It's a sign of how priorities have changed.
Right-hander Bronson Arroyo got a two-year extension Thursday that will pay him an additional $25 million and keep him under contract through at least 2010. There's a team option for the following season.
The agreement came two days after top starter Aaron Harang avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $36.5 million, four-year deal that also includes a club option for 2011.
“I honestly didn't think they were going to even talk to me about a contract this offseason,” said Arroyo, who had two years left on his current deal. “But they were serious.”
For the first time since they won the World Series in 1990, the Reds have a pair of starters worth such long-term deals and an owner willing to spend the money. Harang and Arroyo will make at least $71 million million over the next four years.
“Most baseball people agree that with Bronson and Aaron Harang, the top of our rotation is as strong as any in baseball,” owner Bob Castellini said.
The two contracts amounted to the team's biggest spending splurge since 2000, when previous owner Carl Lindner gave Ken Griffey Jr. a $116.5 million, nine-year deal to play for his hometown team. The downside of that deal was that it forced the team to scrimp on pitching to stay within its budget.
In the following years, the Reds also gave big contracts to two other position players: shortstop Barry Larkin (three years, $27 million) and first baseman Sean Casey (three years, $20.4 million).