Joey Votto watches the reaction to a Cubs home run at Wrigley Field. Photo Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
I think I’ve made fairly clear my position on the Joey-Votto-to-the-Blue-Jays talk that evidently will be constantly brought up until he declines to the point where his gigantic contract makes the idea untenable or is actually traded here, but I guess Jon Heyman would like us to talk about this again.
True, Votto’s bat would look incredible in the middle of the Blue Jays’ heavily right-handed lineup, and maybe he’d even consider waiving his no trade clause to come and play in his home town, but as much as people want to talk (and talk and talk and talk) about it, the obstacles to a deal actually happening are so vast that it’s crazy to me how seriously this keeps being taken. Except it isn’t, because clicks! And fuck me, I’m doing it to!
So why are we doing it this time? Because Heyman’s latest for FanRag tells us that the Jays and Reds, who did indeed talk about Votto last summer, could rekindle talks this winter — even though the whole idea has mostly been viewed as more of an Anthopoulos-led maple-boner project. The Jays, he tells us, have apparently told the Reds not to deal Votto without letting them know. Which makes sense! But certainly doesn’t mean a whole lot.
Votto has a full no-trade clause. Votto has said publicly that he wants to stay in Cincinnati (for whatever little that’s worth), and Heyman reports that Reds insiders suggests that’s true. More crucially, a person with connections to the Jays tells Heyman that they’d expect the Reds “to pay most of the final few or even four years.” The thing is, as it has always been: if that’s the case, why would the Reds be limiting themselves to a deal with Toronto?
The assumption that good Canadian kid Votto would only waive his no-trade to come here? Because that’s pretty rich. And so if it even got to the point of starting to come together, almost certainly there would be other teams involved. Folks seem to feel that this is too natural a landing spot for him for it to happen any other way, but the world just kinda doesn’t work like that. Wake me when it actually happens.
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Of course, one reason Jays fans can even pipe dream on a thing like assuming Votto’s enormous contract is the club’s relatively new financial clout — or, more precisely, their relatively recent willingness to act like an organization with the kind of clout they’ve had all along.
Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star looked toward the future in a piece that ran here on Friday, and spoke to club president Mark Shapiro about such budgetary things.
“There are probably some limitations that I don’t need to get into, because I don’t think I want to make excuses, that will always prevent us from being in that top four, top five. But there’s no reason we shouldn’t be in the next five.”
Damn right there’s no reason they shouldn’t! We know what the TV ratings are and we see the attendance. They should be higher than merely the back end of the top ten, frankly. But you maybe get how it’s a bit much to ask them to jump straight away to the level of the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, and where the Cubs will eventually be as their core gets expensive.
This year the Jays’ payroll ranks 13th, per Baseball Prospects/Cot’s, with the tenth-ranked Cardinals at $144-million. The sixth-ranked Cubs spent $171-million. The Jays already have $107-million committed for 2017, so if they’re only just barely going to slip into that top ten, that leaves them with enough to keep an Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista, but maybe not both.
Of course, if it creeps closer to what the Cubs are spending, a whole lot of things become possible. Yes, even taking on a contract like Votto’s while maybe finding a way to keep one of their own sluggers, too.
“I can tell you, we’re going to go into the off-season with the hope and expectation of building another contender next year,” Shapiro says. Surely Rogers, not wanting to kill the golden goose, will concur — but to what level is, as always, the big question.