Joey Votto is Perfect

Three Paths For the Reds and Votto

I was part of a debate the other night with some friends on what Joey Votto’s future with the Reds should look like. Strong cases were made for each of the three broad visions. The positions say something about baseball strategy, the Reds’ rebuild, and a player’s value, so I think they serve as a kind of Rorschach test for Reds fans. Here, as best as I can distill them, are the three cases. Let RLN know which one seems the closest to right to you, and why.

Position 1: Dump Votto’s Contract 

It was just never right. The Reds’ ownership let themselves get swept up in the excitement of having a good team, and an MVP, and they thought the party would never end. They were going to win a World Series and let the baseball gods sort out the rest.

The day that Votto signed a 10-year $225 million dollar extension to his already lucrative deal that had two more years left, Big Bob said “Is it risky? No doubt. That’s the environment we live in, especially as a small market.” He knew it was a huge gamble with the club’s future, but he rolled the dice anyway. We’re gonna live forever!

The play was to mortgage the Reds future for the hopes of a title or two during the Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman window. It could have happened in 2012 but didn’t, and now we’re left with the downside. For a team with a payroll that’s usually in the $85-$105 million range, paying any one player $25 million is always going to cause problems.

But the percentage of total payroll is just the start of the issue. The real problems are that we are wasting Votto’s prime, when his contract is at least reasonable, and who knows what Votto will be playing like by the time the Reds are ready to compete again. His defense has become terrible, and while he’ll probably always get on base, his power is likely to decline significantly as he ages. And he’s not an elite power hitter as it is.

It’s possible that the Reds will be paying 20% of their total salary to a one dimensional player, at just the time that they could use that money to huge effect, either by making a trade and taking on a salary, or by signing a key piece-of-the-puzzle free agent.

Votto has had such an insane second half, if the Reds put him on waivers, he might not clear. A big market team in contention could take on his salary, and if he’s not worth it in a few years, write it off. Votto has a full no-trade clause, but he can’t block being waived, and the most important thing is to take this opportunity and get out from under a bad decision before it haunts the team throughout the rebuild. They may never have another shot at a do-over.

Position 2: Trade Votto to Toronto

Could the Reds have done something different with their payroll since 2012? Sure. But why would they have? As many have pointed out, if anything, Joey Votto is undervalued. In the three healthy years that Votto has had since signing his extension, he’s put up 5.9, 6.6, and 7.6 bWAR. You can debate what that would be worth on the open market to some extent, but a conservative estimate would say that each of those years was worth between $30 and $40 million on the open market, if not more.

The problem isn’t the deal, the problem is the timing of the deal. The Reds front office mismanaged the team, plain and simple. They had a lot of good talent, but they emptied the farm system to try to keep the 2010-2012 team going as long as possible, and that stopped the flow of young talent. That’s the same playbook bad front offices have been using forever, and it leads to one thing: a full-on rebuild.

Because the Reds are in the middle of a full rebuild, they are basically squandering Joey Votto’s prime. Yes, he’s amazing to watch. Yes, the second half of 2016 has been fun, and it can make one hopeful. But in reality, it takes a while to build a serious World Series contender. A recent RLN piece made the comparison between the 2009 team and this year’s 2016 vintage. I think that’s a little optimistic, but even if it’s true, the Reds weren’t a serious contender until 2012. So if the Reds are on a similar path, we could be looking at 2019 and beyond for the next great Reds team.

Joey Votto is 32 now, soon to be 33. In 2019 he’ll be playing his age 35-36 season, and he may still be very good. I think that’s the most likely thing, given that he actively thinks about shaping his skills to age well more than any other player I’ve ever heard about. But 35 is not 28. Votto is very likely to be better in the next 2 years than he will be in the years after that.

Votto’s hometown Blue Jays are currently tied with the Red Sox atop the AL East, a solid 15 games over .500. Their two longtime stars, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, are both going to be free agents after this year, and it’s unlikely that the Jays can hang onto either of them, let alone both. It’s also safe to say that no single player would be as popular if traded to Toronto as Joey Votto would be. This is what they call stars aligning.

Votto would help the Jays immediately, potentially even bring them a World Series. With Votto in the fold, the loss of two big bats wouldn’t hurt so bad, and would allow the Jays to spend their money on players without panicking. Votto has a full no-trade clause, but it’s hard to imagine him declining a chance to play at home, for a team built to win now.

