The Cincinnati Reds have a decision to make on Joey Votto and the 2024 season here soon. The club holds an option on his contract for next year. They can choose to bring him back by picking up his option for $20,000,000. Or they can buy him out for $7,000,000 and allow him to become a free agent. There’s also an option of simply trying to renegotiate with him before he would become a free agent. Votto, at the conclusion of the season, was non-committal towards whether he wanted to retire or continue playing.
A few days later he seems to have made up his mind that he would like to continue playing. This morning on the Dan Patrick Show, Votto said that he would like to play at least one more year. And that while he hopes that is with the Reds, that if they don’t pick up his option he appears open to playing for another organization.
Joey Votto says he wants to play "at least one more year", whether that be with the Reds or another MLB team.
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) October 6, 2023
To be specific with what Votto said, he was asked about “if you had your druthers” with regards to returning to the Reds, he said “Yeah, of course.”
Patrick followed up by asking “but if the Reds decide they are not going to exercise that option”, Votto said “Then I’ll have a new experience,” and later continued “If not, then I’ll have a new experience. I’ll be a free agent for the first time in my professional baseball career. I don’t know how excited I am about that.”
From there the conversation went in other directions, including Votto’s willingness to be the backup boyfriend for Taylor Swift. If you have Peacock you can go back and watch the entire 14-minute segment.
It seems as obvious as it can be that the Cincinnati Reds will not be picking up Joey Votto’s $20,000,000 option. They’ll instead pay him $7,000,000 to buy out that final year. What isn’t clear is what happens after that. Votto was clear earlier today that he plans to continue to play, whether that is in Cincinnati or elsewhere (though he did note if no one in baseball has interest, he’s applied to chef school so he’s got his future lined up otherwise). What the Reds want to do, though, is unclear. They likely don’t want to pay him $20,000,000. But would they be open to bringing him back in 2024 at something lower than that?
If they are, then the question becomes what role would that be in? And if it’s not a “mostly starting unless a tough lefty is on the mound” kind of role, would Joey Votto be open to that in order to play one more in Cincinnati? Would another team be more open to giving him a bigger role – at least until he proves otherwise (which may or may not happen) – and that would push him to signing elsewhere even if there were some interest from the Reds?
We’ll find out in about a month on the option, though we all know how that specific part will play out. After that, though, is where things will get more interesting.
A few hours before Votto’s appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, Jason Linden wrote all about Votto here on the digital pages of Redleg Nation. If you missed out on it, you should check it out.
If this is it for Joey Votto in Cincinnati, well, then we’ve got this moment following his final home game at Great American Ball Park to remember.
To: Reds Country
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 24, 2023