- Associated Press - Sunday, January 16, 2011

CINCINNATI (AP) - Joey Votto powered the Cincinnati Reds to their first playoff appearance in 15 years, winning the NL MVP award for a breakthrough season.

The first baseman earned a raise, and boy, did he get one.

Votto has agreed to a $38 million, three-year contract with Cincinnati, buying out his arbitration years and giving the reigning NL Central champs some short-term budget security.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press about the deal on Sunday on condition of anonymity because the contract had not yet been announced.

Votto was a first-time All-Star in 2010, finishing second in the NL in batting average at .324 and third in homers (37) and RBIs (113). He led the NL in slugging percentage (.600), topped the major leagues in on-base percentage (.424) and had 16 stolen bases in 21 chances.

He made $525,000 last year and was eligible for arbitration for the first time.

Now 27, Votto didn’t become a major league regular until two years ago. Following the death of his father in August 2008, he went on the disabled list and missed 21 games the following year partly because of depression and anxiety.

He was a runaway winner in the MVP balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, receiving 31 of 32 first-place votes and 443 points. Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was second with the remaining first-place vote.

Born in Toronto, Votto became the third Canadian-born MVP, following Colorado’s Larry Walker (1997) and Minnesota’s Justin Morneau (2006).

___

AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.