Trading Joey Votto

Heard this: over the weekend, Buster Olney tweeted: “Rival executives getting signals that the Reds won’t shop Joey Votto — but that they are fully prepared to listen to offers.” While the tweet does not come close to saying that Votto was up for grabs (“they’re willing to listen, I’ve never heard that before!”), it generated a substantial amount of buzz across the internet. Votto is one of the best hitters in baseball and he is in his prime (he just turned 28). Earlier this season, Dave Cameron ranked Votto seventh in his most recent installment of his annual trade value rankings. What sort of return can the Reds expect if they trade Votto during the coming off-season?

In case you have been living under a rock, Votto followed up his 2010 National League Most Valuable Player campaign with a 2011 that was almost as good. It was his third season in an row with a wOBA over .400 (career .408). Over the last three seasons, Votto has been the third most valuable position player in baseball according to Wins Above Replacement. The only hitters with a better wRC+ over that period are Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera. In short, Votto is an amazing talent.

For trade purposes, we are interested less in what Votto has already done and more in what he is likely to do in the near future, his true talent. As a hitter, Votto has an impressive combination of skills. He has impressive power to all fields. Unlike many sluggers, he keeps his strikeout rate at about league average. However, Votto is no hacker, and has had walk rates almost double the league average over the last two seasons. That would be enough to make him a good hitter, but he also manages high BABIPs. While BABIP is subject to more random fluctuation than other components, it is only one part of Votto’s offensive game, and after three years in a row with BABIPs of .349 or higher, his BABIP skill seems to be on the high end. At 28, he is not likely to get any better, but it is not as if he is on the steep part of the decline, either. Oliver’s 2012 forecast for Votto is for a .403 wOBA (.306/.399/.535). That is about 48 runs above average in this run environment.

Votto is generally considered to be a good defensive first baseman by both scouts and metrics, although the spread in talent between the best- and worst-fielding first baseman is not as great as at other positions. He is probably a couple of runs above average in terms of true talent. An aspect worth looking at more closely in Votto’s case is his injury history, or, more properly, his relative lack thereof. Despite various dings and day-to-day issues that most players deal with, the only time that I can find that Votto has ever been in the disabled list was a period in 2009 when he was dealing with depression. Obviously we are aware that this is a serious issue that has to be dealt with properly. However, it is not a physical issue in the same sense as a shoulder or leg injury that might directly effect Votto’s ability to do his job. There are treatments available to deal with it, and, in Votto’s case, he has been able to do his job, and do it quite well. I am not trying to dig into Votto’s personal life, I simply bring this up to point out that 2009 was the only season since Votto has been a full-time major league player that he has played less than 150 games, and even then he played 131. I rarely feel like projecting a player to play 150 or more games going forward, but in Votto’s case, I think it is a fairly safe projection given his age, good physical health, and recent performance.

For those who really want to see the “math”: +48 offense +2 fielding -12.5 first base positional adjustment + 20 NL replacement level all adjusted for 90 percent playing time puts his 2012 projection at a bit over 5.5 wins above replacement. That is outstanding. Votto has two years and $26.5 million remaining on his current contract. With a relatively conservative average cost of a win of about $5.5 million, a small average annual increase of 7%, and a typical rate of attrition, if Votto were to get an “average” deal on the free agent market this off-season lasting only two years, it would be worth about $60 million dollars. That leaves about $35 million dollars worth of surplus value.

[I am leaving aside any potential draft pick compensation for Votto post-2013 since that is something that may very well change in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Adjust your expectations up accordingly if you think that will be a factor.]

What does that mean in terms of possible return on prospects? Looking at this summary of Victor Wang’s research from a couple of seasons ago, one finds that $35 million dollars in surplus is approximately the average surplus value of the most coveted sort of prospects — i.e. top-10 hitting prospects. Another way of looking at it that might be more helpful in concrete terms would be to compare the Votto situation to a recent trade that involved high-end prospects. In July 2010, Cliff Lee was traded to by the Mariners to the Rangers with just half a season (at $9 million) left on his contract. There seems to have been a pretty established value for Lee at that point, as the Mariners got back Justin Smoak plus two potentially useful parts, choosing that over a similar offer from the Yankees of Jesus Montero and two possibly helpful pieces.

The point is not whether the Mariners made the right choice, but the established value of half a season of Lee (who was making the same salary in 2010 as Votto will in 2011): top-10 hitting prospect close to the majors plus a couple of decent additions. Votto and Lee are roughly comparable in terms of their on-field value. However, remember that a) a team getting Votto would be getting him for all of 2012 as opposed to just a half-season as in Lee’s case, and at about the same 2012 salary as Lee in 2010; and b) the receiving team would also get him in 2013 at $17 million, which only seems steep if one ignores that Votto will still likely be at least a five-win player — which means at least another $10-$15 million in surplus. Put simply, there is probably at least twice the surplus value available with Votto as there was for Lee, and the Reds should be looking for an appropriate return.

