Previously, I expressed my disapproval of the Joey Votto's contract extension. I just failed to see any appreciable value in it for the Reds. It makes a lot of sense for Joey Votto, but the Reds failure to buy out even a single free agent year makes it a poor one for the organization. And, interestingly enough, Theo Epstein would seem to agree:
"Our philosophy, which is actually a policy in writing, is if we're going to sign arbitration-eligible players long term, we have to get one free agent year and we have to get an option for the club. Because we're giving the player certainty. We need to be able get some of those prime years back in exchange. That makes it a fair bargain. We got that with (Kevin) Youkilis. We got that with (Dustin) Pedroia. We got that with (Jon) Lester. Those players decided to give us that flexibility in exchange for security. If players don't want to do that, that's fine with us. We'll just treat them accordingly, year to year."
Epstein's opinion is more in line with my feelings on the extension. It's interesting to note that they believe so strongly in the policy that they actually put it in writing. Not sure what type of writing that would be, but I'd love to read it. Now, there are many ways to run an organization and it must be pointed out that the Reds and Red Sox aren't identically situated. Maybe the revenue disparity between Boston and Cincinnati means that the Reds need to use different policies in regard to contract extensions. Maybe there is a rational financial basis for the Reds more heavily weighing the value of payroll savings than do the high revenue Red Sox. Personally, I tend to doubt it. I still don't see the potential cost savings as outweighing the injury/performance risk that the organization incurred.
Any discussion of the best run MLB franchises necessarily includes the Red Sox along with the Twins, Braves, Phillies, and Rays. So, when one of those franchises does something, it's worth taking note. Walt Jocketty has undoubtedly done some real nice things during his tenure as the Cincinnati GM, but I still struggle to see the value to the organization of the Votto extension. The Jay Bruce extension was a very strong move for the organization, but it might have been better for them to go year-to-year with Votto.