Padres Rumors: Could Joey Votto be a surprising target for San Diego?

The Padres have been searching for a left-handed bat all offseason.
Joey Votto, San Diego Padres, Manny Machado
Joey Votto, San Diego Padres, Manny Machado / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Joey Votto, for the first time in his career, is a free agent. The six-time All-Star and former NL MVP was not retained by the Cincinnati Red earlier this offseason, and has been looking for a new place to call home. Why not southern California?

The San Diego Padres are in need of a left-handed bat -- preferably one that can man first base and act as a designated hitter. Votto fits that description perfectly and, after his below-average performance in 2023, he won't be able to command a large salary. Not to mention, the Reds already paid Votto's $7 million buyout earlier this winter.

It was recently reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, that Votto had three potential suitors. Votto hilariously corrected Nightengale, saying the number is actually four and used a Care Bears GIF as part of his response. Could the Padres be one of them?

Padres Rumors: Could Joey Votto be a surprising target for San Diego?

Most baseball experts have linked Joey Votto back to his hometown Toronto Blue Jays. And while there's certainly merit to the idea of homecoming, Votto may be entertaining other offers.

The Padres could greatly benefit from Votto's leadership and talent. While Votto actually had reverse-splits last season and played better against left-handed pitching, for his career, the 40-year-old has a career .951 OPS against right-handed pitching.

Adding Votto could also help move Jake Cronenworth back to his natural position at second base. There is a possibility that Ha-Seong Kim could be moved this offseason, which would leave a hole at the keystone.

New Padres manager Mike Shildt could deploy an infield of Votto, Cronenworth, Xander Bogaerts, and Manny Machado if Kim is traded. If Kim stays put, Votto can rotate in the lineup as a first baseman and designated hitter.

While Votto's numbers from last season are nowhere near what baseball fans are used to, it's worth mentioning that he returned from a serious shoulder injury that undoubtedly played a role in his poor production.

There are other options the Padres could turn to if San Diego decides not to pursue Votto. But adding a future Hall of Famer to that clubhouse will do nothing but help the Friars' pursuit of the postseason in 2024.