Cincinnati Reds: What could Joey Votto’s contract buy?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 25: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on against the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 25: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on against the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

The Reds still owe Joey Votto $83M over the next three years.

In 2010, Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto won the NL MVP, and was coming off an absolute stellar season. Votto nearly duplicated that feat in 2017, but Giancarlo Stanton took home the trophy. However, the six-time All-Star has been a shell of himself for the past two-plus seasons. What could the Reds with the $25M they owe Votto in 2021?

Votto was signed to a 10-year/$225M contract that’s not set to expire until after the 2023 season. Votto also has an $20M option for the 2024 season with a $7M buyout. Props to his agent by the way, and in no way can anybody be mad at Votto. Who wouldn’t take that deal? My problem isn’t with the money in the deal, it’s the duration.

The Reds were willing to ink a player approaching 30-years old to a deal that won’t end until he is almost 40-years old; the largest deal in Cincinnati Reds history. It was an egregious error that cannot be made if you consider yourself a small market team.

What could the Reds have spent this offseason if Votto’s deal was not part of the payroll? One could take the $25M Votto is projected to earn and you could really spread that money out. Nick Krall could sign at least two to three proven major league players for that amount of money.

The Reds need a big bat in the lineup, one that can hit for average and power. Starting pitching could take a hit if Trevor Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani aren’t retained. Lastly, shortstop is also a position of need with Jose Garcia not looking quite ready to make the leap to every day MLB shortstop.

The obvious top target would be Trevor Bauer. The Reds should be laser focused on being able to re-sign the reigning 2020 NL Cy Young winner. Would it make sense to break the bank on Bauer? Maybe not when you have multiple other positions of need. If $25M wasn’t tied up in Joey Votto, I believe the Cincinnati Reds would’ve signed Bauer well before now with a historic one-year deal.

Another top target worth mentioning would be an already mentioned former Reds farmhand Didi Gregorius. The veteran shortstop put up decent numbers in one season with the Phillies in the shortened 2020 season. Gregorius made $14M last year, so theoretically $16M/year could allow him call Cincinnati home.

As far as free agents go this winter, starting pitching is a plenty. One name I haven’t seen pop up much on the radar is that of former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. Arrieta still has some gas left in the tank at 34-years old, and made $20M in his last season with the Phillies.

Is Arrieta past his prime? Probably, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some good years left in his right arm. Arrieta should get a serious look from the Cincinnati Reds front office for the right price.

There’s not quite as much relief help on this years market, but one notable reliever would be the Australian-born closer Liam Hendriks. Hendriks was a huge cog in the surprise Oakland A’s bullpen last season. Hendriks should be on any teams radar needing some bullpen help.

Do I like Joey Votto? Absolutely, Votto is certainly destined for Cooperstown one day. This Reds fan just believes a better, more team-friendly contract should’ve been looked at. For what Votto earns, you could very easily turn that into several players who will contribute at a much higher level.

Next. What might a Sonny Gray trade to LAA look like?

We, as Reds fans, owe Joey Votto a lot for what he’s done on the field and his loyalty to club over the years, but even the stoic machine that is Joey Votto can’t outrun time.