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.