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Votto not rushing talk of long-term deal

Votto not rushing talk of long-term deal

CINCINNATI -- When Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki signed a contract this week to keep him in Colorado for the next 10 years, Reds first baseman Joey Votto couldn't believe it.

Arbitration eligible for the first time and the reigning National League MVP, Votto could soon have to consider whether he wants to make a long-term commitment to the Reds. It was certainly not an answer he was ready to provide on Saturday after his arrival to Redsfest at the Duke Energy Center.

"I don't know as far as beyond three years," Votto said. "I think it's a real unfair question to ask. This is not me saying I don't want to be here. But last year was a difficult year for me. This year was a better year for me. It's really hard for me to think three years ahead, five years ahead, seven years ahead or 10 years ahead."

Tulowitzki had three years left on his current contract but signed a seven-year extension worth $134 million.

"When Tulowitzki signed that 10-year contract, I was blown away," Votto said. "I can't imagine seeing myself 10 years from now saying, 'I want to be here.' It's an overwhelming thing to ask a young person like myself and say, 'Here's a lot of money. Be happy with this over 10 years, deal with it.'"

Whether it's for one year to avoid arbitration or a multi-year deal, it is definitely clear that Votto will be paid very handsomely. He made $525,000 in 2010 while he was an offensive juggernaut.

"It could be one year. It could be eleventy-bagillion years. It doesn't matter," Votto said. "The point is they want me on the team. That's a compliment in and of itself. I know I won the MVP but to have a Major League contract when it comes time, that's a huge compliment. I consider that an accomplishment."

Votto, 27, batted .324 with 37 home runs and 113 RBIs -- all ranked the top three of the NL. He led the league in slugging percentage (.600) and on-base percentage (.424). He received 31 of a possible 32 first-place votes to win the MVP honors over Albert Pujols, who was seeking his third straight trophy and fourth overall.

"I don't think it's necessarily sunk in," Votto said. "It takes time to really mean something. I've spoken to Scott Rolen about stuff and other players. It takes a long time for that stuff to digest."

With the Reds coming off of an NL Central championship and having several young players on the roster, the club is trying to position itself for being long-term contenders. At the center of that is certainly Votto, but also other players like Jay Bruce, Edinson Volquez, Drew Stubbs and more.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said earlier this week that preliminary talks had commenced with Votto's agent about a contract, likely the multi-year type. But formally, the Reds have only tendered an initial offer as stipulated by a Thursday deadline to offer 2011 contracts to all unsigned players.

If the Reds aren't able to reach agreement on a contract with Votto, it's possible the two sides could go to arbitration in February. Votto wasn't placing any timetables on when something needed to get done.

"I wouldn't let contract talks interrupt my life," Votto said. "It's inevitable that I am going to have some sort of contract in the future. Whether it's one year or whatever years, I'm not going to let that interrupt not only my free time, but also my training in the offseason. It certainly won't affect my game. When you caught up in the hype and all the stuff and everything, that's when you get into trouble. I'm not going to let that happen.

"It's an inevitable thing. You might as well accept it. The way you frame it and the perspective you have on something like this is the way you're going to handle it. My approach is it's money. It's fine. It's years. It's fine. At the same time, I enjoy my craft. I love what I do. I enjoy winning. Those are the primary things when it comes to my career -- not necessarily money. The money is going to follow."

Do not mistake that for Votto saying he will take a lower offer or any hometown discounts to remain in Cincinnati for the long haul. He appears to have no plans to do that.

"I'm not going to disrespect the people ahead of me that paved the way for those types of earnings and the people behind me that expect a certain amount or fair value," Votto said. "I don't want to hurt the people behind me. That's not fair. I owe it to the generation in front of me to be paid fairly. They worked very hard. They did the strike thing, they held out, there were players that didn't play entire seasons because they wanted to be paid fairly within the concept of our business."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["hot_stove" ] }