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September 23, 2011; Pittsburgh,PA, USA: Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) in the on-deck circle against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

Chicago Tribune: Blue Jays are just 1 [Joey Votto] trade away

Last week, Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune touched on the Blue Jays in his power rankings, but it wasn’t the No. 15 ranking that made the article stand out.

“One more year, two at the most,” Rogers writes, describing the time at which he feels that the Jays will contend. After all, the team is, to him, “just one blockbuster trade away” from that stage, and the player that the Jays should target is none other than Reds first baseman Joey Votto. It’s “inevitable,” Rogers adds, since he feels that Votto would be the perfect piece to complete Alex Anthopoulos’ upgrading of the team.

So trading for or signing Votto would, in addition to giving the Jays a MVP first baseman, put an end to all of the uncertainty surrounding the starting rotation and give the Jays a long-term option at second base while sorting out left field and DH? Got it.

Regardless of Votto’s apparent fit on the Blue Jays and the fact that he’s Canadian, the 2012-13 off-season is going to be particularly interesting for the Etobicoke, Ontario native.

After upgrading their pitching this winter by adding starter Mat Latos and relievers Ryan Madson and Sean Marshall, the Reds look set for impressive 2012 campaign, which could work wonders when it comes time to ultimately decide Votto’s fate at season’s end: sign him to an extension, trade him, or let him play through the 2013 season and likely let him walk via free agency. In any scenario, he won’t come cheap.

Whether it’s an extension with the Reds or with another club on the open market, Votto’s next contract is going to be a big one. The Reds can kiss any chance of Votto giving them a hometown discount goodbye, and MLB Trade Rumors estimates that his next deal will be in the neighborhood of seven years and $161 million, or $23 million per season.

It’s hard to imagine the Jays, even in a better position from an organizational standpoint, handing Votto that kind of money in 2013, let alone breaking their five-year maximum rule on contracts. To Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, trading for Votto next winter and giving up a package of prospects for only one guaranteed year in 2013 likely doesn’t make sense, either.

With Adrian Gonzalez in Boston and Mark Teixeira in New York, the Jays would be able to keep pace with an elite first baseman of their own in Votto, and the guaranteed portion of Adam Lind’s contract conveniently comes to an end when Votto is scheduled to hit free agency. However, even if the Jays are in a better position from an organizational standpoint at that time, I just can’t see them paying top dollar for Votto, even if he’d be a great fit

-JM

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