Votto’s Value

The Reds have entered the offseason looking to trim payroll, according to multiple sources. The Reds have multiple contracts which could offer immediate relief if unloaded, specifically those of Bronson Arroyo ($14.25M guaranteed through 2011), Aaron Harang ($14.5M guaranteed through 2011) and Francisco Cordero ($25.25M through 2012).

In order to unload these contracts, the Reds will probably have to include somebody who is more likely to provide surplus value to a club. Joey Votto fits that bill perfectly, as a pre-arb all-star caliber player. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, when asked if Votto could be included in a trade this offseason, Reds GM Walt Jocketty replied “Oh God, no!”

And for good reason. In Votto, the Reds have a threat with the bat and a stopper with the glove. Votto improved on his stellar rookie season of 2008 by 45 points of wOBA, posting an incredible .418 mark. His UZR fell below average, but he has a career UZR/150 of +4 runs. The Fan’s Scouting Report also rated Votto as a slightly above-average overall fielder. Overall, in roughly two years of MLB service, Votto has put up 8.2 wins. A 4 win season basically defines all-star, and that’s exactly what Votto has done in his short career.

A .418 wOBA again might be too much to expect of the young Votto. His BABIP in 2009 was an unsustainable .373, even higher than his 2008 mark of .330. Votto does have a well above average LD rate, which dropped to a still excellent 21.7% in 2009, making his 2009 BABIP seem even odder. Still, a BB% increase from 10.3% to 13.0% is a great sign for the Reds, and at the least, Votto seems capable of maintaining a wOBA between his .373 mark of 2008 and his 2009 mark of .418.

Even at the bottom ends of his production, a .373 wOBA and merely average fielding, Votto is roughly a 3 win player. Votto will enter his age 27 season in 2010, and the Reds will hold him through his age 30 season in 2013. The Reds will be paying only about $500K for his services in 2010, and his OBP-heavy hitting skillset is likely to be undervalued in arbitration. He likely will not receive the awards that Ryan Howard ($10M, $15M, $19M) received, nor what Prince Fielder ($7.5M, $11.5M including signing bonus first two years) received in arbitration. With Votto producing as he has through his career, he is one of the best assets in the MLB. Jocketty’s response was right on the money.




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18 Responses to “Votto’s Value”

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  1. glp says:

    If the Reds insist on holding on to Votto, what do they do with Yonder Alonso? Isn’t he considered close to ready?

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  2. W. Palm Bch says:

    I was thinking the same thing glp

    Why not move votto now and get a ton back for him … like you said in the article, he’s closer to a .370 wOBA than .418

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  3. wanderinredsfan says:

    When Alonso’s knocking on the door, Votto will be moved to LF, a position he has had some experience in both the minors and majors. IMO, Votto is a better left-fielder than a first baseman. Alonso goes to first, and Votto completes a very formidable outfield of Bruce, Votto, Stubbs, Dickerson, and Balentien. It’s not like the Reds are so full of talent that Votto and Alonso can’t be on the same field. As a Reds fan, I for one, INSIST that Jocketty hold onto both. Why wouldn’t he?

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  4. Joe R says:

    Dusty’s crushed, why must Walt Jocketty foil his noble plot of keeping his bases as unclogged as possible?

    How’s Willy Taveras supposed to steal bases?

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  5. Bobby Boden says:

    On the subject of his BABIP, in 2009 he posted a super low 1.4% IFFB rate, which plays a role in his high BABIP. If he can maintain this going forward, along with his good LD%, he could continue to post some of the best BABIP numbers in the league.

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  6. Trenchtown says:

    Cordero is through 2011 with Club option/million dollar buy-out. Both Arroyo and Harang are 2011 club options. It is inaccurate to call that money guaranteed

    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tj1FG9GPVGFzrJykhM94ogw&output=html

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  7. Logan says:

    Woot Woot! Love articles on members of my fantasy team. Speaking of which, did anyone else have him in a head-to-head league? He basically won the two week final for me all by himself.

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  8. dan l says:

    wanderinredsfan…If the Reds did decide to trade Votto what would you look to receive back? What do the Reds need to contend going forward into 2011?

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    • wanderinredsfan says:

      I wouldn’t trade Votto until after another two seasons, at the earliest. I can’t even fathom adequate compensation for him at this point in time, because like the article so succinctly points out, he is one of the most valuable players in baseball right now. Lincecum? Wieters? Andrus? I dunno.

