Re: Should the Reds sign Votto long term?
I think the window has really passed for the Reds unless Votto agrees to something pretty significantly under market value. Longoria is the best case example, but I imagine it's too late to do that with Votto. Longoria's deal basically mirrors how his salary would escalate normally, except it's all about 50% of what he probably would have earned if he took it one year at a time. Plus, each of his FA years are team options, so they can opt out pretty easily at relatively little cost if he gets seriously injured or flames out.
11:$2M (arb year 1)
12:$4.5M (arb year 2)
13:$6M (arb year 3)
14:$7.5M club option ($3M buyout) (FA year 1)
15:$11M club option (FA year 2)
16:$11.5M club option (FA year 3)
Each year closer you get to the guy's free agency and the more of a track record he's built, the bigger that % becomes. For Votto, I think you'd need to offer him something like 75% of fair market value based on reasonable or slightly aggressive production projections. And at the point, the savings you'd gain are probably not worth the risk you assume by guaranteeing him that money. You also should consider the availability of certain types of talent. Votto is an excellent player, but I'm not sure he's irreplaceable. Longoria is a potential HOF 3B in no small part because of his defensive talents. He'd be much harder to replace than Votto. Making a financial commitment when you already have him under control without one doesn't strike me as a particularly smart move for a franchise that needs as much payroll flexibility as possible.
Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.