With the 2023 season officially in the books for the Toronto Blue Jays, they will now head into the upcoming offseason with a fair number of players heading into free agency. Among that group includes veteran designated hitter Brandon Belt.
The Jays signed Belt to a one-year deal this past offseason to add a power lefty bat to the lineup, as well as bringing in his wealth of experience and leadership to the ballclub. Belt certainly did not disappoint during the MLB regular season, as he batted .254 with an .858 OPS, with 53 runs scored, 19 home runs and 43 RBI. However, given his prior postseason experience on the biggest stage, going hitless with five strikeouts in two games during the AL Wild Card series against the Minnesota Twins left a lot to be desired.
Belt is unsure of whether or not if he will be back with the Jays in 2024, or in fact in professional baseball at all as he had hinted about potential retirement in an earlier interview a few weeks ago. With that uncertainty in mind, should the Jays pursue a Canadian legend instead for his replacement?
Recently on the Dan Patrick Show, Cincinnati Reds’ star and Canadian-born Joey Votto revealed that he wants to have another go for one more season, and that if the Reds wanted to move on from him, he is open to opportunities playing somewhere else.
What better place to play than in his hometown city of Toronto with the Blue Jays. As a left-handed bat with a breadth of experience, Votto would be the perfect replacement for Belt. Even though he may already be 40, he was actually still quite productive in terms of run production. His batting average may no longer be what it used to be, but for the 2022 season, Votto hit 14 home runs and tallied 38 RBI in just 65 games played, so projected over an entire season, that would be over 30 home runs and 80 RBI. Obviously at this point in his career, he probably won’t be taking on a heavy game workload, but it gives you an idea that he can still be productive whenever called upon.
More importantly, Votto can help the Jays solve their long-time troubles of hitting with runners in scoring position. Last season, he hit .283 with a 1.062 OPS, seven home runs and 30 RBI in those situations. Just for comparison, as effective as Belt was, he only hit .208 with a .705 OPS with RISP. So it appears already that Votto could be a massive upgrade over Belt.