Angels first base free agent target spurns LA for AL East

The Angels missed out once again.

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19)
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Not many teams were linked to free agent first baseman Joey Votto this offseason, but the Los Angeles Angels were one of them. Several MLB Insiders had mentioned that Votto was drawing interest from the Halos after the Cincinnati Reds declined his $20 million club option earlier this offseason.

But it would seem that either Votto had no interest in playing baseball the West Coast, or the Angels never made an offer. On Friday, it was reported by Buster Olney, and later confirmed by Votto himself, that the six-time All-Star had agreed to a non-roster deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

This would seem to be yet another swing and miss on the part of the Angels' front office this offseason. While Votto's production certainly what it was during his MVP season, surely LA could've matched or exceeded the non-roster offer Toronto gave him, right?

Joey Votto spurns LA Angels for Toronto Blue Jays

The Angels are likely to send Nolan Schanuel onto the field as their Opening Day first baseman later this month. The former first-round pick is expected to make an impact atop the Angels lineup in 2024, but has just 29 major league games under his belt. Adding a veteran like Votto would've given the Angels some insurance in the event that Schanuel struggles only a year after being drafted.

Signing Votto would've undoubtedly helped draw fans out to the ballpark as well. With Shohei Ohtani no longer in the Angels lineup, LA is trying to remake its roster with a bunch of new, young faces like Schanuel, Logan O'Hoppe, and Zach Neto. Having a recognizable star like Votto as part of the lineup every night could've helped ticket sales.

Furthermore, the Angels aren't very deep around the infield. With Anthony Rendon (checks notes) hurt again, Brandon Drury will likely see a ton of time at the hot corner. That would seem to open up the DH spot for power-hitting left-handed bats. If only there was an inexpensive player who could've filled that role.

Votto's continued call all winter was just finding a team that would allow him to play. What did the Angels have to lose? It would seem to be of little concern now, as the future Hall of Famer has returned to his hometown team. The Angels' options to help fill out the roster with major league quality players is quickly evaporating, and Opening Day is less than three weeks away.

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