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What it really boils down to money. Joey Votto has been one of the best players in the Major Leagues these past few years and in turn he wants to be paid like one.
Votto wants the cash that first baseman like Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder commanded this offseason. Frankly, you can't blame him. There's a reason why Jerry Maguire didn't shout "show me the city!" ... and that's because it's all about the Benjamins, baby.
Despite the hopes of him coming back to Canada, I don't think Votto has the Blue Jays on his short list of potential destinations. As enticing as it might be to suit up in his former hometown, the chance to play in Toronto is trumped by the almighty dollar.
Quite simply, he fact that the Blue Jays are in Votto's hometown means next to nil. Jon Heyman went right to the source, and it sounded like he will not be taking a hometown discount any time soon:
"It would be tough for a position player to sign for five years. No matter how fond a person is of the city, players have to maximize the number of years."Even though it makes perfect sense for the Blue Jays to sign Joey Votto, he isn't giving any preference to his hometown team. If anything, he's basically all but ruled the Jays out because they won't sign contracts in excess of five years.
Earlier this week, TSN 1050's Cybulski & Company were debating whether the Blue Jays should renege on their five-year maximum contract policy. I believe it was Dave Feschuck who made the point (paraphrasing here) that the Blue Jays are handcuffing themselves by adhering to this policy.
Perhaps they should make an exception for this special case? I mean, how often do players with the offensive and defensive calibre of Joey Votto come along? Not very often.
It feels like we're having the same discussion about Joey Votto as we were with Prince Fielder. Both would shore up the first base situation for many years to come, and all it would take to sign them is cash ... but lots of it.
Unless Adam Lind reverts back to his 2009 self or David Cooper or Mike McDade develop into the team's first baseman of the future, the Blue Jays are going to have a serious problem at first base in the next few years.
Which is why the prospect of signing Joey Votto is so tantalizing; he fits the exact requirements that the Blue Jays are looking for right now. Still relatively young, solid defensively, and an incredible offensive weapon at the plate.
Not to mention, Joey Votto could finally provide the Blue Jays with some stable lineup protection for Jose Bautista. Just for a moment, imagine the 1-2 punch of Votto and Bautista. That's the kind of stuff dreams are made of.
Unless the Jays act on that impulse, they'll have to explore other avenues when it comes to the right side of the diamond. Knowing Alex Anthopoulos' affinity for acquiring players via trade, there are really only a select few up and coming first baseman that might be on his radar.
Scouring through the list of potential suitors, the only name that really stood out to me was Mitch Moreland. Barring a trade with the Texas Rangers for the first baseman, the Blue Jays will have some tough decisions to make when it comes to first base.
Do they give Adam Lind the benefit of the doubt? Do they hand the reigns to David Cooper or Mike McDade? Do they trade to get Mitch Moreland? Or do they do the unthinkable and pony up the cash and sign Joey Votto?
I don't know how much Alex Anthopoulos hands are tied when it comes to long-term contracts like ones Votto will be gunning for, but it sounds like the powers that be aren't giving him very much wiggle room.
If the Blue Jays were willing to make an exception for their five year contract policy to sign Joey Votto (or any other top tier first baseman for that matter), not only would it solidify the position, but it would be a huge upgrade offensively.
At this point in his career, I think it's safe to say banking on Joey Votto is a pretty safe bet. So although it would be a huge chunk of change to sign Votto, it would hopefully be money very well spent.
And if AA wanted to get creative create a loophole in the five year policy, maybe the Blue Jays could offer a five year contract with 2-3 player options? If they gave Jose Bautista a sixth year with an option, then that doesn't necessarily mean contracts are five years maximum ... no exceptions.
The funny thing is I didn't see anybody harping on the Detroit Tigers for signing Prince Fielder. Was that because they're the odds-on favourite to repeat as AL Central Champions? Perhaps. But I suppose it's all about perception, right?
If the Blue Jays perceive that they're extremely close to contending, then signing Joey Votto could push them over the top. Whereas if they still have a few more leaps to make, then undertaking a contract of Votto's magnitude might not seem that wise.
The problem is the Blue Jays don't have that luxury of sitting around and waiting until they're on the cusp of contention. They need to be proactive and foresee how their roster will look in the next 2-3 years.
Should the Blue Jays make a play for Joey Votto, or should they just stay the course and avoid the rat race for his services? As you can tell, it's an issue I'm very conflicted about.
If the Blue Jays had a viable long-term first base solution in place, then I'd feel a little more safe. However, the position is in flux at the moment and there's no better way to solidify it than by signing the best potential free agent first baseman.
I just hope the door isn't completely closed on signing Joey Votto, because it would be a huge mistake to not at least consider it.