The Cincinnati Reds had until Monday to decide on whether or not they would pick up or decline the option on Joey Votto for the 2024 season. They dropped the news at 11:45am on Saturday that they would not be picking up his option for $20,000,000 and would instead be paying him a $7,000,000 buyout. That makes Votto a free agent for the first time in his career.
The Reds released this statement, from President of Baseball Operations Nick Krall, on the move:
“For 17 seasons, Joey has been the heart of Reds baseball as a Most Valuable Player, All-Star and respected clubhouse leader. His contributions to our team and his extraordinary generosity toward those in need, throughout our region and beyond, cannot be measured.”
“At this point of the off-season, based on our current roster and projected plans for 2024, as an organization we cannot commit to the playing time Joey deserves. He forever will be part of the Reds’ family, and at the appropriate time we will thank and honor him as one of the greatest baseball players of this or any generation.”
Votto was drafted out of high school by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2nd round of the 2002 draft. He was selected as a catcher, but that didn’t last very long before he was moved to first base where he has spent almost all of his career since. There was a short period of time where he did play in left field on a limited basis before he went back to first base full time.
Making his debut in September of 2007, Joey Votto played 17 years with the big league club. He won the National League’s Most Valuable Player award in 2010. He was a 6-time All-Star. Votto hit .294/.409/.511 in 2056 games with Cincinnati. That included 459 doubles, 22 triples, and 356 home runs. During his tenure he led the league in doubles once, walks five times, on-base percentage seven times, slugging percentage once, OPS twice, and intentional walks three times.
Based on the words from Nick Krall, it does not seem like the club has interest in bringing Joey Votto back to the team. Perhaps it’s due to Votto looking for an opportunity to play full time and as noted, the Reds just don’t believe they can offer him that given their roster. Perhaps things change down the line if that opportunity can’t be provided by another team and both sides can see a scenario where more of a bench/platoon/whatever role could make sense. As things stand now, though, that feels unlikely.