From the Reds perspective, they could get a package of prospects from Toronto that would join the young talent already in the system. This would increase the Reds’ chances of getting a good group of players all up at the same time. It would also free up resources to spend on players once the new-look Reds are really coming together, and the holes can be identified.

Losing Votto and Jay Bruce in the same year would be heartbreaking, but this is about as perfect a win-win as once can imagine, and if the package of prospects offered were good, I think you have to trade him.

Position 3: Don’t Trade Votto

Talking about trading Joey Votto is crazy. It would be like buying a lottery ticket, winning, and then trading that winning ticket for more lottery tickets instead of taking the money. Joey Votto is the most valuable asset the Reds have, by far, bar none, and you don’t let those slip away.

First off, the Reds have money. They could have spent more this year on players, but why bother? It wouldn’t have made a difference, so they saved it. The idea of losing your best player, to save money, when you aren’t spending the money you already have, makes no sense. Revenues are up all over the sport, and by the time the next good Reds team comes alone (which could be as soon as next year) the Reds can crank up the spending again.

Second, as much as Votto is loved by the numbers folks, the real reason to keep Votto through his entire contract is something the stats guys usually hate: the intangibles. Votto is the consummate student of the game. Yes he has talent, but more than any other player I’ve seen, he gets the most out of his talent because he studies the game, and he works hard at it. That is the type of player I want all of the new, younger Reds to be around.

Just this year, Votto took Billy Hamilton under his wing. Now Hamilton is starting to look like the player we all wished he could be. Not only will Votto be playing well for the next good Reds team, he will help make the next good Reds team great by showing all the young players exactly how to get the most out of their talent.

And call me sentimental, but I want Votto to go into Cooperstown as a career Red. Having guys like that adds to the storied history of the franchise, and makes me more proud to be a Reds fan. He’s a great player, he’s worth every penny and more, and in the end he will go down as one of the greatest Reds position players of all time.  How can you let that go for a couple of minor league guys that you don’t know and some money you don’t need?

71 thoughts on “Three Paths For the Reds and Votto

  1. You keep Votto and build around him unless someone makes you an insane offer that you just cant refuse.

    Once Brandon Phillips’ contract comes off the books after next year you get some payroll flexibility back.

    My biggest issue with the FO over the past few years is the Homer Bailey contract. Thats one that not a lot of people are talking about and in my opinion is the one that the Reds FO were a little too aggressive in pursuing.

    • I agree with everything you said. Build around Votto unless we get a huge return headlined by at least one proven Major League player. Phillips coming off the books, combined with the new TV deal will add payroll flexibility for the future.

      I still don’t understand how we gave Bailey 6/$105 million and didn’t even make an offer to Cueto, who signed for 6/$130 million. Perhaps 6/$120 would have signed Cueto (with a “hometown discount”), and he’s obviously much better of a pitcher.

      • Yep. People think Votto cant be a part of the next winning Reds team. This team isn’t that far away. A couple more years at least. Votto can still have a major impact on a good Reds team in the not so distant future.

      • I don’t care for the Bailey contract either but people seem to forget that Cueto had just missed pretty much a full season when Bailey was given that deal. We don’t know what offer(s) was presented to Cueto or Latos. It’s pure speculation to think we may have been able to sign Cueto. The Reds may well have tried.

        • I didn’t mean to sign Cueto at the time we signed Bailey. And it was well reported in this past offseason, including comments from Cueto himself, that the Reds didn’t make an offer to him when he became FA eligible. My point is, if we are comfortable spending that much for Bailey, we should have been willing to at the very least make a reasonable offer to Cueto.

          • One difference in contracts: Bailey was signed to a 5-year extension for ages 29-33. Cueto’s 6-year deal was for ages 30-35.

        • Bailey was signed for what he could do….and can still do….Tommy John happens to 25% of pitchers. I love Cueto and cant say anything negative about him. Lets see how he does through age 35.

        • I’m not just saying the Bailey extension was bad because he had TJ Surgery. Look at their career lines.