Does that mean the Reds should hold out for, say, two of the top ten hitting hitting prospects in baseball and change for Votto, or a top hitting prospect and top pitching prospect? It would be nice, but that is not likely to happen for several reasons. There simply are not teams that have that kind of talent in their system. Even if they did, teams are more wary than ever of trading away cost-controlled talent for relatively short-term gain. There are very few teams who would be both willing and able to “double” the Smoak and Montero packages, even for an outstanding talent like Votto.

Of course, the Reds do not have to limit themselves to prospects; they could get some help already in the majors. Who that is depends on just what the Reds think their needs are (pitching, anyone?). Perhaps (just as one example) a package of one good major-league player already signed to a team-friendly contract and some prospects might make more sense as a way for the Reds to get value without having to demand two top prospects and change.

Although I have some teams in mind, I do not want to get into speculation, especially since, as noted above, “willing to listen” does not mean much as far as trade rumors go. Instead, I will simply note four conditions that an appropriate trade partner for the Reds on Votto probably needs to meet: 1) the team getting Votto needs to believe they can contend in 2012 and/or 2013 (after which Votto will be a premier free agent); 2) the team needs to have an open spot at first base or the ability to make space there (this is a bit tougher than just bumping a number five starter out of the rotation); 3) the team needs to have very good prospects and/or good players signed to team-friendly contracts that they are willing to move and that they can contend without in 2012 and 2013; 4) the team needs to have space on their projected 2013 payroll for Votto’s $17 million contract.

A number of teams can meet two of those conditions, but finding teams that meet three or four of them gets progressively more difficult. But if the Reds really are doing more than just “listening,” they are still doing the right thing by doing it while Votto is still in his prime with has two big years of surplus value left rather than one. After all, the Reds do not have to trade Votto this off-season. Starting to field offers now not only gives them a potentially greater return, but allows them time (i.e., prior to the next trading deadline or off-season) to sift through different offers to find the best fit for their needs, and also to compare the return and their team situation with what they might get for Yonder Alonso, whose presence is the main reason the Reds might feel better about trading Votto.

The early bird does not always get the worm, but getting up earlier certainly helps. If the Reds had given Votto an extension prior to his 2010 MVP campaign, they would probably be in a better position to keep him beyond 2013 at an affordable price, or at least wait longer to trade him and/or get a larger return. Hindsight is always perfect, of course. In the present, by fielding offers for Votto now (and perhaps comparing them with offers for Alonso at the same time), the Reds give themselves an additional window prior to future trade deadlines and the 2012-2013 off-season to negotiate the difficult task of finding a good match rather than getting into a situation where they end up with a pu-pu platter ([c] Bill Simmons, Honor on the Internet!) for one of the best hitters in the game.




Print This Post



Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.


101 Responses to “Trading Joey Votto”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. CircleChange11 says:

    Is this how TOR acquires their 1B? Isn’t Votto from Canada?

    Wow, that would really put some dampness on the Fielder-Pujols FA opportunities.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Jeff says:

    I think the Blue Jays meet all four, plus they have the allure of adding the top Canadian in MLB. For that reason, he is worth more to them than any other team.

    And before Blue Jays fans start writing about how Snider and Drabek is plenty to give up, ill say this: Walt Jocketty isnt going to get excited, until he hears the words “A package built around Ricky Romero”.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dave Cameron says:

      Try Brett Lawrie. Romero’s a nice piece, but he’s a +3 to +4 win pitcher with a 4 year, $28 million contract. That’s well below market value, but not such a large cost savings as to be worth a guy like Votto.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jeff says:

        Dave,

        Don’t the Blue Jays have enough good prospects to add with a guy like Romero?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Dave Cameron says:

        I’d imagine other teams would outbid them if all they were willing to offer was “Romero + prospects”.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • joser says:

        Getting Joey Votto by giving away Brett Lawrie doesn’t net them any progress. The end up with the same amount of Canadian Content as they started with. The whole point of Jeff’s subthread here is that the Blue Jays are cornering the market on Canadian talent. But the only way they get ahead of the other teams in exploiting this undervalued asset is if they lock it all up; they can’t just tread water while they’re trying to accumulate hOSR.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jeff says:

        Further to joser, Not only would giving up Lawrie be taking a side-ways step (at least from a rogers/business perspective), they would also be giving up 7 years of lawrie, who presuambly will be signed shortly to a long term deal. The end goal here, if i am the owner, would be to have the top two Canadian position players anchoring the corner of my infield.

        Nothing AA has done surprises me anymore, so if he pulled this off at some point, it would not surprise.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bret says:

      And that’s the biggest challenge with a deal for a player as valuable as Votto. Jocketty certainly has a right to demand players like Romero, but of course, the Jays trading for Votto would be a “win-now” move, and is why trading prospects or guys yet to prove themselves is pretty much the only way for an acquiring team to go.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • UncleBob says:

      Five years of Romero is likely worth more than 2 years of Votto. I don’t think it’s feasible for the Jays to acquire Votto at this time if that’s what Joketty is looking for (and it likely is).

