The Blue Jays will be aggressive this offseason; with two huge first basemen hitting free agency there is no question GM Alex Anthopoulos will be inquiring on both Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols.  Both men will get big money, but it won’t be from the Jays.  I feel the price tag will be too large and the length of the contract beyond the Jays comfort zone to lock up either free agent.  The Blue Jays biggest target this offseason (assuming that Felix Hernandez will be kept off the trading block) will be Joey Votto

Adam Lind, first baseman of the Jays in 2011, put up decent offensive statistics throughout the year, but a lowly OPS number of .295 is well below where it should be.  That would be a nice starting point for his batting average, let alone his OPS.  Granted he did slug 26 home runs and drove in 87, these numbers should be higher hitting behind Jose Bautista. Compare that to Votto who hit .309/.416/.581 (BA/OPS/SLG). I believe the Jays will inquire on the Reds first baseman.


The Reds are in the an envious position of having two power hitting left-handed first basemen, the difference is one is young, cheap and controllable…the other is expensive and possibly leaving the team in a couple years via free agency.  The Reds organization is coming to a tipping point financially, to either hold onto Votto for the remainder of his contract or to move Votto and replace him at first with a talented young first baseman, Yonder Alonso. 

It breaks down like this: Votto will be paid in 2012-13 $9.5 million and $17 million respectively, whereas Alonso is under contract for 2012 for just $1 million and presumably re-signed for the 2013 for $1.8 million (or re-signed for a longer term contract that is good for both sides, but in the very least he is controllable).  The difference of $23.7 million over those two seasons could be saved and spent elsewhere to help the Reds organization. The Reds understand that trading away Votto, rather than Alonso, is the better move for the franchise because Votto would be eating up a large chunk of their payroll. (Not including signing bonus cash to be paid out)

They could trade Votto to the Jays in a deal that could be set up like this:

To the Jays:

  • 1B Joey Votto


To the Reds:

  • SS Yunel Escobar
  • P Kyle Drabek
  • P Deck McGuire


Who the Reds Get:

The Reds need help at shortstop and trading for Yunel Escobar would be great for the franchise. Zack Cozart played well in his short stint with the big league club, but with such a small sample size the chance to attain Escobar would be a hard one to pass up; Escobar is more talented and well-rounded at the position.   He ranked No. 3 among shortstops in OPS last season and had a WAR rating of 4.4. Escobar hit in the leadoff spot in the lineup and was one of the Jays top hitters, setting the table for Jose Bautista. 

 Escobar’s contract is set up very team friendly and will make the Reds strongly consider this move; he is signed up for 2012-13 for $10 million total, and has team options for 2014-15, each for $5 million a season. This move alleviates many fiscal restraints on the Reds front office (especially considering Votto’s 2013 salary) and moves in a very talented SS that is controllable for four more seasons.

Kyle Drabek was the center piece to the Roy Halladay trade.  In fact, it was the Phillies who were not willing to involve the prospect in the Halladay deal that was creating a road block for both parties.  Drabek struggled with control in 2011, but putting too much pressure on himself accounted for some of the wildness.  He has the stuff to become a front end of the rotation pitcher, with a hard fastball that touches 95mph and a curveball that falls off the table; his repertoire is nasty.  The numbers don’t lie that Drabek struggled this past season, but it has not influenced opinions on how good Kyle will become.  The Reds would be attaining a very high ceiling pitcher who, potentially, could find himself pitching right behind Cueto in the rotation.

The Reds would also be acquiring Deck McGuire, who was the first round (11th overall) draft pick of the Jays in 2010.  McGuire pitched three seasons at Georgia Tech before beginning his pro career, which gave him a solid foundation.  He is a horse on the mound and will be a very effective starter in the future, eating up major innings.  Deck plowed through 125 innings and collected a 9-5 record with a 3.02 ERA combined in his first professional season which saw him promoted from Dunedin (A) to New Hampshire (AA).  The Jays would lose a fantastic pitching prospect, and the Reds will gain a young hurler that will be major league ready very soon, possibly a 2012 call up. 

This package brings in a top tier talent at shortstop, pitching depth and a great pitching prospect to Cincinnati, as well as addresses the issue of clearing up payroll and finding a permanent position for Alonso (it would be a mistake to keep him in LF).


What the Jays will do:

The Jays would be bringing in their third left-handed hitting first baseman to the club and they will not be carrying all three on the 25 man roster come April.  Adam Lind would presumably be shopped around to a club who is looking for first base help and heavy on bullpen pitching (Lind to Oakland for Andrew Bailey?). The Jays are looking to improve their bullpen and making a move to trade Lind would give them the best return on investment.   They would keep young David Cooper (who hit .356 in Las Vegas (AAA) last season, with on OPS of .439) as a backup for Votto and to platoon the DH role with right handed hitting Edwin Encarnacion.  This would clear Lind’s salary off the books and bring in some pitching help to shore up the Jays bullpen. 

Losing Escobar would force GM Alex Anthopoulos to bring up young SS Adeiny Hechavarria, who was slated to play all season in Las Vegas (AAA).  He is a potential gold glove prospect who the Jays are very keen on; from day one he would be able to showcase his defensive ability.  Hechavarria would step up and hit in the nine hole for the Jays and potentially develop his hitting prowess into a productive offensive threat with some speed.   In the final 25 games of the 2010 season in Las Vegas (AAA), Hechavarria tore up the league with a .389 batting average, so there is potential at the dish.   The thought of also bringing back beloved former Blue Jay, John McDonald, would make it an easier transition for Hechavarria to learn the big league ropes from.


After the Deal:

This deal works for both teams: The Jays receive former MVP and Toronto born player Joey Votto, while the Reds receive a top-tier talent at shortstop (one of the hardest positions to fill) and a couple of strong young arms.  There will have to be a consensus from the Reds organization that this move will inevitably help the franchise in the years to come, even though it will sting to trade away their franchise player.  They must realize they cannot afford to keep Votto in the long term and he will most likely be gone in two short seasons.

The Jays will be adding another huge bat to their already powerful lineup, anchored by Jose Bautista.  It is scary to think of just how good Votto and Bautista’s numbers will be when they are side by side in the lineup.  I still see Bautista hitting in the three hole with Votto taking over the cleanup duties.  It would make for an exciting year for all Jays fans.

If Cincinnati balks at the thought of trading Votto, the Jays will walk away and happily go into next season with the players they offered in the trade.  They have zero sense of panic and will not overpay for Votto.

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