Despite fans clamoring for the Blue Jays to trade for Joey Votto, the Canadian slugger is not likely to come to Toronto.
Joey Votto is Canadian. Joey Votto is a lefty bat. Joey Votto would be amazing in a Blue Jays uniform. But, Joey Votto is not coming to Toronto.
For months now, fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have been begging and pleading to anyone who will listen that a trade for Joey Votto needs to be done. It has been talked about so much that some people are actually starting to believe that it will happen. And, you can’t really blame them. The deal would make sense. The Blue Jays need a left handed batter. They could use a solid first baseman. And, the fact that he is Canadian makes everything that much sweeter.
At The Star, Richard Griffin writes that the Blue Jays need to get a deal done to bring the Etobicoke native home. Griffin offers many reasons for his demand. And, they all make sense. The Blue Jays are running out a series of lefty bats that will present major problems in a playoff series. It’s true. Michael Saunders has fallen off his All Star pace, Ezequiel Carrera, Ryan Goins and Josh Thole are not enough to scare any opponent. You could also count Justin Smoak in this mix when he hits from the left side, but that is not going to help the picture look any better.
The Blue Jays would benefit greatly from adding the 32 yr old’s .309/.433/.522 line, his 20 HR and 72 RBI as well as his glove. Even though he’s seen a dip to -11 DRS this season, he’s put up several years of solid glove work. Indeed, he would be a major upgrade for a club who has been offensively inconsistent this season.
And, last season, a trade almost happened. Griffin says that a deal was in the works right before Alex Anthopoulos landed Troy Tulowitzki (and unloaded Jose Reyes!) and David Price. There was interest in the past- more than just tire kicking. But, this is a new year. This is a new regime. The current management of the Blue Jays does not exactly strike as the kind to go out and trade for a contract like Votto’s. See, from now until 2023 (his age 39 season), he will be getting paid a total of $192M! That also does not include the $20M team option or $7M buyout for 2024. We’ve learned a lot about the Mark Shapiro/ Ross Atkins group thus far. None of this financial commitment would appeal to them.
Let’s also remember that Votto will be approaching age 40 by the end of this deal. We know how Shapiro (and likely as a by-product, Atkins) feel about aging talent. The belief in a player’s abilities sticking around to age 39 doesn’t seem to be there. With their increased focus on performance management and health, do we really think they’d go off book and take a chance on Votto? Let’s also remember that Votto was the focal point of a lot of struggle related conversation earlier just this year. Think that won’t make management think about future decline?
Well, Griffin feels they have to go off book. He says that 1) the new regime has learned that winning equates to dollars, so the money is there 2) the Blue Jays are about to lose Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista and R.A. Dickey and Votto money can replace them for the long term, which one assumes Griffin thinks is a better use of resources. 3) Bautista can be dealt with by a qualifying offer and Edwin is likely headed elsewhere (*cough* Boston). 4) The lineup would lend itself to a simple insertion of Votto. So, money is there as well as situation.
Griffin also says that with Edwin and Jose gone, there remains Josh Donaldson, Tulo and Russell Martin as the only members of the core to win with. Well, that makes things sound much worse than they are. What about Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, Devon Travis and Kevin Pillar? Sounds like the core is bigger than three. Now, the window of the previously stated 3 is smaller, for sure. But, that doesn’t mean the club needs to rush out and get Votto just because those 3 are aging. It certainly doesn’t mean that a move has to be done to make them happy, as Griffin suggests.
Griffin assumes a lot, as most do. The assumption is that Votto will clear conditional waivers (who wants to claim that contract?) and that the Reds are clearly sellers. It is also assumed that the player will waive his no trade clause: “Votto has a full no-trade, but I’m sure he could be convinced to come to a contender in his home town.”
Um, Votto has said that he is happy in Cincinnati and does not want to leave. To wit: “We rode out some (stuff) last year, if I can ride that out and have a good time and be optimistic, I can handle just about anything,” Votto said. “As long as we continue to head in the right direction, I’m very excited and proud to be a Red. I’m motivated by being a part of the future.” (from Zach Buchanan- Cincinnati.com) Now, this was back in the spring and was clearly meant to make fans feel better about their team heading into the season. So, we can read it with cynicism, if we like. But, there is no evidence he wants to be traded.
It would be awesome if the Toronto Blue Jays could somehow come up with the kind of package that would convince the Reds to part with the face of their franchise. It would be like playing a video game. But, unlike video games, we can’t select the ‘force trades’ option in the settings. We can’t just say, “Go get Votto”. It isn’t that easy. For the Toronto Blue Jays, trading for Joey Votto is unlikely.
Now, I would love to be wrong. In fact, if my powers are working, simply writing this will make it happen. That’s how things go. When we say it isn’t going to happen, sometimes that’s when it happens. Well, if this is one of those cases, you can thank me later. Until then, don’t hold your breath.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.