          Cueto: 110-74, 3.25 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 1.170 WHIP
          Bailey: 60-53, 4.22 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 1.319 WHIP

          Even if you ignore W/L (because pitcher W/L isn’t a very good stat to measure a pitcher’s effectiveness), Cueto had a career ERA almost a full run lower, with significantly lower FIP and WHIP as well.

          I do agree that Cueto’s age compared to Bailey at the time of the extension could have been a valid factor, but I still don’t think we can discount the fact that Cueto is a top-10 pitcher when healthy, and Bailey has never shown himself capable of being that good, even with the flashes of brilliance he has shown. This is not to say Bailey will never be that pitcher everyone expected him to be, he just hasn’t been that to this point.

          • If you take the four seasons (2010-2013) for Homer Bailey before he signed his contract extension, his FIP was 3.74 and his xFIP was 3.68. Those are comparable to the numbers you cited for Cueto. It’s bad analysis to lump Homer’s 2007-2009 seasons into the numbers you want to use to judge him. By 2013, he was nothing like that pitcher.

            Cueto has been a great pitcher. It’s no knock to not be as good as him. In 2013, coming off the four seasons he’d just had, paying Bailey what they did (not ace money) was reasonable.

            On the other hand, why pay 30-year-old Johnny Cueto even more per year for six years when you know a couple of those for sure are going to be rebuilding years?

  2. I may be incorrect, but I thought I saw a baseball writer say that a 10/5 player is able to block being waived (not DFA, just August trade waivers). Votto will be a 10/5 player after this season, so this may well be their last chance for your option #1. Let me be clear, I also want Votto to be a Cincinnati Red for his entire career, so I am not by any means saying they should try to do this while they still have the chance. Additionally, trading Votto when we are seemingly only a couple years (or maybe even one if everything goes right) from contending for a playoff spot again would probably not be a very smart thing to do, and would set our rebuild back a few years unless we got a return of proven Major League players.

    • I am not a fan of waiving Votto the other 2 options both have merit but a straight up salary dump with your most valuable asset doesn’t make sense. I think the Reds should and probably do listen when teams inquire about Votto. There is something I never see mentioned when talking about JV and his age at the end of this contract. The chances are his skill set will decline below the contract by the end but do you really think he will hang on for the pay check? This man is a professional who takes a lot of pride in his craft, will he hang on and embarrass himself for the sake of a pay check? We are speculating on how he will age, IMO BP who has noticeably declined this year and to a lesser extent last year. He probably still has played up to his contract numbers and all the guru’s knew it was going to be 3 or 4 years of a bad contract! I think the safest route the Reds could take is trade him if the return is decent but my heart says he will adjust with age and he will either walk away or be reasonable on his buy out when the tools are gone. A career Red in the HOF in this age of ME ME ME would be a great thing!!

      • Votto did even say earlier this season that he would rather retire than continue to struggle at the plate like he was the first 2 months. Obviously he turned it around this season, but we have to assume that if he hit a significant decline down the road, he would consider retiring early.

  3. What’s the chance of the DH coming to the NL in the next CBA? Please limit the hate responses. I’m not a fan of the DH and I’m not advocating the DH. Several DH’s have been productive in their late 30’s and one at 40. Would his WAR as a DH justify his salary not knowing where salaries will be in 5 years?

  4. The best argument for #3 is that Votto will remain a bargain for years to come. He was a 7.5 WAR player last year. If he declines by 15% per year, he’ll be a 5.4 WAR player in 2018 and a 4.6 WAR player in 2019. There’s no way to find that much WAR in the free agent market for $25 million/year.

    Votto should be kept because Joey Votto will be the best Reds hitter in 2018 and 2019 and they have no way to replace what he provides for what he costs.

    • Also, I think its important to look at Votto’s skill set and how its one that can hold up against age. OBP is such a huge part of his game and the fact that he is such a good controlled hitter should transition well as he ages.

    • Even though the Reds are probably–barring lots of stellar alignment–not going to be a playoff team in 2017, the are increasingly interesting after a dismal start. Being good and improving is a good thing, to coin a truism, even if it is happening on a third place team. It’s good for the fans, good for us RLN devotees, and very probably good for the young players who will form the next playoff team. Losing JV would reduce the chances of all of those good things happening, in my view. He’ll be good in 3 years, and he will help other players be better than they would otherwise have been.

