The Cincinnati Reds have gained a lot of attention with the recent extension of All Star 1B Joey Votto. There's been complaints that the Reds paid too much to keep their franchise player, at 10 years, $225 million. While that is up for debate, it seems like its some sour grapes on the part of some critics. These are the same people who write the stories about the "rich getting richer" when a Votto type signs with a high market team, for probably the same contract. It is great for the game to see teams retaining their own players.
The Reds also extended 2B Brandon Phillips to a 6 year, $72.5 million deal and in 2010, extended OF Jay Bruce for 6 years and $51 million. Johnny Cueto is making $10 million in 2014 and Aroldis Chapman will be getting paid $5.7 million. LHP Sean Marshall signed an extension that will pay him $6.5 million in 2015. In addition, recently acquired RHP Mat Latos is likely to be extended long term as long as he is healthy due to the quality of the package of prospects the Reds traded to the Padres to land him. Though the Reds are expected to have a higher payroll over the next several years, at least they have chosen to retain their core of players that they worked hard to develop and trade for. Thats the price to pay when your prospects become superstars. It would be better for the game if all other teams did the same thing.
The San Francisco Giants recently extended RHP Matt Cain to a 5 year deal, worth about $112.5 million. Yesterday, it was announced that LHP Madison Bumgarner signed a 5 year extension, worth $35 million in guaranteed money and a couple of team options that will keep him through a couple of his free agency years. They have also reached out to RHP Tim Lincecum and C Buster Posey and have had some discussion about extending them also. These deals should get done since after 2013, they will not have to pay LHP Barry Zito $20+ million. (Though there is a buyout for 2014.) 3B Pablo Sandoval will be making $8.25 million in 2014 and could be extended beyond that, assuming he becomes what is expected.
There is no question the Giants are going to be a top payroll team of the future. While teams like the Yankees and Red Sox are not adding to what they have, the Giants will continue to extend their core players, something that should be done. If guys like Melky Cabrera and Ryan Vogelsong can repeat their 2011 seasons, they could be in the market to be extended also. Factor in prospects like SS Brandon Crawford and 1B Brandon Belt and minor league CF Gary Brown who will become major league contributors for the Giants over the next couple years, and that may be more money the team may be looking to use to keep the team as it is.
The new ownership group in LA bought the Dodgers for $2 billion. While that could be a sign that the Dodgers will be looking to add big money free agents over the next couple of years, team president Stan Kasten has been known to want to build a team through a farm. The only thing is, with stars like CF Matt Kemp and LHP Clayton Kershaw, they shouldn't have to waste the next five years. Kemp got his 8 year, $160 million extension and Kershaw should be next, coming off his first Cy Young Award last season. While the Dodgers have to be considered favorites for LHP Cole Hamels if he becomes a free agent, they will have to make some decisions on players like 1B James Loney, RF Andre Ethier and RHP Chad Billingsley, though the latter is signed through 2014 at $12 million. Javy Guerra looks like he could be the closer of the future and within a year, both he and SS Dee Gordon could be looking for extensions.
The Giants, Dodgers and Reds could be among the next group of teams to move up the payroll ladder. The Giants have already made their move, and have joined the Angels and Tigers approaching the Phillies, Red Sox and Yankees. Other team will eventually move up as well. The Pirates extended CF Andrew McCutchen and the Padres did the same to CF Cameron Maybin. The Cubs will extend SS Starlin Castro and the Mariners will eventually extend 2B Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero when they become stars. Regardless of what some have said about these contracts, I believe this is the best thing to happen to Major League Baseball in a long time. I love the parity and it is great knowing there are so many different possibilities when it comes to essembling a postseason.