Report: Reds, Joey Votto agree to 10-year, $225 million deal

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Update: It’s a 10-year, $225 million extension, according to USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale. It doesn’t replace Votto’s current contract, so it will run from 2014-2023.

If the story is true, it’s the fourth biggest contract of all-time, surpassing Prince Fielder’s deal with the Tigers. Alex Rodriguez holds the top two places on the list, with Albert Pujols’ new $240 million deal in third place.

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Joey Votto is under contract for $9.5 million this season and $17 million next season as part of an extension signed last winter, but Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors reports that the Reds are close to signing the former MVP to a significantly longer extension.

According to Dierkes the new extension “could surpass $200 million” in total value, although the length and salary details aren’t known yet.

This offseason Prince Fielder, who’s 27 years old, signed a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers and Albert Pujols, who’s 32 years old, inked a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Angels. Votto is 28 years old and has been every bit as productive as Fielder and Pujols during the past three seasons, hitting .318 with a .983 OPS during that time while leading the league in OPS in 2010 and on-base percentage in both 2010 and 2011.

This could mean the end of Brandon Phillips’ time in Cincinnati, as it’s hard to see the Reds having the money to keep the impending free agent second baseman around beyond this season if they’re throwing $200 million at Votto.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.