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bear says:

      Votto to TO would be an outstanding move for both teams.
      Votto is actually a native Torontonian.
      They could offer the Reds fair value and extend Votto.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Omar says:

    At first I thought this was a fantasy baseball article.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Mike says:

    Tampa Bay is the most logical choice here. Yes, his salary is strong compared to their overall budget, but he is an elite bat at an under the the market contract for TWO years. Number one, Tampa needs offense. Second, they have a ton of prospects, both pitching and position. Not all of those prospects are going to be as good as everyone hopes they will be, that’s just the way those things go. Tampa’s scouts have been amazing finding new talent every year, so giving up four prospects is more easily dealt with. Third, because he is signed for two years, if things don’t work out this year (or even if they do), they could then deal him to clear up that salary and replenish the system. Tampa cannot sign big time free agents; the only way at talent like this is through a trade, and because Votto is signed for multiple years at a reasonable salary compared to his actual value, he is the perfect player to seek in a trade. If they don’t cash in on some of these prospects sooner or later, they become the Angels of the early 2000’s (a bunch of highly touted players (Kendrick, Aybar, Wood, McPherson, Kotchman, etc.), non of which have become stars, minus Weaver)).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jeff says:

      Tampa cannot afford to pay one player $17mm in 2013.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Stringer Bell says:

      Would a Tampa package of Hellickson, Jennings, and Lee work? Or would they have to include Matt Moore instead of Hellickson?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ryan says:

      I think you are a spot on with Tampa.
      Probably a package built around a top pitcher not named Matt Moore along with Robinson Chirinos and one of their SS, also including a raw, young bullpen arm and another piece.
      Depending on whether the Reds kick in any money would probably dictate how good that pitching prospect would be.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Drew says:

      ZERO percent chance of this happening. They have the pieces but not the budget

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jono411 says:

      Shields for Votto. Who says no?

      (the total money matches up almost exactly, but 2 years of control for votto vs. 3 for shields)

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jono411 says:

        care to explain why? same money, and they both project to provide the same amount of value in their remaining team controlled years (~10-12 WAR).

        shields fills a big hole for cincy (top of rotation starter), and alonso slides in to 1st.

        rays have enough pitching depth to deal with losing shields, and votto provides a big upgrade at one of their weakest positions.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Pete says:

        The Reds.

        First, I doubt they “project” to have the same WAR over the lives of their current contracts, unless you take the lazy way out and say “Shields has averaged just under 4 WAR and Votto just under 6″ because Votto is 2 years younger.

        Second, a 6 win player (Votto’s been a 7 win player the last 2 years, actually) is much more valuable than a 4 win player (and remember, Shields was a 2 win player in ’10). By your reasoning, the Reds should trade Votto straight up for a projected rookie starter (6 years of control, 2 WAR/season). That’s laughable.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jono411 says:

        well a 6 WAR player is 1.5 times as valuable as a 4 WAR player. and 2 years of a 6 WAR player is as valuable as 3 years of a 4 WAR player. i know some people argue that WAR shouldn’t be valued linearly, but MLB teams pay for it linearly in free agency, so i see no reason why they wouldn’t pay for it linearly in trades as well.

        and why is that laughable (well other than the fact that current wins are slightly more valuable than future wins). you think the mariners should trade ackley for votto? when was the last time you saw a position player with 5+ years of remaining service time, who had already established himself as an average to above-average mlb player, get traded?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jeff says:

        Neither team. There is a reason they will consider trading Shields, and that is to LOWER THE PAYROLL.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Bret says:

    The article focuses on the Cliff Lee trade as somewhat of a comparison, where the Mariners got essentially an elite prospect – top 10 in all of baseball – and some extra, somewhat useful but lightly valuable players.

    The Roy Halladay and Adrian Gonzalez deals of the past two offseasons are comparable as well, where it was a package of 3 very good prospects, arguably all top-100 prospects, but no “elite” ones (at the time of the trade).

    Of course, Votto comes with an extra year of control than any of those three did, but expecting 6 top-100 prospects is going to be pretty much impossible for any team to meet, even if one were willing.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bill says:

      The Halladay trade doesn’t work as the Blue Jays had no leverage in that trade. Halladay didn’t give them a lot of options.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Brian says:

        Technically, the Roy Halladay still had one more year left on his contract so the Blue Jays could have kept him up until the trade deadline.

        It’s just GM AA wanted to give Halladay some more time to adjust to life in Philidelphia (ex. find a good home, school for his kids, etc.) so he made the trade earlier in the off-season (Dec. 15).

        The Blue Jays had their fair share of leverage, but decided against to use it, in order to maintain good PR.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. SC2GG says:

    Being as the Blue Jays are one of the teams you likely have in mind, much like Jays fans as a whole have had a lot of discussion about trading for the hometown boy Votto for some time now. Of your conditions that would make it worthwhile, the only thing that currently stands in the way is the Jays apparent inability to contend in 2012, with what the fans perceive as 2013 being the beginning of the contention period.

    In fact, over on BlueBirdBanter (the SB Nation Jays Blog), this exact discussion is already taking place (http://www.bluebirdbanter.com/2011/10/8/2478007/rival-executives-getting-signals-that-the-reds-wont-shop-joey-votto#comments) for what must be the 3rd time in the last little bit.

