Joey Votto has never played for an organization that wasn’t the Cincinnati Reds. He was selected by the team in the 2nd round of the 2002 Major League Baseball draft. Votto then worked his way up through the minor leagues, stopping at every minor league affiliate along the way as he climbed the ladder and made his big league debut in September of 2007. 15 years later he’s still a Cincinnati Red and we’re capable of looking back at what should eventually be a Hall of Fame career. But Votto’s career isn’t over yet. The 2023 season is the last guaranteed year on his contract, but the team holds an option for 2024 as well.

The decision on the 2024 season comes down to a lot of things. First is whether or not Votto wants to continue playing. He’s coming off of a pretty serious shoulder surgery. How he plays, how he feels – those things will play into his decision. But how he plays will also factor into the Reds decision if he wants to continue to play. If he does, then for the front office the decision will be whether or not they want to pay him $7M to not play for them, or to pick up his $20M option. The real factor here is whether the team believes that he will be worth the difference – $13M. That decision may not be only about his on-field production, but could also involve simply doing the right thing and keeping around a legend that wants to still be around.

This morning, though, an interesting thing was said by Reds general manager Nick Krall while on MLB Network Radio.

Having not listened, there would be some context missing here that we’re unaware of. The specificity of the Toronto Blue Jays suggests that maybe the question was asked “if Votto requested a trade to his home town team” rather than Nick Krall offering up one individual team that Votto could be traded to.

Votto has stated in the past – as recently as the offseason – that he wants to remain a Cincinnati Red for life. And with the inability to trade him without his permission, first and foremost that decision is up to him. But there’s always the chance that as his career winds down that he could change his mind.

If the team comes to Votto before the trade deadline and informs him that they won’t be picking up his 2024 option, but he still plans on playing, perhaps that opens up his options for exploring a trade knowing that his “forever a Red” situation isn’t going to happen.

For now, nothing is known here. Votto’s back and playing in games, but it’s still spring training and he only has four games played. Things seem to be going just fine and he’s back in the lineup this afternoon. We’ll all have to sit back and watch this year to see how the first half plays out for Votto and maybe we’ll start to get some indications of both his decision and the organization’s decision as to what could happen in July or the offseason.

40 Responses

  1. Redsfan11

    Bobby wouldn’t hesitate to trade the best Reds player in my generation to save a few mil.

  2. MBS

    If it was a scenario where JV wanted to go to the Jays, then sure. I’d rather see him retire a Red at the end of 23, or maybe even 24 if JV pulls his best Tom Brady impression.

    • JB

      I think Votto will have a decent year. I think the shift will help him this year get back those hits to right that were taken away by the shift.

  3. JB

    I would like Joey to get his career average back to .300. I’m not sure what that would take this year to make that happen but if someone would like to figure that out, I would appreciate it.

    • Travis

      Votto is 20 hits shy of hit ting .300. If he gets 500 at bats this year he would need 170 hits, a .340 average, to get back to .300 for his career.

    • Doc

      Somebody already did figure it out and posted it here. I believe he said Votto needs to hit .357, or something like that, based on the assumptions he made about plate appearances and at bats.

      • Tom Diesman

        Assuming 400 PA and 56 BB, he have to hit .349 (120 for 344) to get back to a career .300 BA.

  4. LDS

    Keep Votto, trade Bell. Pinder starting yet again while Barrero is slated for the OF. JV is worth much, much more than Bell.

    • Chris Holbert

      Switching positions, for top prospects, after the get to the major leagues, is the Reds (Bell’s) MO. Can you say Senzel? How is that working out?

      • Old Big Ed

        Stop. Barrero played some CF in Cuba, plus some in Cincinnati. He made an excellent catch there yesterday. Great athletes can change positions easily. Robin Young and Craig Biggio did it, among many others. Barrero would be the best defensive CF in the organization (other than Siani) in about 3 weeks. So would EDLC.

        Senzel just isn’t as athletic or twitchy as Barrero or EDLC, and he is a mediocre defender everywhere. The Reds got unlucky the year they drafted Senzel, because it was a very thin draft. He just is not that good. He once had decent straightaway foot speed, but he has a weak first step.

        The Reds didn’t ruin Senzel any more than they ruined Chris Heisey. Both of them are who they are.

      • Jim Walker

        @OBE>> +10K on Senzel. I appreciate the guy gives what is there to give but at this point it just isn’t there (if it ever was).

        A person has to wonder if kids getting into uber competitive travelling leagues at younger and younger ages and playing or training year round like professional athletes is leading to their bodies simply wearing down and out at younger ages.

      • greenmtred

        OBE and Jim: Really appreciate your excellent comments.

    • Doc

      Offer JV the manager position for 2024.

    • Melvin

      Maybe the answer is moving Bell around to different positions within the organization to make him more “versatile “. 🙂

    • Jimbo44CN

      Heck YEAHHHH!
      OMG what does he see in PInder?

  5. MK

    Not really the subject but I question your adjective of Hall of Fame here, when I see the lack of support for guys like Fred McGriff , Gil Hodges and Todd Helton I have to feel Joe is going to have the same challenges, especially when a guy like Albert Pujols career is basically the same time period. Joe hasn’t accumulated the numbers yet to turn a head with less than 2200 hits at this point, and the last three years being a little below average.

