Wow. This is going to be one VERY interesting offseason. We all know that Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes are free agents that will get plenty of interest this offseason. We also know that it's pretty much a slam dunk that Yankees starter CC Sabathia will opt out of his contract, and could cause a bidding war between the Yankees and Red Sox, although, I could see Yankees GM Brian Cashman making Sabathia an offer he can't refuse.
Now we get this from ESPN's Buster Olney:
Buster_ESPN Buster OlneyRival executives getting signals that the Reds won't shop Joey Votto -- but that they are fully prepared to listen to offers.
I am very surprised to hear this, but the Reds are ready to win now and need an ace starting pitcher to compete, so maybe they feel that dealing Votto is their best chance to get that ace starter.
More on the Reds listening to offers for Joey Votto after the jump:
But, Reds beat writer, John Fay, wrote this in his blog regarding Olney's tweet:
Don’t know if there’s anything to it, but most of the Twitter talk we’ve seen related to Votto involves the Blue Jays (no surprise there, as Votto is Canadian and there’s been previous speculation about Toronto) and the Marlins.
I don't see the Marlins with any ace pitchers they would be willing to deal....well, they do have Josh Johnson, but he is coming off an injury. The Blue Jays could be willing to deal Rioky Romero who pitched very well in 2011, going 15-11 in 225.0 innings with a 2.92 ERA, 4.20 FIP and a 3.80 xFIP. Romero has thrown 178 or more innings in each of the last 3 seasons and is 42-29 over that same period. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous dealt starter Shaun Marcum to the Brewers last offseason, and could be willing to deal Romero this offseason.
Who would replace Votto at first base for the Reds? First base prospect Yonder Alonso. Alonso was solid at the plate in his 2011 cup of coffee, hitting .330-.398-.545 with 5 HRs, 15 RBI and 9 runs in 88 at bats. At AAA in 2011, Alonso hit .296-.374-.486 with 12 HRs, 24 doubles, 56 RBI, 46 runs, 6 SBs and a 60-46 K/BB rate.
The Reds tried Alonso in left field and at third base to get his bat in the lineup, but he was a liability in left field and many thought the Reds only option was to deal Alonso this offseason, but apparently teams aren't interested in Alonso. But, there will be plenty of teams with interest in Votto.
Reds GM Walt Jocketty is probably going to listen to teams who need a first baseman and are unwilling to get involved in the free agent market for either Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder. Or, he could be copying what Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers did last offseason by listening to offers for outfielder Justin Upton, and we all know that Upton was not traded and had his best season as a major leaguer in 2011.
Votto is scheduled to make $9.5 million in 2012, and $17 million in 2013, the last two years of his 3 year contract. Votto's remaining contract, while expensive for a team like the Reds, is cheap when you compare his contract, and performance at the plate, to hitters like Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Howard and Troy Tulowitzki.
Should the Reds deal Joey Votto this offseason?