The Cincinnati Reds were set to have their existing TV contract with FS-Ohio expire after the upcoming 2017 season, but both officially settled that on Wednesday by announcing a new deal that will run through the 2032 season. The Enquirer's Zach Buchanan spoke with Phil Castellini about the deal earlier, and the team's COO gave some interesting insight into the new agreement.
Castellini, the organization’s chief operating officer, said it represents a "nice increase" in yearly television rights fees, but is still a small-market deal when compared to other recent TV deals. The Reds’ current deal has guaranteed them $30 million a year since 2007.
Terms of the deal weren't spelled out in great detail, but it's safe to say they'll be getting a sizable yearly increase over that $30 million mark. Of course, Castellini later revealed that the Reds had taken a minority ownership stake in FS-Ohio, which means the overall monetary benefit for the team's owners won't only come in cash flow.
The lack of explosive fanfare for this would-be windfall is somewhat telling, I suppose, though it doesn't appear they're too disappointed in how things turned out, either. Obviously, the billion dollar overall agreements signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, and others in recent years surely gave us all high hopes, but the combination of Cincinnati's market size and the team's recent, deep rebuild made those kind of figures unrealistic from the beginning. In reality, it seems this deal is roughly in-line with what should've been expected, which was largely factored into the decisions to sign some of the team's current players to long, expensive deals over the last few seasons.
Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors further broke down what we know about the deal, noting that the Reds' projected payroll for the 2017 season sits at some $88.5 million, or nearly $30 million less than when the team rolled out record payrolls in 2012, 2013, and 2014. While it's easy to quickly assume that the new TV deal should go directly to the big league payroll, the reality is that it's not really feasible to do that at this time. For one, the club has stocked its roster with young, inexpensive players, and the only way to spend this money on the 25-man roster would be to make a trade for an older, high-salary player or to dip into free agency - neither of which fits in line with the team's current, thorough rebuild. More likely, it's the kind of money that will help fuel the team's international signings and high draft picks, since a direct byproduct of drafting 2nd overall again is the necessity for larger signing bonuses.
If this doesn't move the needle for you, that's probably because you've been hearing about it and expecting it for so long that it had become a foregone conclusion in your mind already. And, that's probably OK, given that the deal appears to be pretty much what you should've expected.
Now, I suppose the question now becomes whether the team's minority ownership in FS-Ohio means they get to dictate which broadcasters call the games...