  5. Joey Votto is not the problem. The team they have now especially after the break is a good team. Need a couple of starting pitchers and will have enough bull pen sdtrenght next season. Hopefully a couple of pitchers can heal up and be ready. Got one pitcher ready to come up next season in the farm system and two for bull pen work. Keep what we have , save the money , and see what we need after next seasons all star break. Either way we are probably looking at 2018 or 2019 before we challenge again for a pennant. Keep what we have and be competitive to keep the stadium packed with fans and make more money instead of bone head moves like we’ve already done the last couple of years.

  6. I don’t understand the last paragraph of Position 1. If Votto does get claimed on waivers, the Reds have to trade him to the other team, which Votto can block with his no trade clause. Or the Reds can release Votto outright in which case they remain on the hook for his entire contract.

    (Don’t we all wish we were represented by a union as strong as the MLBPA.)

    There is no world where the Reds can dump Votto’s contract without a trade, which he can veto. That’s the entire point of a no-trade clause.

    • “If a player is claimed, his team can do one of three things. It can trade the player to the claiming team, revoke the waiver request (in which case the player will remain with his original team), or simply allow the claiming team to take the player and his salary (although a player with no-trade rights can block this from happening).”

      Still seems as if Votto would have to approve it with his no-trade rights though. Another article I saw said that players with 10/5 rights could block the team from simply releasing him and his contract to the other team, but for a normal no-trade clause, that might not be the case. Votto is 10/5 after the season though in any case.

      Source for the above quote: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2016/08/how-august-trades-work-2.html

    • That’s my understanding as well. There is no loop hole to getting around the no-trade clause by waiving him here. If a team claims him, the Reds must trade hime (for a return they like) or pull him back. So a trade in this situation is no different; the no-trade clause would still be operative and Votto could block it. Doh!

      • The Reds are technically allowed to let him be claimed through waivers, which is an entirely different transaction than a trade. He can’t block that. They’d not receive anything in return and the other team would have to entirely assume his contract.

    • The Reds are technically allowed to let him be claimed through waivers, which is an entirely different transaction than a trade. He can’t block that. They’d not receive anything in return and the other team would have to entirely assume his contract.

      • It’s wrong that a player with a no-trade clause can’t block a waiver acquisition. Someone posted the text of the rule on that.

  7. How is ” dumping the contract” even an option? They have to pay him whether he plays for the Reds or not. This isn’t the NFL where you can just cut someone and move on. How would paying Votto 150 million to not play baseball help?

    Trading him would be almost impossible. Think of all that would need to occur:
    1. The Reds would need to find a team willing to part with extremely valuable, cost controlled prospects…..or some multi team deal would need to be put together
    2. Said team would likely need to be in a position to add 22-25 million in payroll as the Reds are unlikely to eat some of Votto’s money or take on some other contracts.
    3. Votto would need to approve the trade. He can simply say no.

    Building around him is the only realistic possibility.

    • By “dumping his contract” I think he meant trade Votto to a team without anything in return. Just get a team to take on his contract from us. At least thats what I hope he meant…

      • Yeah, that’s how I understood it. Check my reply about 3 posts above this for a better explanation of what I think he meant.

  8. Position 3, for a few different reason. First off, Votto will decline. There’s no “if”, “and”, or “but” about it. However Votto posesses a skill-set that tends to decline gracefully rather than fall off a cliff. He is likely to still be a good player in 2019, 2020, 2021. Will the contract be upside down at that point? There is a chance but with the way salaries are rising, one must think that the Reds’ payroll in those years would be at least in the $125-million or higher range. That could still be 20% of the Reds salary but there should still be some room there to pay other decent players.

