For four days both sides were close.
So Joey Votto consulted.
He asked teammates Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce for advice.
He talked to former minor league teammate, right-hander Carlos Guevara.
With his mom Wendy in Toronto and his girlfriend Jeanne.
“And then I made the decision on my own,” said Votto Monday night before the Cincinnati Reds opened their series against the St. Louis Cardinals at the Great American Ball Park.
Votto carries two adjectives now: Reds first baseman and the highest-paid Canadian athlete,
“I asked Scott because he’s been through it all and Jay because we’re roughly the same age,” Votto said. “Carlos because we’ve been friends so long. We met in 2008 at (class-A) Billings and I was in his wedding party.
“And my mom, out of respect, and sitting in Toronto she would have a different perspective.”
Agent Dan Lozano hit one out of the park getting a 10-year, $240 million US for free agent Albert Pujols with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at the winter meetings in December.
And he hit this one even further.
The Etobicoke Rangers grad will earn $9.5 million this season — a little over what Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sydney Crosby earns — $17 million in 2013 and then his 10-year, $225-million extension begins.
Read that graph again and see if summer registration in baseball goes up.
OK, this one then:
Votto is set to earn in 2014: $12 million, 2015: $14 million, 2016: $20 million, 17: $22 million and from 2018-2023 $25 million. The Reds have an option on Votto for 2024, when he’s 41.
Humm baby, as San Francisco Giants manager Roger Craig used to say.
“I’ve been through contract talks before,” Votto said. “This was a whole different bowl of soup.”
“Now I know where I’m going to be ... I can concentrate on my craft.”
Most free agents or soon-to-be-free agents gravitate to large-revenue markets of New York or Los Angeles. The small market Reds, 17th in team payroll at $72.4 million last year, kept their homegrown stud at home.
“The city was so excited that Joey is staying,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker. “There was a talk about extending him last year. But talk is cheap, this time they talked, got it done, but this wasn’t cheap.
“He’s a heck of a representative for the club and the city. Now we have to lock up Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce.”
A second-round pick, Votto was the third Canadian chosen in 2002 and has surpassed first rounders Adam Loewen and Jeff Francis.
Rolen is in his 17th season and has been around the block once or twice with the Philadelphia Phillies, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Blue Jays and the Reds.
He said the huge contract won’t change Votto.
“You know he thinks he’s funny, with his dry sense of humour,” said Rolen. “If he had any sense of humour he would have had all the clubhouse staff pack my stuff and move it way down to the other end of the clubhouse without telling me and have me walk in ... Now, that would have been funny.”
Rolen had his own plan for re-arranging lockers.
The day after Votto signed Rolen wanted to take down the name plates of Ryan Ludwick, Drew Stubbs, Chris Heisey and Bruce. Then have their belongings moved elsewhere, leaving Votto’s name to the middle, with four empty lockers on each side on the back of lockers.
“Like most good ideas I have, I never followed through with it,” Rolen said.
Rolen and Votto form their own mutual admiration society in their corner of the Reds clubhouse.
“Joey is serious about the game, he works at getting better every day,” Rolen said. “He had some good coaching growing up. He wants to do everything right. He understands the game and wants to run the bases the right way. He’s more than a big weapon with the bat.”
The best player Rolen ever played with?
“I’m not really a numbers guy and no disrespect to others,” Rolen began, “but the best I ever played with was Larry Walker.”
Walker joined the Cardinals during the 2004 season and played all of 2005.
“Walker could do everything on the field,” said Rolen. “It was a credit to his character the way he ran the bases, he set an example for everyone. And I had him his final two years ... when he was 37-38 years of age. Joey’s got four years in the majors.
“He’s asked me before and I’ve told him Larry Walker was the best.”
So, we asked Votto.
“He’s told me that,” Votto said. “But Scott’s wrong.”
“Everyone knows the best player he ever played with is Albert.”