Reds first baseman Joey Votto spent nearly a month on the disabled list with a quadriceps injury suffered in mid-May and now, after hitting just .250 with a .699 OPS in 23 games since returning, the former MVP is headed back to the disabled list with the same injury.
Cincinnati used backup catcher Brayan Pena as the primary first baseman during Votto’s previous DL stint, but he lacks any sort of offensive upside and … well, hits like a backup catcher.
Last night Pena was unavailable due to being on paternity leave, so the Reds sacrificed some defense by shifting Jay Bruce from right field to first base and used Skip Schumaker in right field.
There’s no great in-house solution to replace Votto because the Reds obviously weren’t planning to be without their $225 million franchise player for long stretches, but replacing his production this season won’t be as tough as years past. Votto has continued to get on base at a very strong clip thanks to his excellent plate discipline, but he’s hit just .255 with six homers and a .409 slugging percentage in 62 games overall and his .799 OPS is 151 points below his career mark.
At age 31 he’s being paid just $12 million this season, but Votto is owed another $213 million from 2015-2023.
Update #2 (6:21 PM EST): Make that $37.5 million, per Heyman.
Update (6:02 PM EST): The deal is for “around” $37 million with deferrals that lower the present-day value, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that free agent 1B/OF Mark Trumbo is close to a deal with the Orioles. He first reported that the two sides were back in touch earlier on Thursday afternoon. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the deal is expected to be for three years and under $40 million.
Trumbo’s market hasn’t developed as he expected. The slugger turned down the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer back in November. Then the Orioles reportedly made a four-year contract offer to him in December but pulled it off the table. Most recently, a report indicated that Trumbo lowered his expectations to a three-year deal in the $40-50 million range.
Trumbo, 31, led the majors with 47 homers for the Orioles this past season. He also hit a solid .256/.316/.433 with 108 RBI in 667 plate appearances. With Trumbo back in the fold and some slight offensive upgrades made, the Orioles figure to have a formidable offense in 2017.
The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.