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Votto agrees to $251.5m contract

CINCINNATI (AP) ― Joey Votto got a big payday by staying in a small market, agreeing to a $251.5 million, 12-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday that is the longest guaranteed contract in major league history.

The agreement adds $225 million over 10 years to his previous contract. The deal includes a club option for 2024, when the 2010 National League MVP turns 41.

After watching NL Central rivals St. Louis and Milwaukee lose their first basemen to bigger markets, the Reds secured Votto with a package that easily eclipsed Ken Griffey Jr.’s $116.5 million, nine-year deal from 2000 as the largest in franchise history. In the majors, it trails only Alex Rodriguez’s $275 million and $252 million deals, both over 10 years.

“Is it risky?” said owner Bob Castellini, who sought a lot of outside advice before signing off on the deal. “No doubt. That’s the environment we live in, especially as a small market. We feel Joe will be a cornerstone.”

It wasn’t an easy decision for the 28-year-old Votto to make such a long-term commitment. He decided he had found contentment in Cincinnati, which took him in the second round of the 2002 amateur draft.

“Maybe I could have found that elsewhere,” Votto said. “Maybe not. But I like what I’ve got here.”
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