There are few things in the world more soul-sucking for a writer than rote previews. Going team-by-team through the league and “breaking down” the chances and pitfalls always seems like a good idea but ends up taking years off your life.

Phil Rogers is the man in charge of this thankless task for the Chicago Tribune. Phil Rogers has plenty of things on his plate, I can only assume. The prospect of compiling some 900 words on the Toronto Blue Jays is a daunting one indeed. So Phil Rogers decided to play a little jazz. Phil Rogers turned his 2012 Jays season preview (slash power ranking) into a trip to the fortune teller.

And what does his crystal ball foretell? Joey Votto, Toronto Blue Jay.

It is hard to fault Rogers for focussing on an admittedly sexier narrative for the Jays than the “front office turns over roster completely, bilks his way into a fourth place finish with panache” truth of the matter. But the confidence with which Rogers asserts Votto to the Jays is a “sure thing” is puzzling.

Unless that pesky Mayan calendar is correct, and the Earth drifts into a black hole or is attacked by a higher species we never knew existed, Joey Votto will be with the Blue Jays in the very near future. When that inevitable acquisition is finalized, they will have the full attention of the American League for the first time since the early ’90s.

Awesome! Plan the parade! A few scant details stand between this dream scenario and the marketing department at One Blue Jays Way going into full time party mode:

  1. The Jays empty their coveted farm system for one of the best hitters in the game.
  2. The Jays and their “no contracts longer than five years” rule outbid 29 other teams for a sought-after player with numerous long term contracts under his nose.

Will Joey Votto see fewer years or dollars than Prince Fielder when Votto hits free agency at thirty years-old? Why would he? Sure, fewer home runs but they’re comparably talented players.

Source: FanGraphsJoey Votto, Prince Fielder

Comparably talented players tend to draw comparably sized paycheques when they hit free agency. Not to suggest it is a bad idea for the Jays to break the bank and their own free agency rules to get Votto. Blue Jays fans the world over hope it is the fait accompli Rogers’ suggests. The minor detail of some seven-odd years and no less than $165 million dollars is all that stands in the way. Minor details, really.

If “all roads lead to Votto” as Rogers suggests (in a BOOM! NAILED IT one sentence paragraph), the Joey Votto and Jose Bautista-led Toronto Blue Jays will indeed be in a good place. The Jays would move heaven and Earth to get a true hometown hero on their roster in the prime of his career. Wouldn’t they? That not-so-insignificant seed of doubt makes Joey Votto’s move to Toronto anything but a slam dunk.

Comments (15)

  1. Considering how good he is and where he’s from (usually I don’t give a rat’s ass), the Jays would be stupid not to break their 5 year policy for Votto.

  2. The problem with set-in-stone policies (like the no-contracts-longer-than-5-years policy currently held by the Blue Jays) is that one day you will eventually face a situation where you feel compelled to break that policy (like if the Blue Jays have an opportunity to sign Votto in 2013), and when you do break that policy you look silly for ever having that policy to begin with (see Blue Jays open door policy which allowed employees to interview with whatever other team they wished, only to have that policy rescinded as soon as the team faced a situation where one of their valued employees (Farrell) was being courted by the Red Sox).

  3. Despite being the Joey Votto-to-Toronto guy, this is obviously unrealistic, for all the reasons Drew mentioned, plus the fact that the Reds should be really good this year.

    This is a bit more hypothetical, but I wonder if Justin Morneau might become an option should he show that he’s healthy and back to normal this year (a fairly big “if”, I know). But the Twins should be pretty bad, and may be enticed by to sell if/once he seems to be back on track. He’s under contract for 2012 and 2013 at $14M/year, so he wouldn’t kill the Jays financially, and shouldn’t have nearly the cost Votto would prospect-wise.

  4. It sounds like Phil Rogers doesn’t know how the Jays conduct business. Votto is every bit the pipe dream that Fielder was.

  5. Morneau’s an interesting possibility, but an even bigger longshot than Votto probably since he would have to have a huge comeback to make him an attractive trade piece

  6. Oh my God, Joey Votto!!! Delusions of maple grandeur!

  7. While not probable, it is plausible, unless the Reds extend his contract.

    The soonest I could see it would be a mid-season trade in 2013 – the Reds are well positioned to make a run for contention this year and next, but if they fall out of contention next year, they’ll likely try to deal him. Similarly, with some development from the young core, the Jays could be in a position to be a fringe contender in 2013, and AA has frequently said he’s a believer in using the season to assess the talent and adding players at the deadline. As well, whether they trade for him or not, there’s at least a reasonable chance the team looks like a contender for long enough to have a meaningful impact on revenue by the time he becomes a free agent, and similarly, that they’re at the “one-piece-away” stage that AA often discusses.

    On the other side of the coin, Votto may have a preference for playing in Toronto. That’s not to say he’d accept a lowball offer, but given the hometown connection, he may be more likely than most players to chose a Blue Jays offer over a similar or slightly better offer. And while I’m not a big believer in the value of “hometown heroes”, it could be a selling point from a marketing standpoint to convince ownership to bid a little higher than they would on a similarly talented player.

    It’s not likely, but it’s a more plausible possibility than a lot of this type of speculation.

  8. If we’re playing crystal ball than I say Miguel Cabrera traded to the Jays. It’s only a three year commitment starting in 2013.

  9. I hope the Reds completely suck, and trade Votto at the deadline or off-season.

  10. Rogers is the same guy who wrote that the Jays got Brett Lawrie back from Philadelphia for Roy Halladay, right?

  11. Now that MSM has said it’s a sure thing, it has zero chance of happening.

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