    Jays Comparison Rundown
    1) Contend in 2012 / 2013 – Well, they’d be in a much greater position to contend with Votto on the team, but Votto can’t pitch so it’s still not going to fix that problem.

    2) Spot at 1B – Adam Lind is the incumbent. In other words, 1B is open.

    3) Good prospects and/or team friendly contracts they can do without in 12/13 – The Jays have an abundance of these, thanks to a smart GM.
    This one really depends on what the Reds themselves need, so let’s take a look at that, direct from the BBB Thread linked above (credit to TtD, who visits FanGraphs sometimes I’m sure):

    Positions of Need: SS(depending on Cozart’s injury)/3B/LF/SP
    Minors weaknesses:OF/SP/3B
    Minors stengths:C (comparable with the Jays)/1B
    Deal Focus:After MLB ready assets

    What can the Jays offer?
    SS – Would the Jays part with Yunel Escobar, who has the maybe the most team-friendly contact in all of MLB?
    3B – It’s probably a no go on trading Brett Lawrie.
    LF – The Jays have a bunch of seemingly high impact OFs in the minors, with Bautista and Rasmus penciled in with the big club. With Gose and Rasmus playing the same position, there is potential there.
    SP – Similar to the OF, the Jays minor league system is stacked with SP prospects. If you keep track of the Jays at all, you’ll know the names.

    So overall, the Jays prospects and friendly contracts seem to match up with the Reds needs.

    4) Payroll Space – Of all the non-evil empire teams in the league, the Jays are in one of the best positions given owner wealth and dedication to increase team payroll.

    Now, I don’t track the other teams as well as the Jays, I don’t know all their prospects, but I do know the other teams that have top-level farm systems ratings, and those teams don’t seem to match up as well as the Jays in other areas. It seems like the two squads are definitely among the best matched to make a deal, given that both have intelligent management in place as well.

    But then, who’s to say?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Kampfer says:

      I always have an impression that Jays produces good starters like pitchers grow on trees in Toronto.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eric says:

      Who said that getting Votto would be the last move the Jays would make this OS? AA has already said that SP is the top priority. Why are u making dumb assumptions?

      -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Garrett says:

    I suppose St. Louis acquiring Votto to replace Pujols would be out the window, right? Too bad they are rivals and in the same division, St. Louis has some nice young arms (Miller, Martinez) in their farm system, and Votto would be the right price for St. Louis to add another two years of contending with Berkman/Votto/Holliday in the heart of the order.

    Although if Pujols walks, it probably makes much more sense to just shift Berkman to 1B and go after a corner outfielder.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Blackie says:

      Of all the unlikely intra-divisional trades, this has to be near the top of the list. Would YOU want to face Votto 15 or 16 times a year if you were the reds?

      I’m with you on next year if Pujols departs. Makes the most sense to move Berkman to 1B and let Craig take over RF. I’m not sure Berkman can replicate this season again, but not having him lumber around the OF can’t hurt, and I’m very intrigued by the prospect of a full season of Craig.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. ecp says:

    I’m not sure that, in an offseason that also contains the free agencies of Prince Fielder and Albert Pujuls, that the Reds would get the best offer for Votto now. Maybe at the deadline next July?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dave Cameron says:

      Besides Toronto, there probably isn’t much crossover in teams that would be bidding for Pujols/Fielder and trading for Votto. The market for Votto is all the teams with talent to surrender who can’t afford $25 million per year for a first baseman, and the demand among those teams for a player of this caliber would be extremely high.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tdotsports1 says:

        Toronto will not be bidding on either Fielder or Pujols, AA has pretty much gone on record as saying that.

        Now Votto would be intriguing for Jays nation.

        I wonder if Drabek, Gose and H.Alvarez gets the discussion started?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • mister_rob says:

        Then narrow it down again to teams that have a chance of contending in the next 2 years, because after that Votto becomes one of those 25m 1bmen

        So, teams that have talent to give up, cant afford prince, have a chance at competing in the next 2 years, and dont currently have a good 1b.

        pretty narrow market

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Blackie says:

        “there probably isn’t much crossover”

        Exactly my thought.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Matt says:

    the giants?
    They desperately need some pop in their lineup, and they have belt.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jeff says:

      Bingo.
      Belt and Wheeler, err, ahh, oops. They already gave Wheeler away for nothing…

      Anyway, Reds have Yonder. I think Jocketty needs to the hear the words “Cain” or “Bumgarner” if the conversation were to continue.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • AK707 says:

        Bumgarner has too many years of control left, and is def “MLB ready” I think the giants would blink first on that one. Cain doesn’t have enough years of control left, reds would blink. Giants system is bare besides. I can’t wrap my head around them making this trade, especially since Votto isn’t enough of an upgrade over Belt to be worth Bumgarner grade talent.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jeff says:

        Belt has done almost nothing in MLB, is no sure thing, and Votto is an enormous upgrade over a rookie like Belt.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Blackie says:

        “They already gave Wheeler away for nothing…”

        I was just thinking when the Votto trade meme got rolling that SF would have been a good fit if they hadn’t already dealt Wheeler. He and Belt would have been a sound basis for a deal.

