Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Olney Says Votto Top Storyline for 2012

ESPN's Buster Olney has been hard at work since Christmas creating top 10 lists ranking the best teams, bullpens, outfields, and infields -- and just published a new one on Tuesday.

In his latest post (it's an Insider piece so you'll have to become a member to view if you're not already) he gives his top 10 storylines  for 2012. Coming in at #8 on that list was what to do with slugger Joey Votto. Here's the snippet:

"8. What will the Cincinnati Reds do with Joey Votto?

The Reds have fended off all trade inquiries about their All-Star first baseman, with Walt Jocketty stating flatly that the team is trying to win and keeping the club's best player -- and Votto is arguably among the sport's two or three best players -- is part of that strategy. But other clubs continue to circle the Reds like sharks, believing that eventually the financial reality that Cincinnati will struggle to keep Votto may manifest itself; Votto is in line to earn $25 million a year, or more, with his next contract, which would represent about 30 percent of Cincinnati's budget.

If the Reds contend this summer, of course, there is no chance he would be traded during the season."

Basing mainly off the team's recent moves, I'd say it's highly unlikely Votto gets traded at all next season. Walt Jocketty and the Reds are clearly "in it to win it" in 2012, and are doing all they can to make that happen.

However, if the 2013 campaign appears bleak, or the team falls well out of the postseason race by mid-season, we could see a deal involving Votto come to fruition. Nonetheless, I don't see a scenario where the 2010 NL MVP stays in Cincinnati beyond 2013 -- at which time his current contract will expire and the free agent money he will warrant will be much more than the team can afford.

To put it simply, the club's window of opportunity to win is NOW, but that window may not be open for long.

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