13. Cincinnati Reds
Joey Votto is the face of the Cincinnati franchise. Way back in 2013, he signed a 10-year, $225 million extension that remains in force through this season’s end and remains relatively productive.
The Reds are not a rich franchise, a fact verified by the gap between what they pay Votto and what they’ve paid anybody else. A distant No. 2 on the all-time team payroll are Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas, who prior to the 2020 season both signed for identical four-year, $64 million deals.
That’s $159 million less and six years shorter than Votto. Then they lost Castellanos when he opted out after one year and signed instead with the Phillies.
Those are the only three players to have gotten Reds contracts in excess of $50 million. In terms of average annual value, Votto’s deal is also richest, at $22.5 million.
For 2023, Votto and Moustakas will combine to receive $43 million in salary, an amount that projects to be about 60 percent of the team’s total payroll. When 60 percent of payroll is devoted to two older players, that’s a recipe for disaster.
The question is whether such a lopsided commitment to one player, even one of the level of Votto, has hamstrung the Reds. Since that deal was finalized in 2013, the Reds have had just one season with more than 83 victories and that was the first season, 2013. Since then, Cincinnati’s non-Covid season-long average win total under the Votto deal is an uninspired 69.6.