2011 Reds

The Joey Votto/Yonder Alonso Situation

(Please welcome Ashley Davis; this is her first post for the Nation.)

I’ve been scratching my head these last few weeks over all this talk about the Reds trading Joey Votto. A couple of weeks ago, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer posted something about the Reds possibly being interested in a trade of Votto for Jose Bautista. Some fans, fueled by a certain sports talk radio host, agreed with this and thought that the Reds would be a better team with Bautista in left field and Yonder Alonso at first base. And now, some fans want Votto to move to left field to accommodate Alonso.

I get that baseball is a business and the Reds are a small market team in said business. They’re going to have a big decision to make after 2013 when Votto becomes a free agent. In fact, they might even have a decision to make after next year when his salary goes up to $17 million. That’s a lot of money for this team, even with growing attendance numbers. But, is it really worth it to trade a MVP player and in return, play a young first baseman who has only 55 plate appearances in the major leagues?

The reasons I think trading Votto, especially for Bautista, is a bad idea:

1. Bautista will be 31 this offseason. Votto will be 28 in September. Votto is in his prime right now. Although Bautista has had a great year this year, possibly even an MVP year, he still only has a career batting average of .253 with an OBP of .358. Votto has a career batting average of .315 with an OBP of .407. Nobody knew about Bautista until last year when he started banging out home runs. He was just an average player until 2010, his breakout year. Who’s to say that in coming years he’ll be as good as he was this year? Maybe Bautista is just having a breakout year and next year he’ll be as good as this year, but why take that chance when Votto has already proven that he can hit every year.

2. Yonder Alonso is only 24. He’s still somewhat of an unproven player at the major league level. Don’t get me wrong, I do think Alonso is the Reds best up and coming hitter, but he hasn’t played an entire MLB season yet. Votto is a MVP. Even though Votto hasn’t had a season like last year, he still has really good numbers. Alonso can hit well, but do you really want to sacrifice your best hitter for an unproven player?

3. Many fans come to the ballpark to see Votto. I think that Votto is to Cincinnati what Albert Pujols is to St. Louis in that he’s one of the players who people buy tickets to watch. Fans spend lots of money to wear his jersey. He brings in money for the Reds.

I understand why some people might like the idea of trading Votto. Some fans, though they don’t want him to leave, think that he’s going to want to leave when he becomes a free agent in 2013 because the Reds won’t be able to take on his salary. They think that if the Reds play Alonso at first, it will give them
some stability at first now instead of sitting Alonso now and then potentially changing first basemen in a couple years. Alonso would have some years to develop and would be even better in a couple of years.

My solution would be to have Alonso finish out the year playing left field. He played there most of the year in Louisville. He should get a chance to try to play that position with the Reds. Unlike what some people have talked about in the last couple of days, keep Votto at first. I don’t think Votto is selfish if he wants to stay at first; he’s worked hard to improve himself at that position. He’s not like Pujols in that he’s played another position enough in the past that he could move fairly easily. I think that if he stays at first, he could win a Gold Glove sometime in the future. I think that having Votto and Alonso rather than Bautista (or someone else) and Alonso on the team for at least two more years is going to help them get back to the playoffs sooner. Don’t fans want to see Joey play here for as long as he can before he potentially leaves after 2013?

28 thoughts on “The Joey Votto/Yonder Alonso Situation

  1. Alonso is under control for a few more years and Bautista is under team control through 2015 (2016?). I think Alonso and Votto through 2013 is better than Bautista and Alonso through 2013 (offensively), but as a small market team, the Reds can’t afford to only think through 2013. So long as Bautista doesn’t drop off before 2013, there is little downside to trading Votto for him and if he drops off after 2013, you’re no worse off since Votto would have been gone anyway. That’s why the discussion amongst fans was at least worth considering.

    In my dream scenario, resign Votto long term and put Alonso in LF for good or trade him to get LF help, with hopefully a RH batter. That just may be fantasy though.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with this. Why should we be talking about moving an MVP from his position to accommodate a player with such few major league plate appearances? Then you have a first baseman playing out of position in left field and a below average first basemen. The whole Bautista trade thing was just a bunch of smoke. Never was going to happen.

  3. Joey’s comments on the subject came off as a bit too prideful IMO. I mean, c’mon, it’s not like he doesn’t have eyes and can’t see how ill equipped Alonso is to play left. At the very least say you’re open to discussing it in the offseason.
    This much I know—one of these two will not be around next season. My preference is to move Votto because the trade pieces we could acquire would go a loooong way toward returning this team to prominence.

