Free Agent Profile: A Joey Votto homecoming is a possibility this winter

Photo credit:© Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK
Brennan Delaney
5 months ago
It’s time to bring a Canadian legend home. 
In this series, we look at free agents who the Jays could have an interest in as free agency continues. We’ve already covered eight players, which you can find at the bottom of the article. Let’s take a look at first baseman Joey Votto, who’s on the open market for the first time in his career this winter.

Joey Votto’s 2023:

Votto had his 2022 season end early to have surgery on his left shoulder to repair his torn rotator cuff and biceps and didn’t make his 2023 debut until a few months into the year. His season kicked off in mid-June where he slashed .202/.314/.433 with 14 homers in 242 plate appearances, along with a 11.2 BB% and a 25.6 K%.
His last great season came in 2021, slashing .266/.375/.563 with 36 homers in 533 plate appearances for a 140 wRC+. He also had a 14.4 BB% and a 23.8 K% that year, but posted a 93 wRC+ in 2022 and 98 wRC+ in 2023.
There’s little doubt that Votto will find himself in the Hall of Fame in the future. For his career, he’s slashed .294/.409/.511 with 356 home runs in 8746 plate appearances for a 58.3 fWAR. The only thing he’s missing is a championship, which he can hopefully get with his hometown Toronto Blue Jays.

Joey Votto’s contract:

The Cincinnati Reds declined Votto’s $20 million contract option, which is understandable given his age. However, the Reds had no interest in bringing Votto back, despite him being a franchise icon, which is rather embarrassing. Despite playing 2,056 games over 17 seasons with Cincinnati in his career, the Reds didn’t give Votto a proper send-off. 
There are no contract estimates for Votto, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a team signs him to a deal similar to Brandon Belt’s one-year, $9.3 million deal. For Votto, it’ll likely wind up lower than the figure that Belt earned given his age, but the term will definitely be only for a year.

Is Joey Votto a fit for the Blue Jays:

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins spoke highly about Votto when asked about the Canadian legend at the MLB GM Meetings earlier this week. The team had an interest in him as a trade candidate in the past and they’ll look into Votto as a veteran mentor to bring off the bench.
With Brandon Belt’s future uncertain (he’s considering retirement), the Jays lost one of their best hitters in 2023. Votto is a similar type of player as Belt, being able to draw walks, hit a handful of dingers, and hit for a high average. Votto also does a great job of not striking out, which was one of Belt’s flaws in 2023.
On the other hand, Votto just turned 40 years old and has shown a decline over the past two seasons, even if he’s been around average in terms of wRC+. For context, Belt turned 35 years old in the middle of the season.
The Blue Jays also have an internal option for a left-handed batting first baseman in Spencer Horwitz. The 25-year-old made a mockery of Triple-A this past season, slashing .337/.450/.495 with 10 homers in 484 plate appearances, while also walking more often than striking out. He’s ready for the big leagues, and he’d be a considerably cheaper option than Votto.
But still, it’d be wonderful to bring home Votto to give him one last shot at winning a ring. There’s also no doubt that his presence could help younger players like Horwitz as they break into Major League Baseball. 

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.



Check out these posts...