big extension worked out this winter.
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.