Central Notes: Votto, Canha, Montgomery

MLB Trade Rumors

The Reds declined their club option on franchise icon Joey Votto yesterday. In a statement from GM Nick Krall yesterday on the move, he emphasized that he didn’t believe that the necessary at-bats would be available to Votto in 2024 for him to remain with the team, seemingly indicating that the odds of the sides getting together on a smaller deal were remote. That being said, per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon and Charlie Goldsmith of The Cincinnati Enquirer, neither side is shutting the door on a potential reunion just yet.

“I’m not closing the door on anything,” Krall said (as relayed by Sheldon), “I just think with the players we have on our roster right now, there’s no playing time [for Votto]… It would be tough to have him as just a pinch-hitter bat off the bench with the way our roster is constructed right now.” Krall went on to acknowledge that it will be “tough to watch” if Votto winds up playing in another uniform next year after departing the Reds.

It’s easy to see what Krall means regarding the club’s crunch for roster space on the positional side. Jonathan India, Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Noelvi Marte are all big-league ready infielders who ought to be in line for everyday at bats in 2024, meaning that group’s playing time will surely bleed into the outfield and DH slot, where the likes of TJ Friedl, Jake Fraley, and Will Benson also figure to play on a regular basis, to say nothing of players like Stuart Fairchild and Nick Senzel who could also be in line for at-bats. Given the club’s excess of positional talent, it’s hard to see where Votto could fit in for Cincinnati barring a hypothetical trade that clears some of the club’s positional logjam.

For Votto’s part, he seems to hold no ill will against the Reds over the decision. “At 40 years old, a team that’s about to be a championship-caliber team didn’t pick up the option of a guy who hit .200 in back-to-back seasons,” Votto told reporters, including Goldsmith. Goldsmith added that Votto, like Krall, did not want to close the door on a potential return to Cincinnati next year despite becoming a free agent for the first time in his career.

More from around MLB’s Central divisions…

  • Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris spoke to reporters (including Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press and Chris McCosky of The Detroit News) yesterday regarding the club’s acquisition of veteran outfielder Mark Canha from the Brewers. During the conference, Harris noted that the addition of Canha checks the box of “adding a right-handed bat that helps [Detroit] on and off the field” in 2024. As Harris alluded to, Canha’s right-handed bat will serve as an excellent complement to an all-lefty outfield of Kerry Carpenter, Parker Meadows, Akil Baddoo, and Riley Greene while also affording fellow righty hitter Matt Vierling more opportunities to play at third base. Harris also praised the ability of Canha, 35 in February, to mentor the club’s young roster as a “high-character” player whose calling card is his superlative plate discipline, with strikeout and walk rates that are well above the league average. For Canha’s part, McCosky notes that the veteran praised the team’s young core, saying that “A team is never as far away from where they want to be as it feels like. All it takes is a little nudge.”
  • The White Sox parted ways with longtime shortstop Tim Anderson yesterday, adding shortstop to a list of positions that need to be filled this offseason that already includes right field, catcher, and second base. MLB.com’s Scott Merkin relays that shortstop prospect Colson Montgomery, who is expected to be the club’s long-term solution at short, has his sights set on making the club’s Opening Day roster in 2024. “I’m confident I could have that spot, but you never know,” Montgomery said regarding the Opening Day shortstop job, “As a competitor and as a baseball player, you want to push yourself… I’m going to chase for it.” Montgomery entered the 2023 season as a consensus top-40 prospect in the sport and .287/.456/.484 in 64 games this games this year while advancing to Double-A.

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