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Joey Votto lands with Blue Jays: Former Reds mainstay will try to make Opening Day roster in Toronto

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The Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a deal with veteran first baseman Joey Votto, he revealed on social media Friday. Votto’s deal is as a non-roster invitee, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. For those unfamiliar with baseball’s transaction jargon, that means Votto will be part of Toronto’s spring training roster, but that he is not contractually assured of making the Opening Day roster.

Votto, 40, will enjoy a homecoming of sorts if he’s able to make the Opening Day roster. He was born in Toronto and attended high school at Richview Collegiate Institute, located in Etobicoke. To date, he had spent his entire career as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds declined their club option on his services earlier this winter, making him a free agent for the first time.

Alas, the potential future Hall of Famer had found a chilly reception on the free-agent market due to a combination of his age, his lack of defensive flexibility, and his recent performances. Last season, he batted .202/.314/.433 (99 OPS+) with 14 home runs and 38 runs batted in across 65 games. His contributions were estimated to be lower than the replacement level, according to the calculations at Baseball-Reference.

Indeed, Votto has not finished on the sunny side of replacement level since the 2021 season. He was good enough that year to receive downballot consideration of the Most Valuable Player Award, a piece of hardware that he previously won in 2010. Votto for his career has batted .294/.409/.511 (144 OPS+) with 356 home runs and 64.4 Wins Above Replacement.

If Votto does make the Blue Jays Opening Day roster, he would serve as a left-handed complement to first baseman Vladimir Guerrero and designated hitter Justin Turner, both right-handed hitters. With that in mind, it is worth noting that Votto has not performed up to his usual standards against right-handed pitchers in recent years, posting OPS of .682 and 703 when granted the platoon advantage the last two seasons.

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