    Reason number two is that there is a chance that Votto’s rate of decline may even be less steep. Look at what two Rangers who just left town have been doing late in their careers. These guys are still helping a good team get to the playoffs. Beltran is 39 years old and deservedly made his 6th All-Star game. He’s putting up an offensive almost in line with his career numbers. He’s had injuries on and off through his career but for the most part, his decline years have been pretty good. He can DH some now and that helps but he still plays the OF regularly and isn’t a disaster there. Then there is Beltre. The guy is 37 and has been tremendously consistent through his decline years. He’s made an All-Star team and has been in the top 20 in MVP voting twice since he’s been 35. He still plays the field, the hot corner even, almost every day. I know that both Beltre and Beltran have been better fielders than Votto but there is always the DH. Though the DH isn’t in the NL, does anyone really think that it isn’t coming and isn’t coming soon? Isn’t there a good chance that Votto can be like either of these guys in his decline years? Isn’t there even a chance he could be better? There is also the chance that if Votto severely declines he will retire. No, he probably won’t just leave all that money on the table but I’m sure a compromise could be worked out where the Reds may not have to pay him every penny if he decides to retire from the game. Maybe they put him in a front-office position and they can shift some of the money still owned out of the player-personnel budget. Teams do that you know.

    Reason 3 is sentimental. I think there is a fair chance of Votto going to the HoF. At worst, he’s going to be considered a guy who was an exceptional player for a very long time. He’ll also be looked at as the rare exceptional player who has been identified with one and only one team throughout his entire MLB career. Why not have him play out his entire career with the Reds? I would love to see another guy in Cooperstown wearing a Reds cap.

    Of course the Reds should listen to trade offers and if they get blown away by an offer then they should perhaps explore the idea of convincing Votto to waive his no-trade clause. It’s ignorant not to at least be open to the idea. But out of the options presented in this post, option 3 is where I’d go.

  9. “For a team with a payroll that’s usually in the $85-$105 million range”

    That’s now, but I presume that figure will continue to climb over the years. Hopefully, Votto can be the Tom Brady of baseball and play very well nearing 40. $25 m/year won’t look all that bad as salaries continue to rise. I’m more interested in seeing what Billy gets on his next contract.

    If the Reds trade or even attempt scenario #1.. it may be a wound that I never let heal. I don’t even like thinking about it.

    Haters will point to his less than stellar defense.. and it hasn’t been great this year.. but I can live with a below average defender at first with all the amazing things Votto brings to the clubhouse. Haters hate, that’s all they know.

  10. I am in the Keep Votto camp. There is no way to replace his value to the team, the talk about his declining defensive skills and declining power are irrelevant to his value to the club. First his defensive set was never great, maybe better than it is now but, never great. Most of his errors are not skill errors but rather judgment errors, bad throws and bad decisions, often times trying to make a spectacular play. And Second Votto was never a great power hitter, although at least 20 home runs in seven seasons is impressive, I am not sure he should be hitting in the 3 spot now but rather the two spot.
    Otto’s real value to the team is his plate discipline and the fact that he is a guy that pitchers do not want to face in a critical situation, not due to his power but rather his ability to put the ball in play all over the field and work the pitcher. Plus I think right now to be an influence on young hitters. Already he has been cited as helping Billy Hamilton and if I am correct I believe that Duval has mentioned his name in helping him improve his plate discipline. Who knows how much help he can give to guys like Peraza and Suarez along with others.
    Another plus in my opinion is that as he ages at the end of his contract he might be able to step into a player coaching role. He would make an excellent hitting coach.

    • I agree with this, but never realized until now that Sgt. Snorkel’s dog had plate discipline. Most dogs don’t.

  11. Toronto would have to give us half of Canada to get Votto. He will play out his contract if he can stay in excellent condition.

    • Well, the point is, I think, that if the Jays don’t give up much, they would have to assume most or even all of Votto’s contract. … If the Reds want more player value in return, they have to eat more of the contract. Also, after the Jays went out and got players like Tulo and David Price last year, I wonder how much they have available to offer the Reds if they are in ‘win now’ mode.

  12. Option 3, mostly because of the financial environment of the game and the likely environment in the future.

    Short-term hole-fillers (think Marlon Byrd) will be making $15M + per season in 2020-ish. Votto’s contract will really not be onerous, as I expect the Reds to increase their payroll relative to the game’s increasing revenues.

    I feel like the chance to have a “farewell tour” for a potential HOFer would further drive up interest in the team in the last year of Votto’s contract, which would probably drive a small bump in team revenues. This, of course, depends on if Votto can string together 3-4 more years of 5 WAR play before going into huge decline. I think he’ll need 70ish WAR to have a real shot.

    With that said, if you get a good offer for him, you pretty much have to trade him. But, I don’t see the Reds getting a good enough offer. At least not based on my definition of “good enough.”

