Blue Jays Agree To Minor League Deal With Joey Votto

Joey Votto is in settlement with the Blue Jays on a minor league cope with an invitation to main league camp, pending a bodily. The MVP Sports activities Group shopper would reportedly lock in a $2MM base wage if he makes the MLB roster with one other $2MM out there through incentives.

It’s a pairing that followers in Toronto have been dreaming about for a very long time, as Votto grew up within the metropolis of Etobicoke, which was amalgamated into the town of Toronto in 1998. For a lot of the previous twenty years, Votto has been mashing for the Reds and turning into a fan favourite along with his distinctive persona whereas Blue Jays followers seemed south of the border with envy, hoping that the native legend would sometime return house.

However again in 2012, Votto signed a 10-year extension with the Reds that ran by 2023. That pact solely simply expired just a few months in the past with Cincy turning down a 2024 membership possibility and the Reds didn’t actually have a lot capability to maintain him round. They’ve just lately graduated an enormous pile of place participant prospects and got here into the winter with Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Jonathan India, Tyler Stephenson and Spencer Steer as first base choices, then they added to that group by signing Jeimer Candelario.

That pushed Votto to pursue alternatives exterior Cincinnati for the primary time in his profession. The Blue Jays have been linked to Votto pretty early on, each resulting from his hometown ties and the roster match. The Jays got here into the winter with only a few left-handed bats on the roster and in addition an open designated hitter spot due to the free agent departure of Brandon Belt. Votto additionally drew some reported curiosity from the Angels however now the long-awaited Votto-Blue Jays pairing has lastly come to fruition.

Nevertheless, the Votto that’s now heading to Jays’ camp isn’t fairly the identical one which received an MVP award and earned six All-Star nods within the earlier decade. He’s been battling a major shoulder damage of late, present process surgical procedure in 2022. Over the previous two years, he’s performed simply 156 video games and hit .204/317/.394 in that point for a wRC+ of 95. His 11.5% stroll charge in that point was nonetheless just a few ticks above common however under Votto’s profession charge of 15.6%. He was additionally struck out in 25.7% of his plate appearances over these two seasons, effectively above his profession clip of 18.8%.

With Votto now past his fortieth birthday and coming off a few injury-marred seasons, it’s honest to surprise what he has left within the tank at this level, however it’s a enjoyable and logical pairing for the 2 sides nonetheless. Votto will get an opportunity to play for his hometown workforce whereas the Jays might discover lightning in a bottle if Votto is ready to put the shoulder points behind him and get again to his previous self. He has 356 house runs in his profession and has slashed .294/.409/.511 total for a wRC+ of 145.

Votto received’t have to get again all the way in which to MVP kind to be a helpful contributor for the Blue Jays, however the roster match could also be a bit tight. The Jays have Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as their on a regular basis first baseman and so they signed Justin Turner to be within the designated hitter slot most days. Turner can nonetheless play a little bit of third base however he’s now 39 years previous and hasn’t been an on a regular basis fielder since 2021.

It’s doable Votto might carve out a part-time position whereby he can function the DH at any time when Turner is within the area or maybe give Guerrero the occasional breather by enjoying first base, as Belt did final 12 months. He can have some competitors from Daniel Vogelbach, who can also be lefty that the Jays signed to a minor league deal. Vogelbach is sort of strictly a DH, as he didn’t play the sector in any respect in 2023 and logged simply 5 innings at first base in 2022. However he has been having an honest spring to this point, having hit two house runs and drawn three walks in 15 plate appearances, resulting in a wonky slash line of .250/.400/.833.

Vogelbach is 31 years previous and to date youthful than Votto however Votto’s longer observe document and talent to play a little bit of first base might give him an edge. His defensive metrics have been subpar prior to now two years however has racked up 54 Defensive Runs Saved in his profession total. Just like his offense, maybe some higher well being as he will get farther from his shoulder surgical procedure might assist him. The membership possible can’t match each on the roster as they’ll want no less than one bench spot for a catcher after which two extra for multi-positional guys like Davis Schneider, Santiago Espinal or Ernie Clement. However having one part-time lefty in combine is sensible as the one lefties presently slated for normal motion within the Toronto lineup are glove-first outfielders Daulton Varsho and Kevin Kiermaier in addition to utility participant Cavan Biggio.

Votto is an XX(B) free agent, which is any participant with no less than six years of service time that completed the earlier season on a significant league roster or injured listing. Underneath the present collective bargaining settlement between MLB and the MLBPA, such gamers have uniform opt-out dates in any minor league deal signed greater than 10 days previous to Opening Day. These dates are 5 days earlier than Opening Day, Might 1 and June 1.

This 12 months’s Opening Day is March 28, which means Votto can have an opportunity to return to free company if the Jays don’t add him to the roster by March 23, which is in simply over two weeks. Vogelbach doesn’t have six years of service time and received’t have assured opt-outs, although it’s unknown if he had any added into the language of his contract.

Votto tells C. Trent Rosecrans and Kaitlyn McGrath of the Athletic that whereas he’ll report back to Jays camp on Saturday, he expects to open the season at Triple-A Buffalo. That implies he’s not planning to train the primary of the opt-out dates offered by the CBA.

Vogelbach additionally has a base wage of $2MM if he makes the membership so the monetary ingredient of the choice shall be a wash. The Jays are set to be a second-time payor of the aggressive stability tax this 12 months, which suggests they are going to face a 30% tax on that $2MM whether or not it comes from Votto or Vogelbach, however that can add simply $600K to their tax invoice.

The subsequent few weeks will give Votto an opportunity to show his well being and present skills to the membership earlier than choices should be made. In the meanwhile, it’s an thrilling pairing for Blue Jay followers that they’ve lengthy waited for.

ESPN’s Buster Olney first reported the Jays and Votto had agreed to a minor league cope with an enormous league Spring Coaching invite. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported the monetary phrases.

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