Joey Votto re-injures quadriceps, goes back on disabled list

11 Comments

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.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
11 Comments

The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.