        “Votto isn’t enough of an upgrade over Belt”

        Hahahahahahahahahahahaha

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Jeff says:

    Wow, that Bluebirdbanter page sure sucks. The “chat/forum” software is AWFUL.

    One additional thing to keep in mind with Votto — he may not want to play in his hometown. I remember people in baseball saying that Bedard is a quiet guy that had no interest in the spotlight of playing in his hometown. I wonder if Votto looks at it the same way. He already seems a little like the “reluctant MVP”.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • SC2GG says:

      I don’t participate in BBB discussions because the forum thing is indeed terribad, yea. It’s the same format for all the SB Nation pages, unfortunately. I’m certain the guys who manage the BBB page also would like SB Nation to make a better forum/posting system.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eric says:

      So you assume that because 1 player doesn’t want to play in his hometown, all players wouldn’t want to play in their hometown? How dumb is that.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Andre says:

        I think with Votto’s history with depression it’s something to consider. Though there are simple, highly effective and natural treatments for depression (omega 3 supplements), so he’s probably fine

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • André says:

        Andre, I didn’t realize depression had been cured. Alert the Nobel Prize committee!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Blackie says:

      “he may not want to play in his hometown.”

      Actually, Votto has explicitly said that he wants to play in Canada as an example to Canadian kids. I’ve been fully expecting him to explore the possibility after 2013, though I don’t think he’d necessarily take a homeland discount.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. TK says:

    I think people need to stop looking at Buster Olney as a legitimate source for trade rumors. He seems to have a lot of these nonsensical rumors about players that are absolutely not going to be traded, and then people run with it like it is a real story. The Reds have absolutely no good reason to trade Votto right now as they have a chance to contend. The fact that they are “willing to listen” is basically a meaningless statement.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Brad Johnson says:

      “The Reds have absolutely no good reason to trade Votto right now as they have a chance to contend.”

      Votto is somewhat expensive from the Reds perspective. They have an acceptable backup in place. He is at the height of his value. There is the risk that he could get hurt and lose all value.

      These are good reasons to consider trading Votto. This is also a team that got 7 WAR out of its pitching staff. If they can acquire 3 cost controlled 3 WAR SPs, an extra fire arm for the pen, and a B+/A- prospect, they’d come out ahead.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • TK says:

        13 million dollars is not expensive for any team for your best player, an acceptable backup is not a good reason to trade someone, being at the height of his value is actually a good reason to keep him, and he is about as low risk as you can get for a top asset. I just don’t see why a team that thought it could contend would get rid of one of the best players in baseball, especially when they could wait another season and still get a huge return unless Votto regresses, which is about as unlikely for him as any other top talent in baseball in my opinion.

        I think the Reds would be really stupid to trade Votto right now and I doubt they are stupid.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Blackie says:

        “13 million dollars”

        where did that number come from? Are you averaging his next two years’ salaries? That’s not really how it works…

        I agree that cost is not the issue at the moment. It will be under his next contract, which will be his “big” one in baseball parlance. The term of this contract seemed very clearly calculated to leave him in position for a big score while providing reasonable short term comfort and security.

        I also agree that discusions around trading him have a great deal to do with whether or not the Reds feel they can contend in the next two years. If they can, then Votto is crucial. I do wonder if this year’s setbacks and regression (or simple failures to step forward on the part of key young players) have planted the seed in management’s mind that they need additional depth to contend in a couple of years. Bruce and Cueto just signed multi-year deals and Alonso and Mesoraco have years of team-friendly cost. If trading Votto secures additional cost-controlled talent that jibes with the timeline of these players and ensures the team’s ability to sign Brandon Phillips (aka the elephant in the room), then it’s not “stupid”.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bill says:

      If the Reds make this trade it has to be for major league ready pitching, right? I thought the whole reason why they were even considering this is that they need pitching and they don’t have any top tier pitching prospects to help out. They trade Votto for a top pitching prospect or two, move up Alonzo, and become a better team.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Brad Johnson says:

    The Nationals seem to have a nice surplus of ML ready pitching that they could send over. They lack an expendable elite prospect to offer, but you’d have to think that Tommy Milone, Brad Peacock, and Ross Detwiler would be a good start to an offer. I don’t think the Nationals view any of those players as long term components. I get the sense that they want to operate similarly to the Phillies where they trade all of their good but not elite prospects for top end ML talent.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Andre says:

      The problem with that is a guy named Michael Morse, who put up numbers not that far off from Votto in 2011. Morse is a 1B they have playing left field right now to keep 1B open for Adam LaRoche, and putting up horrid UZR to show for it. Watching him live confirms – he’s a 1B playing outfield. No range at all.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Blackie says:

      “you’d have to think that Tommy Milone, Brad Peacock, and Ross Detwiler”

      No one “has” to think that. That is a ridiculous offer, even as a starting point. This is the downside of these rumors: endless homertastic trade proposals that have no basis in reality.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Ryan says:

    If Loria wanted to make his big splash, could Votto make sense? It wouldn’t be a big commitment financially, will make the Marlins instantly legitimate, and will provide almost as big a splash as signing Fielder/Pujols while spending nearly 150-200 million less.

