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Report: Blue Jays, Reds discussed Votto last year

Joe Robbins / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Before orchestrating a trade deadline bonanza that brought Troy Tulowitzki and David Price (among others) north of the border last July, then-Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulous reportedly started "serious discussions" with the Cincinnati Reds about a deal for Etobicoke native Joey Votto, sources told Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star.

The talks never gained momentum, however, even with the Reds expected to eat some of the money owed to Votto, roughly $182 million through 2023 (including a $7-million buyout on a $20-million team option for 2024).

Thirteen months later, it remains unclear if the Blue Jays - under new management following Anthopoulos' unexpected October departure - are at all inclined to reopen that conversation with the rebuilding Reds, who, since the end of the 2015 season, have traded away Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman, and Jay Bruce.

Though Votto, at 32, remains one of the game's elite hitters - and a massive upgrade over Toronto's incumbent first baseman, Justin Smoak - the Blue Jays may not be willing to take on that kind of money, having already committed more than $107 million to next year's payroll before factoring in arbitration salaries. Even if the Blue Jays - tied for first place in the AL East at 70-54 - were prepared to take on that contract, there's no guarantee Votto would make it through trade waivers.

2013 6.0 155 .435 24 0.98
2014 1.0* 128 .390 6 0.96
2015 7.5 173 .459 29 1.06
2016 3.6 151 .433 20 0.84

*Votto played in only 62 games due to a quad injury

Votto, meanwhile, made it clear in December he has no interest in waiving his no-trade clause.

"I absolutely love playing here," Votto said. "When all this trade stuff gets going, it's natural for a player to have that thought process and what would you consider? I just absolutely love playing here. I really like where I live. I like my team and my job. I like the location of the ballpark and the fans and the clubhouse and the uniform and the number on my back - all the littlest things that people take for granted are very comfortable to me and something I look forward to. I don't think of myself as anything other than a Cincinnati Red. It's one of the really cool things about having a no-trade clause. I'm one of the rare players who has that. I get to stay a Cincinnati Red."

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