    • Considering the way many of the Reds trade negotiations have been described to us I would assume it’s hard to find something “good enough” for them either.

  13. As others mentioned, option 1 really isn’t an option.

    I would take option 2, but with the caveat that the Reds only do it if they do not have to eat part of the contract. The salary relief only works if we, you know, get the salary relief.

    Folks seem to think 2018 could be a winner, and 2019 is almost a certainty to have a winner. I would love it to be true, but I find that pretty optimistic.

    I would prefer the Reds build a team to win for a longer window, and I fear Votto would severely hinder any chance for the Reds to win in 2020 and after. Salaries could sky rocket to where Votto’s contract is not as onerous as it would appear now, but even a 2020-21 team with a $150 million payroll would be heavily burdened by Votto’s contract.

    Remember how the Reds went the better part of the most recent winning “window” without any ability to get the left fielder (or rh bat) that was so obviously and desperately needed?

    If we keep Votto, get ready for the same problem to repeat itself in our next ‘wwindow of opportunity’…

  14. Dave Dombrowski, the president of baseball ops in Boston is known for making big moves and the Red Sox could use an upgrade at 1B. Lets pretend that Votto would accept a trade to Boston (obviously a big if). If the Red Sox would send Moncada and Benintindi (both top-10 prospects in MLB not far from the majors) back, and take all of his salary, in exchange for Votto wouldn’t the Reds have to consider that?

    I’m not saying anything like that is realistic but just pointing out that if another team wants to blow you away with a prospect package and pay Votto’s salary then you consider it. Otherwise I’m in the camp of building around one of the best hitters in Reds history.

  15. Good thoughts all around. Yeah, turns out I should have fact checked my waive-Votto friend better. Option 1 isn’t really different from option 2 if the Reds can’t just let the team that claimed Votto have him without Votto’s consent.

  16. I don’t understand option #2 all that well. Who does Toronto have at the ML level or in their minor league system that is even remotely worthy to be included in a Joey Votto trade??? Aaron Sanchez (SP), Rowdy Tellez (1B) and who?? Maybe Sean Reid-Foley (SP). Devon Travis (2B)? Another 2B??
    You’d be giving him away to Toronto.
    Let’s talk Boston or maybe Houston. Both could use a quality 1B and have great farm systems. Boston will even need a new DH next year too. Don’t know how JV would like either of those teams enough to waive any no-trade clauses.
    However, I am firmly in the Don’t Trade Votto camp.

  17. It seems to me a guy like Joey Votto with his work ethic is the lone type of guy a smaller market club should keep around to rebuild. Obviously injuries happen, but I kind of tend to doubt you are going to get a Hall of Fame caliber player back unless some club really screws up. Even with the amount of money he will cost, if he can have some good luck and stay healthy, I got to think Votto in his mid-30s could be still way more productive than most players the Reds could potentially get back.

    The Reds also tend to have some continuity to their clubs, there is usually that one player that is a link between generations of players and Votto is the link in the chain now.

  18. Oh yeah on another point…isn’t that increased cable revenue now kicking in this year or next year too? Votto’s contract as it ages is going to become a better deal I believe…maybe not crazy in the clubs favor like Bonds was in the last few years of his monster deal, but I think it has a chance of paying out anyway.

    • Correct, we will have a new TV deal either after this season or after next season, I can’t remember which.

  19. Votto’s contract will look OK if he ages gracefully and avoids serious injury. The Reds new cable TV contract and increased revenues from MLB will allow the Reds to increase annual payroll to $150 million and maybe a little more. Unfortnately other teams will get more money too. That said $25 million per year scalar arise will be rather common by 2020. $40+ million contracts per year are coming. Players are already over $30 million The Bailey contract seems rich me given the age and injury risk pitchers face. Unlike Votto Homer has a much less impressive track record. Going forward the best approach is to continue a focus on smart drafting and player development. Having a fresh supply of young talent in the pipeline limits the need to over pay players that are best traded or let to walk as a free agent. Keeping a few of the best players for the long term is wise as it helps fans stay committed. Every team needs players fans can be proud of for what they accomplish on the field.

