Votto 'proud of' Harper, Machado for how they've handled free agency
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Joey Votto is standing with the free agents who can't find work.

Upon arriving at Cincinnati Reds camp Sunday, the former NL MVP expressed his admiration at how superstar free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have steadfastly waited for the contract terms that they've been asking for all winter.

"Here they are standing their ground and saying, 'You know what, until I get the deal that I think is satisfactory, I won't play,'" Votto told Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I think if you were to ask them face to face, they would say the very same thing. I don't want to speak for the union or all the players, but the toughest thing to do is stand your ground when you really want to start playing ball.

"I just want to say, I don't know them both very well, but I'm proud of them. I hope that they get contracts that they view as satisfactory."

There are signs that Harper and/or Machado may sign soon. On Sunday, it was reported that the Philadelphia Phillies had emerged as the favorites to land Harper; later Sunday night, it was reported that the San Diego Padres have now made serious bids for both players.

The prolonged free-agent sagas of Harper, Machado, and others have led to many players voicing their displeasure with the state of free agency. New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano told Tyler Kepner of The New York Times that "every baseball player is shocked" by what's transpired this winter, while St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright predicted that a strike is all but ensured unless something changes.

Votto has spent his entire career in Cincinnati, skipping over free agency by signing a 10-year, $225-million contract with the Reds in 2014. His deal is the seventh-most expensive contract in baseball history, per Cot's Contracts.

Votto 'proud of' Harper, Machado for how they've handled free agency
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