  6. Bdh

    Votto will be a red this year and next.

  7. Larry Baker

    We will always be a Reds fan first. Players come and go. It’s not like the Reds and Votto have a history of winning. No championships. Might be time to trade Votto to a winning team that might get him a ring. If you are a big Votto fan, wouldn’t you like to see him in the World Series. You are dreaming if you think Votto will be playing in the World Series with the Reds in the near future. Votto playing or not playing, the Reds are not setup to win championships. Why not allow Votto to play on a winning team in his last years of his career. Never understood why Votto had not asked for a trade to a winning team. Most players want to win championships. Votto has done his years with the Reds, you can’t blame him for wanting to finish on a winning championship team. Time to let Votto go.

    • redfanorbust

      Hey Larry as far as I know Reds have not tried to trade Votto and Votto has not asked for a trade and I seriously doubt that the Reds would block a trade request if he asked for one. Then there are the Blue Jays which I assume would be the team he would want to go to. Not sure they would have room for him. Plus they might be on the hook for the rest of his 23 salary and his 24 buyout. Votto as most know has a no trade clause and obviously was perfectly happy to stay with a team as bad as the Reds have been weather or not we understand it. IMO let Joey finish out the year as a Red get the send off he and the fans deserve and if he wants to continue to play for a winning team he can sign with one after 23.

  8. docproc

    And the Blue Jays would want him why?

  9. old-school

    Bowden also tweeted Krall Said the Mets have not called about Alexis Diaz.

    • Melvin

      That may be true, I don’t know, but when it comes to Jim Bowden he ranks right up there with Big Bob & Son in terms of trustworthiness.

  10. Votto4life

    Well of course they would. If it saves them a few quid, they would trade Rosie Red herself.

    • Votto4life

      On the other hand, it would make the decision not to follow the reds at all this season that much easier.

      • Tar Heel Red

        I would actually watch the Reds more this season if Votto were gone.

    • Votto4life

      And I’m sure little Phil appreciates it.

    • Old Big Ed

      The Reds would not be able to trade Votto, without agreeing to pay the vast majority of his contract. They can’t save any money by trading him. The Reds would accommodate a trade request to Toronto, because they believe that Votto has earned that accommodation.

      I think the chances of a trade are remote.

  11. Mary Beth Ellis

    (rubs hands over face, sighs)

    I’m so exhausted by this franchise and it’ s not even Opening Day yet

    • Votto4life

      Nothing is going to change as long as the Castellinis are in charge. The day Bob sells the team will be the single greatest day in franchise history.

  12. MercerRed

    IF Joey comes to the Reds with a trade request, they should do everything they can to make it happen. If a player doesn’t want to be around, mov’em on.
    As far as JV for the HOF, the last 5 yrs of sub .300 avg., no championships, over 1000 rbi and 1000 hits less than Pujols. Not to mention how he he is going to stack up against Goldschmidt.
    When Joey was focused on walks to improve OBP around 2015, the lack of potential run production will hurt him come ballot time.

    • Still a Red

      Not sure these are the metrics that count any more. Votto still on top for 1B in wRC+ and WAR between 2002 and 2022 according to FanGraphs. That these stats don’t sync with numbers of world series rings or total RBI, or batting average is a whole different conversation.

      • greenmtred

        To my mind, the absence of WS rings is irrelevant. Baseball is not a sport in which one player, no matter how good, can carry a team for 162 games and the postseason.

  13. Brad

    I would do this trade only if Joey asked for it and they take Krall and Bell. I would even eat the last two’s salary.

    • Votto4life

      If Toronto took Bob and little Phil, I would gladly include EDLC. No, I mean I really would.

      • Melvin

        Well. One could argue that we won’t keep EDLC OR be competitive anyway while Big Bob & Son are running things so I understand where you’re coming from.

  14. Andrew man

    I’m confused why Krall would even put this out there. Is he hoping that Votto comes to him requesting a trade? Most teams want to give a guy like Votto a huge send off. The Reds are crossing their finger in hopes he doesn’t want to be here anymore. Just super weird.

  15. old-school

    Krall would only trade votto at the deadline if the REds were out of it and Votto requested it AND Toronto were in it. Otherwise, the plan is for Votto to retire a Red. If the Reds traded him at the deadline, his remaining contract for 2023 would be about $8 million for august, September plus the $7 million buyout in 2024. Reds arent trading him and paying $15 million to do so. I could see Reds sending reminder of his 2023 salary but Toronto picking up the buyout or re-negotiating the price to play in 2024. Most of this is pure speculation because it’s dependent upon Votto performing in 2023 and none of us know how productive a hitter he will be. We can all root for that for sure.

    • Jim Walker

      It has been suggested by Ol’ Leatherpants Jim Bowden that Krall was laying out the dots and inviting Toronto/ JV to connect them if they were interested in making it happen.

      My guess is the Reds would split the remaining 2023 salary 50/50 and tell the Jays 2024 option was between them and Votto thus taking $15m off the Reds 2023 books since option payouts are typically back charged to the just completed season.

      Given the US$ vs CAN$ and different taxation systems, there are a lot of things for the teams and Votto to get aligned and figured out upfront which may be why Krall’s comment was made at this particular time.