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Joey Votto is “getting close to playing in minor league games”, according to Blue Jays manager John Schneider

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Photo credit:Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
29 days ago
Where the heck is Joey Votto?
The Canadian-born first baseman had a terrific 17-year career with the Cincinnati Reds, with a .294/.409/.511 career slash line, along with 356 homers in 8746 plate appearances, accumulating 58.9 fWAR since his career began in 2007.
After the Reds declined Votto’s $20 million team option, he became a free agent and eventually signed a minor-league deal with his hometown team, the Toronto Blue Jays.
The 40-year-old had one, I repeat, just one Spring Training at-bat with the Jays, and it was a home run. However, in the same game, he stepped on a loose bat in the dugout and was originally listed as day-to-day with an ankle injury.
 
Well, it’s been 88 days since that game and we finally have news on Votto’s progress. Multiple sources reported that the 40-year-old first baseman may play in some minor league games soon, according to Blue Jays manager John Schneider.
 
The question though, is there a fit on this team anymore? After rarely starting, Daniel Vogelbach has been the designated hitter for the team more often since May 12, where he has slashed .250/.302/.400 with a homer in 43 plate appearances. It’s not exactly the type of power you want from a designated hitter, though.
Matters got more complicated recently when the Blue Jays called up Spencer Horwitz. The natural left-handed first baseman has mainly played second base since he was called up, making his first start of the 2024 season at first base in Wednesday’s game.
Unlike Vogelbach, Horwitz has found immediate success for the Jays, as he’s slashing .389/.476/.444 with a double and 2 RBI in 21 plate appearances for a 164 wRC+. It’s to be seen if he can continue to play this way, but his call up does complicate matters if his defence at second regresses.
Moreover, another complication comes in how much longer it’ll take Votto to get up to game speed. If he’s ready to go within the next couple of weeks, Votto would certainly be given an opportunity with his track record. But if he’s not ready to go until the end of July and the Blue Jays decide to buy at the trade deadline, the team’s need for him could be gone at that point.
Votto’s potential role for the Blue Jays really depends when (and if) he is ready to go. There’s a pretty clear roster move as it stands, as the Jays can just designate Vogelbach for assignment and replace him with Votto. However, would Votto get more than 42 plate appearances in a month, and who will be taken out of the lineup in this scenario?
It’s all very complicated, but hopefully Votto is ready to go in the coming weeks, because the hometown kid certainly deserves his flowers for the only Canadian team in the league!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Ryley_L_D.

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