It’s time for the Cincinnati Reds to set Joey Votto free. The Canadian first baseman has been with the team since 2007. He’s only played in nine postseason games, never advancing to the League Championship. If Votto remains with the Reds through June, he will pass 1500 games played with the franchise. That is a long time to spend on a team with little to no chance at reaching postseason baseball in the next couple of years. The Reds have the 8th best farm system according to this year’s rankings, but even with the talented youth on the farm they will still need to beat perennial division contenders in the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. Joey Votto is 34. He’s got a great track record, but age always catches up to you. It’s time he gets the chance to contribute on a winning team.
The career numbers for Votto are outstanding. With a career slash line of .312/.427/.536, Votto has been among the top players at his position for a decade. Add in 257 home runs, 837 RBI, an amazing 1099:1088 strikeouts to walk ratio, and it’s easy to see the value a player like Votto brings to the table. Looking deeper, a career wRC+ of 157, 52.8 WAR, and .225 ISO have Votto ranked among the best ever. That wRC+ ranks 13th all time. The only other active players in the top 30 are Mike Trout (7th – 169) and Miguel Cabrera (28th – 149). Regardless of where Votto finishes his career, or if he wins a World Series, there is no reason he won’t end up in Cooperstown.
If Joey Votto does end up being part of a trade, are there any teams who would have the money and the pieces to acquire him? Any trade involving Votto will likely occur this season or before 2019 opens. The Reds would need to get at least a few prospects in return, with any major league talent added in such as a replacement at first base. Votto isn’t getting any younger, and serious regression could happen at any time. Based on his age and contract, it’s likely that he remains stuck in Cincinnati for the rest of his career.
It would be great to see Votto in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform. He would fit right in. As a Canadian it would mean a lot to the country to see him playing for the home team. The Jays have a bunch of young talent coming up through their system. Some, like Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., are already contributing on the big league roster. The most notable of the future Blue Jays are Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, who are expecting to be with the big club to begin the 2019 season. The Jays do have Justin Smoak as their everyday first baseman, and it’s possible that he could go the other way in a trade for Votto. Plenty of valuable prospects would have to go back the other way, and I don’t believe the Jays are comfortable with giving up young players for an expensive, aging first baseman.
Should Paul Goldschmidt leave the Arizona Diamondbacks in the offseason, Votto could replace him if Arizona decided to make a run again in 2019. Other teams that could show interest include the Twins, Royals, Pirates and Rockies. Most teams in the league would take a look at what the Reds want for their all star. Talent like Votto’s is hard to come by.
Stats from FanGraphs. Image from Sporting News.