  4. Moving Votto to LF is a dumb idea. I don’t think that idea has ever really been considered and Votto has every write to say no. It doesn’t make him selfish — it makes him smart. He should win the Gold Glove this year.

    I do think the Reds need to look at trading him, though. Given his age,I’m not entirely sold on Bautista either, but if they can deal Votto for another stud LF or an ace, I think the Reds should do it. As much as I would love to see Votto finish his career as a Redleg, I just can’t imagine that happening. There is no definitive quote out there, but it does seem that Votto has made it clear that he will test free agency no matter what. How can the Reds compete with the rest of the league in a bidding war for one of the best first basemen in the game? They can’t. Votto is as good as gone. Again, that doesn’t make him selfish. It just makes him a ballplayer. That’s business.

    I think the Reds have a better shot at a championship with Alonso at 1B and a stud outfielder or legitimate #1 (pieces they could potentially get by trading Votto) than they are with Votto at 1B and whatever replacement player that Jocketty will sign to try to plug one of the Reds’ many holes. This all changes, of course, if the Reds decide to spend some money and Jocketty decides to actually upgrade the club with quality players — i.e., if he decides to stop signing Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, Jonny Gomes, Fred Lewis, Willy Taveras, etc, etc, etc.

  5. I have to agree with you! First off how much sense does it really make to move the reigning NL MVP and 3rd ranked 1st baseman in the league to LF? Seriously ? Votto has definitely earned his place as starting 1st baseman, and doesn’t have much experience in LF, if something ain’t broke don’t try to fix it. I feel since Heisey is on the DL and we could definitely use Alonso’s bat in the lineup why not put Frazier in LF alternating him and Sappelt and put Alonso on 3rd? It’s a mirror image of 1st and with Rolen on the DL as well it could alternate him and Cairo. He could produce much better results than in LF… I’m obviously not a manager but it’s just a thought and this way Votto can keep up the great work at 1st.

  6. I don’t think that is an option. Alonso’s LF defense is a show stopper. He is just awful there, and bad enough that I even question his 1B defense since I haven’t seen him play there.

    Votto to LF doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t want to be there and there’s no evidence to suggest he’d be any better than Alonso. I even get the feeling that Joey is tough to keep happy (not high strung like a trophy wife, but sensitive). Moving him is just not a good idea.

    So we have two potential trade chips. In my mind, which you trade depends on when you want to contend — keep Votto to win next year before he leaves, keep Alonso to win in 2013. It could easily be argued vice versa, but barring a bad trade, I don’t think either leaves you in bad shape for the immediate OR long term future.

    I can’t decide between the two. I AM almost positive we can’t hold on to Votto for 2013. Freeing up his big contract next year could help the team in free agency. Since it’s entirely possible the team could be better with whoever Votto can demand, I guess he’s the one to trade.

    Even though one of them has to go and I think the front office agrees, I see them getting caught up in what-ifs and never making a move.

  7. There is an impression out there, I think because he hasn’t hit as many Homers this year, that Votto is having a “down” year compared to last year. In fact, at the moment, he’s on pace for 7.4 WAR. Last year, he finished with 7.6. So, in fact, he’s been almost exactly as good this year as last year.

    It’s important to remember that offense is down all over the league. So rate stats that aren’t as good as last year can still be just as good in the context of how the league is performing.

  8. There has been a lot of reaction to Votto not saying to the media that he would be happy to play LF. For him to say that would be “dumb”. All of a sudden the media would be all over Walt and Dusty about playing Votto in LF. That would not be something they would appreciate. Votto is smart enough to know that.

    Also one factor that is in question is whether Votto will stay. That question has not been answered yet. I’m not sure it has been asked since the last contract was signed. Votto may well be willing to stay. The Reds may well be willing to do what it takes to have him stay. When the Reds and Votto did the deal, Votto wanted to keep his options open. That seems smart. I’ve said it elsewhere – I assume he wants to win. Going into next year we will all be clearer about whether the Reds are doing what it takes to win. Including Votto.

    Votto is the only true consistent all star on the team. There are a few other possibilities, but Votto is the real deal. Plus he is a good guy. He is a good example with his preparation and how hard he works. He consistently has good at bats. He has worked and willed himself into being good defensively. Guys like him don’t come around very often. His numbers are very good and he is way more than his numbers. You should be very careful about letting him go. And certainly not for someone (or someones) who is far from proven.

