Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 4/2/12

The Cincinnati Reds are reportedly extremely close to signing first baseman Joey Votto to an extension that could cost the team upwards of $200 million, reports Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors. 

I can only assume the deal would be similarly structed to the nine year, $214 million contract signed by Prince Fielder this offseason as opposed to Albert Pujols's ten year, $240 million deal that was also signed this offseason. Votto is currently under contract until the 2013 season for a total of $26.5 million. 

Votto, the 2010 NL MVP, has been one of the league's best players in recent years. Over his last four seasons, Votto has totaled 22.9 fWAR, the sixth highest mark in baseball over that time period. Votto's .408 wOBA over the last four seasons ranks third behind Pujols and Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers, now at third base.

One possible downside of giving Votto this extension is the same that holds true for any long-term extension being handed out: he's currently in his prime, and the deal will take him through his decline years. Votto will spend this season as a 28 year old, and his current contract takes him through his age 29 season. If the Reds tack nine years onto the end of that deal, they'll be paying him until he's 38, and I doubt he'll be producing six win seasons at that age. But the gamble is worth taking, especially in the NL Central where a pair of star first basemen have left their teams in recent months.

The Reds haven't had a face of their franchise like Votto since the largely failed Ken Griffey Jr experiment. Injuries crippled Griffey once he joined the Reds, and he was a shell of the player he once was. The last dominant franchise player the Reds had was 2012 Hall of Fame inductee Barry Larkin, who was a very different player from Votto. An extension for him would have more than just on-field dividends, but the length and total money of the deal still scares me.

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