(Please welcome Ashley Davis; this is her first post for the Nation.)

I’ve been scratching my head these last few weeks over all this talk about the Reds trading Joey Votto. A couple of weeks ago, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer posted something about the Reds possibly being interested in a trade of Votto for Jose Bautista. Some fans, fueled by a certain sports talk radio host, agreed with this and thought that the Reds would be a better team with Bautista in left field and Yonder Alonso at first base. And now, some fans want Votto to move to left field to accommodate Alonso.

I get that baseball is a business and the Reds are a small market team in said business. They’re going to have a big decision to make after 2013 when Votto becomes a free agent. In fact, they might even have a decision to make after next year when his salary goes up to $17 million. That’s a lot of money for this team, even with growing attendance numbers. But, is it really worth it to trade a MVP player and in return, play a young first baseman who has only 55 plate appearances in the major leagues?

The reasons I think trading Votto, especially for Bautista, is a bad idea:

1. Bautista will be 31 this offseason. Votto will be 28 in September. Votto is in his prime right now. Although Bautista has had a great year this year, possibly even an MVP year, he still only has a career batting average of .253 with an OBP of .358. Votto has a career batting average of .315 with an OBP of .407. Nobody knew about Bautista until last year when he started banging out home runs. He was just an average player until 2010, his breakout year. Who’s to say that in coming years he’ll be as good as he was this year? Maybe Bautista is just having a breakout year and next year he’ll be as good as this year, but why take that chance when Votto has already proven that he can hit every year.

2. Yonder Alonso is only 24. He’s still somewhat of an unproven player at the major league level. Don’t get me wrong, I do think Alonso is the Reds best up and coming hitter, but he hasn’t played an entire MLB season yet. Votto is a MVP. Even though Votto hasn’t had a season like last year, he still has really good numbers. Alonso can hit well, but do you really want to sacrifice your best hitter for an unproven player?

3. Many fans come to the ballpark to see Votto. I think that Votto is to Cincinnati what Albert Pujols is to St. Louis in that he’s one of the players who people buy tickets to watch. Fans spend lots of money to wear his jersey. He brings in money for the Reds.

I understand why some people might like the idea of trading Votto. Some fans, though they don’t want him to leave, think that he’s going to want to leave when he becomes a free agent in 2013 because the Reds won’t be able to take on his salary. They think that if the Reds play Alonso at first, it will give them
some stability at first now instead of sitting Alonso now and then potentially changing first basemen in a couple years. Alonso would have some years to develop and would be even better in a couple of years.

My solution would be to have Alonso finish out the year playing left field. He played there most of the year in Louisville. He should get a chance to try to play that position with the Reds. Unlike what some people have talked about in the last couple of days, keep Votto at first. I don’t think Votto is selfish if he wants to stay at first; he’s worked hard to improve himself at that position. He’s not like Pujols in that he’s played another position enough in the past that he could move fairly easily. I think that if he stays at first, he could win a Gold Glove sometime in the future. I think that having Votto and Alonso rather than Bautista (or someone else) and Alonso on the team for at least two more years is going to help them get back to the playoffs sooner. Don’t fans want to see Joey play here for as long as he can before he potentially leaves after 2013?