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.