Let me preface this article by stating that this is by no means an accusation or statement of fact regarding the Cincinnati Reds and their handling of Joey Votto‘s injury. In fact, this article simply asks the question: what if the Reds’ handling of Votto’s injury is about more than just about baseball?
This could be filed under “conspiracy theories”, but what if the Reds have noticed the decline (in terms of production and health) of Joey Votto and immediately regret the decision to sign him to a 10-year, $200 million contract extension? So instead of placing him on the DL, they choose to continue running him out in the starting lineup day after day until he suffers a career-ending injury?
It sounds crazy and asinine, but what if they were doing such a thing in order avoid being financially strapped to an expensive, rapidly declining player for the foreseeable future, a la Ken Griffey, Jr.?
If Votto were to sustain a career-ending injury, there is a great chance that the team’s insurance policy (which I am assuming they purchased along with Votto’s contract) would be responsible for the majority of the remaining money left on the deal instead of the taking up space on the Reds’ payroll. While insurance policies don’t cover normal wear and tear, they often do cover the majority injuries that end careers.
According to Baseball Prospectus, “… insurance policies are limited to two or three years, may cover only 50-80 percent of the player’s salary, have qualifying deductible waiting periods that last half of the season, and can include provisions that help the provider avoid having to cover the cost in certain circumstances.”
I highly doubt that the Reds have an ulterior motive when it comes to their handling of Votto’s injury, and I would hope such a situation wouldn’t be considered. Though, the thought does bring up a topic of how much contracts and subsequent insurance policies go into play when it comes to how teams handle injuries of their star players.
Even if such a decision was made to save a team from an albatross of a contract in this way, no one would ever admit to it.
This discussion is yet another reminder of how the business aspect behind the games we love can go a long way in defining the decisions that are being made. With the continued questionable handling of Votto and his injuries over recent years, it is a discussion that will continue to be considered — though likely not audibly.