  20. I’m usually pretty open to the idea of trading anyone for right reason, but this time I’m staying selfish. I want to watch/listen to Joey Votto hit for as long as I can, and I want that to be for the Reds. The Reds need to look for more Votto types, not less.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what their original scouting on him was? If he’s defied their expectations in some way from their first hopes of what he was “supposed to be”… because while I realize Joey is an elite (yes Marty, I said elite!) and rare talent, I wonder what skill set they admired about him that they stink at finding since that time. I want “Joey Like” players even if that by nature means “Joey Light”

  21. Phillips 14 million next year and Mesoraco 13 million in 2018 are the outliers now.
    Votto has come back from his 2014 injury to his 2010 MVP form. If Homer returns to his 2012 form, his contract is fine.

    • For what you get that Phillips contract is awful. If Mesoraco stays hurt, that contract is really tough also. I hope Meso is able to recover and provide some kind of value for that. Easy to hindsight the Meso contract, but that Phillips extension was terrible when it was signed.

      • Yes. I think the Phillips deal was especially bad, compounded when the Reds didn’t trade him before his 10 and 5 rights kicked in. And it came after Phillips had called the owner a liar for supposedly saying they didn’t have the money to extend him, but then worked the deal with Votto.

  22. I would prefer Votto stays as the centerpiece of the Reds next contending team unless they are offered a trade package they can’t refuse and Votto gives the ok. Perhaps something like 1971 when two All-Stars, Lee May and Tommy Helms, were sent to Houston for Joe Morgan and Cesar Geronimo among others. Of course, in those days, fans were convinced the Reds had been fleeced.

    • May and Helms were popular players,and even Jimmy Stewart, the so-called ‘super-sub’ for his ability to back up so many positions, was pretty highly thought of. He also went to Houston.

      I was pretty young then, don’t recall how much the media played up (or down) the value of the players the Reds received, but the trade came as quite a surprise.

  23. How about Position 4 (Position 3+)? Sign him to a lifetime extension as a coach/consultant when his playing days are over, and hope he will be active as long as Vin Scully has been. Seems to be paying dividends with Billy.

  24. Obviously RLN loves to discuss trades & building the next Big Red Machine. But, teams can be built around aging stars and there are plenty of examples where an aging star is not just a positive impact, but a key contributor despite their relatively “large” salary and dipping, later-career statistics.
    Sure, injury could happen, but the sun may not come up tomorrow also. We can’t predict how Joey’s career will work out. But, if you have a player that shows a combination of abilities, desire, leadership & character – you keep him… period. The adage still holds, “If you want to be a winner, surround yourself with winners.”
    Here are some bigger money players for WS champions – some hired guns & some long-termers with one team. David Ortiz – 2013 Sox, Chris Carpenter (2011 Cards), Johnny Damon (2009 Yankees), Tim Salmon (2002 Angels), Ivan Rodriguez (2002 Marlins), Paul O’Neill (NY Yankees for many years), Kent Hrbek (91 Twins) – and those are just the WS winners. I’m sure the list of playoff & contender teams would increase the size of this list 30X.

    • While I agree with you, to a certain extent, I have two problems with building around aging stars. 1). It’s expensive–too expensive, probably. 2). If you made a list of aging players who were not positive additions to their teams, I expect that it would dwarf the list you compiled. That said, Votto, as one aging star, will probably add a lot of value to the Reds’ chances for years to come.

  25. Even me the anti Votto compared to most here would think trading him is a bad idea. Build you house around him.

  26. Keep Votto. For all the reasons listed above, and one that is purely selfish. Votto may be the last Red in my lifetime to play his whole career in Cincinnati and wear a Reds cap in the hall of fame. I’d really like to see that happen. Plus, he’s really good. The best hitter in baseball for a couple months now. I don’t see any decline yet, which strongly suggests to me that the inevitable decline will be very gradual. He’ll be good value for the contract on the field, and add even more off it. Go Joey, Go Reds!

  27. I could now see a trade for Votto, but only if the right package came along. I don’t believe it would be salary dump, though. I can’t help thinking you don’t trade a player of this caliber, though. I wouldn’t have signed him for as long as we did, I believe.