    A package built around Matt Dominguez and Logan Morrison, including 1 SP lower ceiling/closer to MLB ready, 1 SP/higher ceiling/far from MLB, and a bullpen arm.

    I think that’s a pretty nice package for the Reds and I bet Loria would love to get rid of Morrison (crazy as it is).
    Think that would be enough for the Reds?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Mike says:

    Dave –

    I know Matt wanted to refrain from doing this, but would you mind giving a few examples of teams that could be considered legitimate candidates to make a run at Votto, and have the necessary pieces to compensate the Reds for his services? I know you used the Mariners as an example in a USSM post, but are there any other teams off the top of your head that could be a potential fit?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bret says:

      The Blue Jays strike me as the best fit because of a clear need at first base, young talent/prospects to trade, and (in my opinion at least) the ability to compete with Votto added. The second best might be the Athletics, who, despite having a bunch of 1B options, don’t really have a dependable one. They definitely could make a pitching-based offer that satisfies Cincinnati.

      Then there’s a group of teams that probably have the talent to make the trade, but their need isn’t as obvious: Mariners (Smoak, timetable?), Rangers (Moreland/Napoli/Young), Giants (Belt), Diamondbacks (Goldschmidt?), Marlins (Sanchez/LoMo?).

      After that you get a group that could use Votto, but I’m not so sure have the prospects to deal for him (my opinion only): Dodgers, Brewers, Indians (after the Ubaldo trade). The Rays might fit into this category, but with money as the hindrance over talent.

      The Cubs and Nationals belong somewhere here, but it’s hard to know their direction, and if they see the next two years as potential contention years.

      In total, that’s 13 teams that could be fits, though there’s questions for most of them: Blue Jays, Athletics, Mariners, Rangers, Giants, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Dodgers, Brewers, Indians, Rays, Cubs and Nationals.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Dave Cameron says:

    The best recent comparable trade is almost certainly the deal that sent Mark Teixeira to Atlanta. It’s not a perfect comparison, as Teixeira was traded mid-season and wasn’t as good as Votto is now, but it should give you an idea of what multiple years of a premium young first baseman commands as a trade chip.

    In return for Teixeira, the Braves gave up (using 2008 pre-season BA rankings) the #19 prospect (Andrus) and #93 prospect (Feliz), plus guys who were ranked #36 (Salty) and #90 (Harrison) pre-2007. Essentially, you’re looking at four top 100 prospects, two of whom were considered top 50 guys pretty close to the time of the deal.

    Since the Reds would probably prefer MLB talent over a group of prospects, they might swap out some quantity for quality, but they’re not going to take a couple of prospects and some filler.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Colin says:

      I get the sense that even after reading this article (or maybe not), people still don’t understand how good Votto is. You’re probably right that the Reds would want someone proven in return, since they are planning to contend over the next few years, which means that at least one player coming back would have to be a cheap proven player.

      A player like Lawrie or Hellickson (just 1.4 WAR and a breakable pitcher) is a starting point. To get an asset like Votto you need to give up bigtime pieces, which is why the Votto/prospect for Bautista rumors seemed legitimate in July.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jono411 says:

        i don’t think you can lump lawrie and hellickson together. pitchers are far more fragile than position players.

        hellickson would be a good center-piece.

        lawrie (or jennings, or ackley, etc) would be the only piece.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Colin says:

        I wasn’t really trying to lump them together, just using examples of other commenters. Someone said, for instance, that if the Rays gave up Hellickson the Reds would kick back some money, which is ridiculous considering Hellickson’s present value and Votto’s cheap contract, especially if no other players were involved.

        It all looks moot though, Walk Jocketty basically said that there’s no way in hell they are trading Votto, since they are trying to win.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Towney007 says:

    Well from the Blue Jays perspective, a guy like Votto isn’t just adding an elite player, you’re looking at a franchise cornerstone kind of guy. He’s absurdly marketable up there to boot. There’s more value for the Blue Jays than anywhere else so it’d make sense for the Reds to want to shop him there as they’d get the most back from them.

    That being said, I don’t think the Reds have to trade Votto, but they should entertain the idea. You never know what you can get.

    As for Buster Olney – when there isn’t a story – he whips one up. See Roy Halladay trade, Theo Epstein to Chicago Cubs, now Votto being traded. When he gets bored he starts peddling his ideas as industry news. Sadly, they have a habbit of becoming real stories…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Brian says:

      The marketability of Votto playing in Toronto is very limited, unless he immediately signs an extension contract. The reason is that you don’t want to market a guy for one or two years, only to have him leave afterward.

      Votto’s contract end in 2013, and by that time he will be 30 yrs-old (birthday in sept). I’m predicting it will take a 5 year contract extention + club option for around $100m to keep Votto.