  9. I tossed out a post or two in March which did little but to show my age. It looked at the 1969-71 Reds and the 1B position. Lee May was 27 on Opening Day 1970, and hit 38, 34, and 39 home runs – right up to the point where he was traded (with 2B starter Tommy Helms) for some underachieving Astro players of the time. My question then wasn’t whether Joey Votto is Lee May – it was more whether Yonder Alonso can yet be thought of anything close to Tony Perez.

    I did call out Bronson Arroyo as the modern-day Jack Billingham, though.

    And Homer Bailey playing the role of Ross Grimsley, but let’s not go there.

  10. To me one of the two have to be traded and thus it comes down to which trade will best help the Reds overall and that answer is Joey Votto. Votto will not be a Red when he becomes a FA, the Reds just can’t afford what other teams will overpay for him. Second Votto will bring us the most in return via trade compared to what Yonder alone or even in a package could bring us. Thirdly it saves us some money to be spent in other needed places. To me this deal MUST go down this offseason, but with both Fielder and Albert on the FA market it will make it tougher.

  11. There is a point which I think perhaps is being overlooked in this discussion. Simply put, it takes two to trade. If one were to seek to trade Joey Votto just who and where is the market for his services?

    Just about any team would probably like to have Votto’s talents but who can afford them and at the same time return to the Reds what they need in return if the deal is to be any more than a salary dump?

    Many, I daresay even most, teams would be in a situation with him very similar to the situation the Reds are in. Are they going to give up their top talent and pay out $26M to Votto over the next two years to likely see him walk? The answer to that one is probably no unless they have a similar contract to send to the Reds as part of the deal.

    So the truth may well be that Yonder Alonso is actually more vlauable in the trade market than Joey Votto at this point in time whihc is just another reason on top of the baseball reasons to hang onto Votto over Alonso if one of the two must be moved.

    • There is a point which I think perhaps is being overlooked in this discussion. Simply put, it takes two to trade. If one were to seek to trade Joey Votto just who and where is the market for his services? Just about any team would probably like to have Votto’s talents but who can afford them and at the same time return to the Reds what they need in return if the deal is to be any more than a salary dump? Many, I daresay even most, teams would be in a situation with him very similar to the situation the Reds are in. Are they going to give up their top talent and pay out $26M to Votto over the next two years to likely see him walk? The answer to that one is probably no unless they have a similar contract to send to the Reds as part of the deal.So the truth may well be that Yonder Alonso is actually more vlauable in the trade market than Joey Votto at this point in time whihc is just another reason on top of the baseball reasons to hang onto Votto over Alonso if one of the two must be moved.

      Maybe the Cardinals would want him if we can’t resign Pujols 😉

    • There is a point which I think perhaps is being overlooked in this discussion. Simply put, it takes two to trade. If one were to seek to trade Joey Votto just who and where is the market for his services?
      Just about any team would probably like to have Votto’s talents but who can afford them and at the same time return to the Reds what they need in return if the deal is to be any more than a salary dump?
      Many, I daresay even most, teams would be in a situation with him very similar to the situation the Reds are in. Are they going to give up their top talent and pay out $26M to Votto over the next two years to likely see him walk? The answer to that one is probably no unless they have a similar contract to send to the Reds as part of the deal. So the truth may well be that Yonder Alonso is actually more valuable in the trade market than Joey Votto at this point in time which is just another reason on top of the baseball reasons to hang onto Votto over Alonso if one of the two must be moved.

      This is a very good point, although I don’t agree with the conclusion that Alonso has more trade value. He’s unproven. Votto is an MVP. But the main point that it isn’t clear what team would trade for Votto is worth analyzing.

      Teams in the same market/salary size as the Reds can be left out, for the reason mentioned. There are also a handful of wealthy teams who will already have their 1B (Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, whoever lands Fielder and Pujols).

      But that still leaves plenty of mid-to-large market teams who would trade for Votto thinking they had a good chance to resign him at the end of 2013. The Dodgers, Blue Jays, White Sox, Rangers, Angels, Nationals and Rockies all come to mind as not having 1B but possibly being able to afford Votto’s next contract.

  12. The Reds simply can’t afford Joey Votto beyond 2013 and it wouldn’t make sense for them to hold on to him all the way through 2013. But 2013 is the outer edge of his playing time for the Reds.

    Votto will make $17 million in 2013 and probably $25 million/year beyond that. See comparable contracts for Teixeira and soon-to-be Fielder.

    Jose Bautista, on the other hand, is signed through 2015 at $14 million/year. That runs through his age 35 season. He plays LF.

    Bautista is not having a breakthrough year this year. It was last year, when he hit 54 home runs, drove in 124 (for the old school types), and had an OBP of .378. He is following up his breakthrough year with another great one – 35 home runs and an OBP of .453.

