Friday, 21 October 2011

Why Votto, but not Fielder

Photo's by OlympianX and Keith Allison both licensed under Creative Commons
Since the what seems like forever Jays fans have wanted Toronto born first basemen Joey Votto on his hometown team the Blue Jays, but it is only recently that rumors have really started to "heat up" if you can really even call it that. Buster Olney said on Twitter, "Rival executives getting signals that the Reds won't shop Joey Votto -- but that they are fully prepared to listen to offers.". This was encouraging, but then in an interview with Reds beat writer Mark Sheldon,  Reds GM Walt Jocketty said on the subject of trading Votto, "We haven’t talked about it. I wish that people would stop writing it, why would we trade one of the best players in the game? We’re trying to win.” 

Obviously those are some pretty strong comments that should be taken into consideration when going after Votto. Though despite that strongly worded quote from Walt Jocketty, it doesn't mean that Votto in a Jays uni is completely impossible, but I'm guessing that because of those comments Jocketty will probably take the same route Kevin Towers took with Justin Upton last year. Essentially meaning that he will listen to offers, but that you would have to blow away the Reds to obtain Votto. In the end it should also be the same outcome of the Justin Upton rumors, with no trade happening. Votto may be traded, but probably not this offseason, even if his value is at its peak.

What I want to know is why exactly do we want to trade for Votto, when there is a better option on the free agent market in Prince Fielder. Votto obviously includes the plus of being able to play first base at an above average level and the fact that he is Canadian definitely doesn't hurt, but Prince Fielder, with the right contract, is clearly the better option. He is younger, he is only a marginally worse hitter , and most of all he won't cost the Blue Jays anything other than cash (which can easily be spent if Anthonpolous feels it is warranted) and a 1st round draft pick, which the Blue Jays have two of in 2012.

Starting off on the value aspect, here are the stats of the two players on the past three years.

Prince Fielder
2009 25 162 719 103 177 46 141 2 3 110 138 .299 .412 .602 1.014 166 356
2010 26 161 714 94 151 32 83 1 0 114 138 .261 .401 .471 .871 135 272
2011 27 162 692 95 170 38 120 1 1 107 106 .299 .415 .566 .981 164 322
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/21/2011.

Joey Votto
2009 25 131 544 82 151 25 84 4 1 70 106 .322 .414 .567 .981 156 266
2010 26 150 648 106 177 37 113 16 5 91 125 .324 .424 .600 1.024 171 328
2011 27 161 719 101 185 29 103 8 6 110 129 .309 .416 .531 .947 156 318
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/21/2011.

Prince Fielder's fWAR has been an average of 5.1 and Votto's has been a better, but not otherworldly better at 6.3 fWAR. Though once you take fielding completely out of the equation the gap closes a bit as Fielders average offensive contribution to his fWAR over the past three years is 4.5 wins and Votto's is 4.7 wins. When you consider that if on the Jays Fielder will be most likely be DHing quite a bit, it seems reasonable to assume that there wouldn't be a giant value gap between Fielder and Votto. Either would be a huge upgrade over both Encarnacion and Lind, but for what it would take to acquire the two, it easily gives Fielder the edge. 

To acquire Joey Votto would be a monstrous task. First he's obviously not a free agent nor is he an obvious trade candidate with two years still left on his contract, so a trade for him could take a lot. Some people were suggesting that the Jays should trade something along the lines of Anthony Gose, Travis d'Arnaud, Drew Hutchison, Deck McGuire, and then some of the high end arms in the lower minors like Noah Syndergaard and Justin Nicolino. If the Jays could get Votto for this, then I would go right ahead, but I along with others can easily see that this isn't an adequate package for a guy who is a year removed from an MVP season in which he had 7.3 fWAR. 

A more accurate representation of what it would take to acquire the former MVP would be something along the lines of Brett Lawrie and Ricky Romero. It may look nice to have that hometown hero, but is it really worth it to give up Lawrie and Romero to do so. First off Lawrie has some of that same patriotic appeal that Votto has as well as the fact that he is cost controlled and is projected to be a future star. Then to add on Ricky Romero who is the unquestioned leader of the pitching staff  and the only guy who is a lock to throw 200 innings, it becomes way too much to give up.

Besides by adding Votto to the 2012 roster you really aren't gaining much if anything at all in terms of added value if what you are giving up is Brett Lawrie and Ricky Romero. This year Votto had a 6.9 WAR season and it is quite reasonable to expect him to reach those heights again. But Lawrie and Romero combined this year put up 5.6 WAR and it isn't unprecedented to expect even more value next year out of Lawrie and Romero than out of Votto. Sure some of Lawrie and Romero's value would be added in other ways, but if you assume you get Snider/Thames replacing Lawrie's production and one of the young pitchers replacing Ricky's production it would be exceedingly close to the value added with Votto over Encarnacion. Combined Lawrie and Romero provide probably an extra 5 wins over their replacements, but Votto over Encarnacion is only 5.5-6 wins added, so unless Lawrie completely tanks next season Votto doesn't add much to the Jays. 

Despite the obvious marketing positives of having the best Canadian player in the MLB on the only Canadian team, giving up what it would take to acquire Votto is too much. If the Blue Jays truly want a first basemen now then Fielder is the only option. He's only 27 and if you can get him for less than 7 years, then I'd say jump on it. It doesn't matter even if the Jays pay Fielder upwards of 22.5 million a year, the real issue with him is the long term sustainability. Plus Fielder adds that big bat that the Jays supposedly need, without taking away the prodigy himself Brett Lawrie. In the end I don't think it will be failure whether or not the Blue Jays get a big middle of the order bat this offseason or not, but if they do want to acquire someone, why not Fielder.


  1. I agree with what you have written I.e go after Feilder if you need a bat. Personally I think the Jays won't do a thing on the offensive side this off season.
    When you look at the batting line up we will be better with a full season of Rasmus and Lawrie. Plus if we sign Johnson that should be an upgrade over Hill. JPA should be able to adjust and increase the abysmal BA and OBP. That's possibly 4 slots in the lineup where we should be better.
    For me the biggest issues were the construction of the lineup. We should see Rasmus batting 2nd not Thames. As much as I hate Lind hitting clean up I can't see another way around it.
    Escobar, Rasmus, Bautista, Lind, Lawrie, Johnson, encarnacion, Snider/ Thames, JPA
    The only other solution I see is
    Rasmus, Escobar, Johnson, Bautista, Lind, Lawrie, snider/ Thames, EE, JPA
    Either way I don't anticipate anything on the offensive side until mid season when after a half season of Lind sucking and continuing to swing at everything, he finally goes out and gets us a clean up hitter.

  2. I completely agree with you as that was kind of the point I was trying to make, I think we really need more pitching than hitting, but why I really don't Wat is to give up what it's would costs to get fielder

  3. Agreed the biggest thing we gained when we traded Wells was financial flexibility. I don't see AA giving that up so quickly. Plus he does love his picks.....

    Now on a pitching front it may be an extremely interesting post if you looked at the Jays options this winter. Between potential trades and free agent signings. It could be an interesting off season........

    Great site

  4. Thanks for the feedback

    And you are absolutely right in saying that it will be an interesting offseason, I don't think the offseason will have been as exciting as this one will prove to be since the glory days in the early 90s.