      Coming from a baseball perspective, I would only trade for Votto under the condition that I can immediately sign him to a contract extension.

      But that’s just my opinion.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Jeff says:

    The hot rumor in Cincinnati this summer was that the Reds/Jays dicussed a Votto-Bautista trade, but (obviously) never signed off on it. I would not be opposed, as a Reds fan, if they revisited this in the winter. Reds get 4 years @ $14MM per year of Bautista..plus they fill a LF hole and a RH power hitting hole. Makes sense and doesn’t really hurt either team’s 2012 on-field product. I’d prefer the Romero-Lawrie package, but don’t think the Jays would do it.

    Schoenfield on ESPN thought that a Bumgarner-Belt package would be realistic, but other think that SFO considers Bumgarner untouchable. I’d be ecstatic if the Reds could pull this one off, and heck, I’d even throw in Edinson Volquez. He won 17 games once, ya know.

    In addition to those two trading partners, I think Seattle might be willing to part with Pineda and others to bring in Votto. Can’t think of many other realistic trading partners.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Puffy says:

    Another useful data point is the Adrian Gonzalez trade. No, it’s not a precise comparable, but it does set the minimum market value. Adrian was roughly the same age (within 4 months) that Votto is now. Gonzalez was regarded as an elite player on both sides of the ball whose offensive numbers had suffered in Petco. He was coming off of two elite seasons with an fWAR of 5 to 6 (Votto now has had two seasons in the 7 fWAR range).

    The big difference, of course, and a significant difference at that, is that you would be getting more than 1 year of control (and a slightly better player than Adrian Gonzalez). The trade would have to have more value (and potentially significantly more value) than Kelly, Rizzo, and Fuentes. The centerpiece of that deal was clearly Kelly, ranked between 10 and 40 in many top prospect lists at the time. Rizzo was in the 50 – 100 range while Fuentes was more of a wild card, a top draft pick years away from the majors.

    And remember that the Red Sox were acquiring more than just 1 year of Gonzalez – they were also effectively acquiring exclusive negotiating rights – with the strong expectation that an extension would be possible. While the acquiring team would get more than 1 year of Votto, the probability of an extension will not likely factor into the price.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jeff says:

      The Blue Jays have the talent to match a deal like that. Question is, if the Reds traded him, are they focused solely on players that can step in right now. Jays might have some great prospects, but few are ready for the show right now.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. aj says:

    Nats wont they have laroache and Morse for first and or LF. They want a CF and pitching if they do any trades but odds are they fish around for buy low deals (maybe hayward if the braves are really that stupid) like BJ upton or Spahn.

    BUT Probably no way the nats can match up for votto unless the reds really sell low anyways. Milone doesnt throw hard enough to be counted as a legit prospect typically, Detwiler has to much service time and not enough results.

    Would take peacock and probably players from the most recent draft if they start out the year hot. cant trade them until a year has past from when they were drafted so they would be PTBNL’s. Could see the reds being high on rendon and purke.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. aj says:

    Well Dave ever since that deal for Tex ended so badly for ATL, i honestly doubt anyone would make the same mistake again. Especially after the Col/Cle deal at the deadline this year already looks like a massive overbuy by the Indians.

    All the teams that would be interested in Votto dont have deep pockets, so they cling to prospects even more then other teams do. I dont see votto traded unless A someone gets desperate at the trading deadline or B the Reds collapse next year and decide to sell him while hes got high value and go for it the next few years.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. dc says:

    I could see Texas as a candidate as well. Moreland is clearly below average. Profar is blocked and including Perez probably gets the conversation started. Then you could include Harrison or Holland as well for solidly above average, cost-controlled MLB talent.

    You could no longer use 1B as part of the Napoli/Young/Moreland rotation but that’s a small problem to have.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. chris d says:

    Votto may not be moved but it is sure enjoyable for me consider what the Mariner’s would need to give up to get this gem of a player: Pineda (a possible(?) #1 0r #2 SP, Paxton, and League (Closer).

    I don’t know if this would get it done but the M’s don’t have any position players to spare. Would be filled with pitchers….my guess.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. Tim says:

    Votto to the Cubs for Starlin Castro straight up

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. Brandon says:

    I like Atlanta again. Freeman would be ‘proven’ at first, then with their young quartet of pitchers they could offer one/two of them. I’m sure they’d try to pawn off D. Lowe and probably some cash at that point. So Freeman/Lowe/2 of their quartet and 3 mil or so for Votto.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Colin says:

      Reds have Alonso (who is maybe better than Freeman) ready to go at first which is what makes Votto expendable. Derek Lowe is a surplus back-end starter for the Reds.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. aj says:

    Why would the mariners take Votto and block Smoak? Let alone giving up Pineda who will be more valuable over the next 4-5 years of control vs Votto’s 2.

    Also if the team has money to spend its typically a better option to sign a simular Caliber player rather then trading the monster haul to get another.

    Not saying smoak is a star or anything but hes the #1 haul from the Lee trade and a very recent top 10-20 prospect in baseball got to give him another season atleast.