    Trading for him on the basis of last year alone would have be unwise. But seeing that he has followed up with another spectacular season, the risk is greatly reduced.

    If Bautista is one of the premier hitters in the league, for the Reds to have him under control for four more years at $14 million — that’s a steal. Lesser players are signed for way more than $20 million.

    I’m not saying we should make this particular trade, only that it isn’t ridiculous on its face. Notice that at no point did I mention Yonder Alonso. This trade concept stands on its merits independent of that consideration.

    Straight up – Votto for Bautista – you can make an argument that Votto is a (slightly) better hitter, but only 1 or 2 of those years would be for the Reds. And Bautista might outperform Votto even then. On the other hand, Bautista could be earning his numbers in a Cincinnati uniform for four years.

    Reds fans have to face the FACT that under their current financial philosophy, the Reds cannot resign Votto. His playing days here run through 2013 at most, and probably not even that long.

  13. if THEY can’t resign Pujols.

    I think that if Bob and Walt are not willing to make a big move this winter (yes which would probably cost some kind of money) then they my as well move Votto now. Without improvement to the team, and I don’t think these young guys are the answer for contending next year, the Reds probably won’t be much better next year and won’t want to spend the $$ on Votto in ’13.

    If this is where the Reds are maxed out in payroll why not just unload Votto now and think longer term. However, I don’t really buy all the small market crap.

  14. I think Joey is a decent first baseman. He’s robotic and not particularly natural, but has worked so hard at it that he’s become pretty good defensively. I think he’d be good in left field—in time. On the other hand, Joey doesn’t seem to be the type of player who would want to expose himself to embarrassment in the field and he sets a very high personal bar. I could see him working in the off-season on LF and coming into spring training and be willing to move to help the team. Who knows? It’s not going to happen now, though.

    The Reds are paying the price for their draft the best athlete strategy. You can end up with blocked players and Walt can’t just snap his fingers and conjure up a trading partner—especially at first base (let alone DH). Other teams see that you have a log-jam and they adjust their offers accordingly. Stick him at third and see what happens. We suffered through EE for how long? Alonzo couldn’t be worse than Edwin could he?

    • The Reds are paying the price for their draft the best athlete strategy. You can end up with blocked players and Walt can’t just snap his fingers and conjure up a trading partner—especially at first base (let alone DH). Other teams see that you have a log-jam and they adjust their offers accordingly. Stick him at third and see what happens. We suffered through EE for how long? Alonzo couldn’t be worse than Edwin could he?

      Well said. Based on things I’ve heard Yonder say are he is most comfortable at third. Let him play the next 35 games and analyze how he performs. This team isnt going anywhere and playing cairo there does the team no good for the future.

  15. @Steve Mancuso: Agreed. Votto for Bautista if it is there is one of the few deals likely available that is anything more than a glorified disguised salary dump. I’d hate to see Joey gone but that one would not incite me because the Reds might be a better team after the deal than they were before.

    On the other hand I would maintain that sometimes it is better to play the string out and take the draft picks at the end than to dump a guy for a bunch of prospects, which is what they are going to get for Votto truth be told if money is the guidimg light of the deal.

    For instance, if Prince Fielder walks 5 minutes after the Brewers final out of the year, that franchise is till going to be stronger going forward because of what happened this year than if he would have been moved.

    Also I’m in with Truman on the small market ruse. Small market talk is talk of those who chose not to try and compete. Again just look at the Brewers this year as what can happen if you go all in.

    • OhioJimFor instance, if Prince Fielder walks 5 minutes after the Brewers final out of the year, that franchise is till going to be stronger going forward because of what happened this year than if he would have been moved.

      I agree with this 100%. It’s true because the Brewers (sadly) appear poised to make the playoffs. If that were not the case, holding on to Fielder to the bitter end would be a disaster. If the Reds are in contention to make the playoffs and can’t get equal value for Votto, I say you hold on to him because the upside of making the playoffs is tremendous for the fans, players and organization.

  16. @Steve Mancuso: Steve, there are two sides to my statement. A teamnot only has to be financially able to play the game, they also must have the very specific talent the Reds needs or else, as I have said elsewhere it becomes nothing more than a glorified salary dump.

    I’d question the Rangers, Rockies, and Dodgers on your list because of those team’s financial situations and uncertainties. The others would be possibilities if they had the right established talent (not prospects) to sends back (and I have no idea if they do or not). However other than maybe the Angels, there is not a team on that list the Reds couldn’t match financially if they chose to.

