Toronto Blue Jays sign Canadian slugger Joey Votto to minor-league deal

By Ben Nicholson-Smith, Sportsnet

Joey Votto, the likely Hall of Famer from Etobicoke, Ont., announced Friday that he’s signing a minor-league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, the team he cheered for growing up.

Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports that Votto’s deal includes a base salary of $2 million in the major leagues and an additional $2 million in incentives.

Votto confirmed the transaction in his own tweet on Friday.

“I am excited about the opportunity to work my way back to the Major Leagues. It’s even sweeter to attempt this while wearing the uniform of my hometown team, the Toronto Blue Jays,” Votto wrote Friday on X.

The move adds intrigue to the Blue Jays’ bench as the 40-year-old Votto has one of the best batting eyes of his generation to go along with 356 career home runs. But he was limited to 65 games a year ago as he returned from a back injury, and hit .202/.314/.433 with 14 home runs. How much he can contribute in his 18th career season remains to be seen.

“He’s had a tremendous career and has accolades that can go on and on,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. “His plate discipline, power, overall reputation as a competitor and what he has brought to teams that has played on.”

Once he joins the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., he’ll likely be in the mix for a bench role. His presence will seemingly make it harder for Daniel Vogelbach to break camp with the team on a minor-league deal of his own that would pay $2 million at the big-league level.

The deal is pending a physical and could be made official in the coming days.

Votto spent the first 17 seasons of his career with the Cincinnati Reds, hitting .294/.409/.511 on his way to six all-star selections and an MVP. A source said other contending teams pursued Votto before he signed with Toronto.

Santiago Espinal, Eduardo Escobar, Ernie Clement, Davis Schneider, and Spencer Horwitz are also competing for spots on the Blue Jays’ bench.

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