  28. Daugherty wrote a column on Votto today in the bird cage liner. He moaned about baseball’s financial structure which is an issue. He offered nothing of value on the Votto situation. Most of us on this site would keep Votto and try to build around him.. Daugherty seems to argue for trading him and using the freed up money to sign other players. He does not seem to understand any good player will cost millions and he is only available because the team that had him did not wish to pay him what he wanted. Daugherty loves his Bengals and his streaming internet show so he will soon be occupied with that. He views Bengals players as intelligent and engaging and they respond well to his entertaining questions and astute observations.

  29. I’d really hate to see Votto leave, but …

    If the Reds could get a valuable prospect for Votto + $25M, I think Position 2 is best for the team — and the player, probably — in the long run. I think Votto is good for ~18 WAR 2017-2024, but if he stays, a lot of that will be before the Reds are serious contenders again.

  30. SHOWOPS is on the right track, but why wait till “his playing days are over” to put him in such a role? As long as he’s an everyday player, make him player/hitting coach; then player/manager.

  31. The fan in me wants option 3. I just worry about injuries. Looking on baseball reference the players most similar to JV at age 31 are : Todd Helton, Jason Giambi, Magglio Ordonez, Matt Holiday, and Justin Morneau. As someone who desperately hopes Joey Votto can stay healthy and be productive through the rest of his career, this scares the bejezus out of me. For every Adrian Beltre there are ten Ryan Klesko’s or Mark Texiera’s, guys who are capable of having that 7 WAR year at age 35, followed up by a .4, 1, and -.7 years due to injuries and end up retired at age 38. I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed but I would be shocked if Joey Votto plays out his contract. It sucks but avoiding injuries as you age probably just comes down to luck more than anything.

  32. I’m of the position 3 stance. No surprise to some of you, I’m sure. And it’s only partly to do with the fact that he’s my favorite player. But, he’s mine (and a lot of Reds fans favorite player) bcuz he’s so good. He’s the kind of player that don’t really come along that often, especially to a small market team such as Cincinnati. He’s the kind of player you build around. So, no matter how much sense it may make to get rid of Votto, I say so what! Sometimes what makes sense isn’t always right. Sometimes you just keep a fan favorite to please the other half of your fan base. Look, we got a lot of young talent in the trades that have been already made. As much as I was against this rebuild, I do have to say that the young talent we acquired will come together and make us good again (eventually) and it could be sooner than what everyone thinks. Anything can happen. Now, the final point I want to make is something that Votto had said earlier this season (you know what I’m talking about) when he was struggling. He said (for those of you who don’t know), that he would rather retire than to keep struggling like he was. Now, anyone who knows me even a little, knows that I tend to be a bit of a pessimist. And the pessimistic view of this statement is that there’s no way in hell that Votto would just walk away from all that money! Bcuz of my pessimistic tendencies I have to admit that there’s a part of me that believes that he won’t just walk away from all that money. BUT, there’s just something about Votto and the way he said that that leads me to believe that he was sincere about that statement. I don’t know exactly what it is other than the fact that Votto has been somewhat unpredictable at times throughout his career. I don’t think anyone really knows what Votto will or won’t do. But there’s just something about the way he said that that leads me to believe he’s sincere. IF, that is true, then there’s always the possibility that IF Votto struggles mightily towards the end of his contract to the point that he feels that he can’t “break out of it”,that he’ll just walk away therefore giving that money back to the Reds. Now could I be wrong about this and Votto, certainly! And if I am I will be a little disappointed in Votto. I mean, he could change his mind, we as human beings certainly have that right. But, for now I’m gonna choose to believe in Votto. But bcuz he IS a student of the game I think his skills will age well. I believe that Votto can adapt with the best of them. I recently read an article about Votto that he’s one of the games greatest all-time hitters. He was in the top 5 (at number 4 to be exact) in career OPS+ (I think it was). Votto is a primo talent that needs to be built around so it is my hope that the Reds will keep Votto until he retires. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that Larkin retired a lifetime Red rather than be traded to another team. I think Votto could be in that same mold (again, I could be wrong) . But no matter what, I hope people shut up about trading him and/or wanting him gone. Just leave it and him alone. We got a lot of young talent anyway that will lead us back to prominence. Keeping Votto won’t stop that, I can almost guarantee it (again, anything can happen though…and that’s the negative side of that statement) .

      • That’s CAREER wRC+! I don’t know where he’s at in career OPS+. Article only pointed out career wRC+.

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