      However, if we limit our discussion to what the Reds need for 2011, then I think it’s obvious that the Reds need a clear number one starter, a respectable SS, and perhaps a top notch catcher. More importantly, they need their top prospects to pan out. Bruce, Bailey, Cueto, and Volquez need to live up to expectations, and the next core of prospects (Frazier, Stubbs, Cozart, Francisco, Wood) will likely need to be solid contributors if the Reds are to be competitive by 2011.

      It goes without saying that at least a couple of the higher priced veterans (Arroyo, Harang, Phillips, Cordero) will need to be moved before then to make room for future arbitration raises and/or payroll flexability towards signing future pieces. Unfortunately, I think the only one with adequate value is the one I’m most hesitant in trading, Phillips. Fortunately, the Reds have numerous in-house options at second. If I was running things, I’d try to land a top-notch catching prospect ready to make the jump to the big leagues ASAP.

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      • dan says:

        “I wouldn’t trade Votto until after another two seasons, at the earliest. I can’t even fathom adequate compensation for him at this point in time, because like the article so succinctly points out, he is one of the most valuable players in baseball right now. Lincecum? Wieters? Andrus? I dunno.”

        I’ll disagree. The soonest you trade Votto is after 2010, IF Alonso is ready, and only in the right deal. A more realistic target would be a team that will need a 1st baseman (definitely not Texas). Maybe Tampa, who are always concerned with the budget and have Carlos Pena becoming a FA after 2010, for someone like Wade Davis or Hellickson plus at least one GOOD prospect. Or maybe the Mets. But those three (Linc, Wieters, & Andrus) probably won’t be dealt anytime soon.

        “It goes without saying that at least a couple of the higher priced veterans (Arroyo, Harang, Phillips, Cordero) will need to be moved before then to make room for future arbitration raises and/or payroll flexability towards signing future pieces. Unfortunately, I think the only one with adequate value is the one I’m most hesitant in trading, Phillips. Fortunately, the Reds have numerous in-house options at second. If I was running things, I’d try to land a top-notch catching prospect ready to make the jump to the big leagues ASAP.”

        I’d be careful to not make their finances sound worse than they are. Arroyo and Harang could both be gone after 2010 if the Reds chose to not pick up their options and it will be alot easier to deal Cordero when he has only one year left on his deal. The 2010 budget will be tight but afterwards they should be fine. I think that Phillips is the least likely to be moved unless Frazier shows that he really can be another Kent. But I bet a contender would have interest in Arroyo next June/July with his track record of doing better in the 2nd half. If they trade Arroyo mid-season and trade Cordero after 2010 for the best mix of talent/cost savings they can get and then don’t pick up the option for Harang they’ll have ALOT of payroll room to add the final touches for a 2011 contender.

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  9. Diaz says:

    Sadly, catching prospects don’t exactly grow from trees. Though I do agree with you that Votto, and more importantly the fact that he is cost controlled, is just too valuable to trade. I mean really, what type of a package would be needed to land a 3-4 win player who makes next to nothing. Even if he projects to be a below average LF he would still probably be more valuable to the Reds there than the prospects that most teams would want to give up. (Of course that is assuming that Yonder develops into a viable option at first, which despite his talent remains an if)

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  10. Fresh Hops says:

    The correct more for the Reds is to offer Votto a contract worth ~$7M/year over the next four years, with a good club option on the fifth, let’s say $15M. Maybe his agent tells him not to take it, because it is less than he would get during the same span through FA and arbitration. I’m not very good saying what players will and won’t take, but this seems like a great deal for the Reds and a perfectly reasonable deal for Votto to take.

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    • Joe R says:

      Eric Hinske on young player contracts. Evan Longoria thanks you.

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    • dan says:

      I’m not sure they need to sign him to a long-term deal just yet but when/if they do I doubt it will include paying him $15m in one of the years. The Reds have never paid a player that much, for one year, and I don’t think it will happen anytime soon. (I don’t think they need to either.)

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  11. wanderinredsfan says:

    dan said: “I’d be careful to not make their finances sound worse than they are. Arroyo and Harang could both be gone after 2010 if the Reds chose to not pick up their options…”

    Dan,
    Why would Walt let Arroyo or Harang walk without trying to trade them first? Doesn’t make much sense, so long as someone is willing to take on their contract. Therefore, I think Walt will most definetely have to trade one of the tow (or Cordero) before 2011. The only other feasible option, IMO, is to re-work either players contracts before 2011 at a much discounted cost. I don’t think that will happen.

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