    Seattle should sign Reyes, pray Ichiro isin’t done, Hope Guiterriez can rediscover replacement lvl hitting and his defense. Find 1-2 Corner of’s on FA market that arent blackholes based on the hitting enviroment.Find anyone that can hit above Average to DH. With those changes they’ll compete, Will they be better then the Rangers? Probably not but there is nothing they can do this offseason to be better then the rangers atm.

    Safeco is a lousy place to hit, hopefully they take a sabermetric look at is this offseason and tailor the offense to hit there. Doubt Seattle fans want another Adrian Beltre situation. Smart teams build around the home park. yankee’s and the short porch in right, Boston and the monster Seattle needs to take this approach.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chris d says:

      Safeco is not a lousy place for left handed sluggers. In fact, Jack Z has stocked the lineup with lefties and switch hitters…and the reason to trade Pineda is because they need hitting in a bad way as everyone knows. And they need hitting more than pitching right now.

      And Votto is one of top 5 hitters in MLB and that is better than Smoak and if not DH’ing they can trade him for an outfielder which they need. What if next season and Smoak is smoking and hitting the crap out of the ball and they could trade him with high value!!!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. Vince says:

    I think Texas is the most likely candidate to land Votto if he’s moved.

    They have MLB caliber starting pitching available along with some prospects. They have the money for Votto long-term when Michael Young comes off the books. They could use another left-handed power bat. The big problem is that they don’t really need Votto.

    From a Toronto fan’s perspective, I’d love to get Votto though the price is probably too high if the names Romero or Lawrie are included in a deal. The Jays are too far from contention to put most of their eggs in the Votto basket.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. dudley says:

    Are those MARCEL 2012 projections publicly available?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. Jason461 says:

    1. The Reds aren’t trading Votto. Jocketty, who never says anything, came out and said this today.

    2. The problem with articles like this is they assume small market teams don’t want to win NOW. The Reds best window for putting together a championship season is the next two years with Votto. Almost any trade has them punting the ball down the road. What they are far more likely to do is try and trade prospects (Alonso, maybe Grandal) and some of their mediocre pitching for good pitching.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • theeiffeltower says:

      If they are trying to trade Votto, do you think Jocketty is going to come right out and say it publicly? Saying they’re not interested in dealing Votto ensures that his price stays high.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  29. Kris says:

    The trade possibility IS real b/c of Votto’s value relative to his own teams replacement (perceived) value…

    Shields is a very comparable talent, who matches each organizations immediate, winning needs…

    If Cinci kicks in 5M (mas or menos), it works out well…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  30. John Franco says:

    I’m not sure the Jays have the prospects to get it done without Lawrie or Romero, and I don’t see them putting either of them in a deal.

    I *do* think James Shields is a reasonable starting point, but I don’t think he’s nearly enough to get it done. The Rays are probably more likely to trade Shields for Alonso, but if they move Shields they might be able to afford Votto. They’d just have to kick in some other prospects (maybe Lee, Archer, and someone else).

    Or how about this – Yankees offer $80mil and Tex for Votto. Who blinks first? ;)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • theeiffeltower says:

      I think the Jays are actually one of the few teams who do have the prospects to get something done for Votto without an appreciable effect on the 2012 MLB roster. Granted, it would take a big bite out of the system, but as someone said above, if they think that Colby Rasmus is a long-term solution in CF, marquee guys like Jake Marisnick and Anthony Gose could be on the table. The Reds are more than set at C, but with Arencibia, d’Arnaud and Carlos Perez who should still have plenty of trade value despite the down year, the Jays may have a bit of a logjam there themselves; maybe one of them could be flipped for a piece that gets sent to the Reds. They also have quite a few promising young pitchers beyond Romero and Morrow, including Henderson Alvarez, Brett Cecil, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison, Nestor Molina, Noah Syndergaard and Justin Nicolino. Also, I’d imagine Travis Snider would have some value for the Reds if the Jays wanted to flip him. Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Reds would take a deal that didn’t improve their 2012 chances, but the Jays could probably offer something worth more than what the Red Sox gave up for Adrian Gonzalez.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. Bob says:

    I don’t see Votto going anywhere, at least not this winter….Reds will try to compete, maybe if the season is an absolute disaster, they move him midseason to clear a spot for Alsonso and maybe pick up a pitcher or a boatload of prospects. The Reds are pretty solid…and there’s no reason they can’t try to win in 2012.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. CircleChange11 says:

    I fully support CIN trading Joey Votto. It should happen soon … and preferably to the AL.

    I am highly doubtful that CIN can get the same WAR in return, or even the same WAR via chaining, with prospects or player package.

    I cannot envision Jocketty even realistically considering a trade of Votto.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CircleChange11 says:

      I’ll add with Fielder and Pujols hitting that market in an area of 20-30M/y for long-term years …. it’s not a bad idea to see if someone will throw an outstanding trade at CIN for Votto @ 16M/y.

      If he is floating the idea out there to see what it returns, it’s a pretty decent move.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>