  17. Pop quiz (without looking):

    Which of these player is the DH for the Boston Red Sox tonight?

    A. Adrian Gonzalez
    B. Ryan Lavarnway
    C. David Ortiz
    D. Manny Ramirez

  18. I doubt the Reds would have a difficult time finding a team willing to work with them to obtain Votto.

  19. First of all, when Alonso was drafted, I believe that Votto was still playing in Louisville. No one saw MVP in Joey Votto at that point in his career. In fact, the games that I saw him, he actually played left field and seemed to be good. Based on that, I believe the Reds made the right call at that point. To get rid of Votto right now is just crazy. He is a player in his prime with an MVP under his belt already and he has not reached the age of 30. If the Reds could have sustained success, we could afford him in two years…possibly. However if the Reds have another season like this one, they may need to entertain trade offers for him. We need to see if this team can make a strong, strong run and everyone play to their potential before we decide to make another Frank Robinson trade. We know how that trade went down and it was one of the worst trades in the modern history of baseball. Remember people…if you do not learn from the mistakes of history, you are destined to repeat them. Do we want to have the reputation of letting three MVP’s go for nothing…Robinson, Josh Hamilton, and Votto?

  20. Good grief, all this “trade Votto” talk is sickening. He’s worth every penny.

    According to Cot’s contracts, both Votto and Arroyo are signed through 2013, at $19m and $11.5m, respectively. Let Arroyo walk, stop signing washed up veterans, and continue to build the team around him. I get so sick of the small market, low budget excuse. It’s not how much money you spend — it’s how you spend it.

  21. What if Votto has no intentions of extending his time with Cincy and he tests the markets after 2013? Who knows what he’s thinking. He’s made it clear that big markets and all that extra attention aren’t his cup of tea (remember that article about the Yankees hounding him during the draft, lol) but he does believe in getting a fair shake, so he probably will seek good compensation after 2013. We could let him walk and collect picks, but what if the new CBA rules eliminate that? Besides, draft picks don’t seem like just compensation for losing a star like Joey. I think the Reds could work it out in their budget if they really wanted to extend Joey. Heck, I’d be cool with a jack in ticket prices. Where might Joey wind up after 2013? He only has so many options. The Jays, Dodgers, Rangers, and Angels are the only possible options I can think of. If he doesn’t want to go to left field, do you really think he’d be willing to DH? I don’t think so.

    Alonso can’t play left, and I don’t know that Joey would be much better out there. I disagree with not asking him to move just because he’s Joey Votto; he’s one of 25 guys on the roster, he should do what’s best for the team. But, I don’t know how well he’d do out there, and it probably wouldn’t help. They do need a good leftfielder next year, preferably someone that can either hit fourth or fifth.

    One thing’s clear, Alonso and Votto can’t both be on the roster next year. If Votto indicates that he’s not coming back, or that he’ll cost too much, you might have to sadly trade him. If he sounds like he’ll stay in Cincy, get something out of Alonso. They need another bat regardless. It’ll be interesting to see where they get one.

    Fans do come out to the park to watch Joey play, but they’d come out to see Bautista play too. And there are other good players worht seeing, like Chapman or BP. If it improves the team, that’s what’s most important to come out and see.

    As for Bautista’s late development, I have some friends that are Pirate fans. They weren’t happy when Jose was cut loose; they thought he could develop into this amazing player. He got his shot in Toronto, he made some adjustments, and he’s doing this in his second year. I see no fluke, and imagine the numbers he could post in GABP and the NL Central; I think it’s impressive how he’s doing under the pressure of the AL East.

    I feel no envy for Walt being stuck in this precarious position heading into the winter: trade Joey for Jose, or keep Joey and bank on him extending? If he does keep Joey, he should really deal Yonder and get a legit leftfielder. Decisions, decisions. I say keep Joey, trade Yonder, go for it in the next couple years.

  22. I dont get this trade talk of your best player while still under contract for 2 years. After all the years of slap hitting/doubles guys at 1B, driessen/morris/benzinger/casey etc, while the rest of the league had legit home run power threats and the Reds were lagging seriously behind. with Votto I thought finally Reds got it right with a star MVP type of player. I hope people understand how long its been the reds had a legit 1B. It had been since 1975 a Reds 1B had a 100+ rbi(perez) and since 1969(Lee May) since Reds had a 1B with 35+HR and 110+ rbi. And yes, I have seen those guys play back then(i am with you lthedaug, lol ). Like JD above, I say keep him and build around him. Two years a lot can happen.

    Good discussion, even though I despise the topic. 😉

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