The Los Angeles Angels have done a nice job improving what was once again a lackluster bullpen in 2023, but still have a ton of holes to fill as Spring Training approaches. Arguably the biggest one is the one left in their lineup with Shohei Ohtani departing.
The Angels were about average offensively this past season, but that was with Ohtani having one of the best offensive seasons in franchise history. Letting him go and doing nothing to replace him should not be an option, but we're here in late January and the Angels have not signed a single position player to a MLB contract.
While they've yet to put pen to paper, they have shown interest in several position players with the latest one being a bit confusing. If this was 2010 when Joey Votto won an MVP it'd be a no-brainer, but 2024 Joey Votto being an Angels target according to Jon Heyman on a BR Livestream makes little sense.
LA Angels rumored interest in Joey Votto only works if he'll accept a bench role
Votto is a former MVP and one of the greatest players over the last decade. He's a six-time All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, and has an absurdly great eye. While Votto is on his way to the Hall of Fame one day, he's now 40 years old and not the best fit for this Angels team.
Votto will not be signing on to be a bench player. If he only had options to sign as a bench player, he certainly wouldn't choose the Angels over other teams. If the Angels were to sign him, he'd be playing most of the time, at the very least against right-handed pitching. While he's not the worst option in the world, the Angels certainly can and should do better.
The two spots that make sense for Votto as a first baseman would be for him to play first base or DH. Well, Nolan Schanuel, a promising rookie who looked like he belonged in his first month plus in the majors is slated to play at first base. The Angels could send him down to the minors for more seasoning, but that wouldn't make much sense. The DH spot would likely be handled by Luis Rengifo if the season started today. While Rengifo can be streaky, he's certainly earned regular playing time with how well he finished last season.
Votto has dealt with injuries in each of the last two years, playing under 100 games in both seasons. His production has taken a hit as well, as he's posted a .712 OPS since the start of 2022. While it could be worse, that's not the production you want from a first baseman or DH playing regularly.
Votto would be a terrific mentor for a player like Schanuel, but should not be getting much playing time at all barring injury. If he's willing to take a very reduced role, it could make sense. However, it's just hard to imagine that happening, making him a questionable fit at best. The Angels should be looking for a more impactful player to take Ohtani's spot in the lineup, not penny pinching with 40-year-old Joey Votto.