A little month. Let us not think of it. Baseball will begin in Cincinnati without Joseph Daniel Votto. Don’t tell me about the money. Given ownership’s refusal to spend on high-end free agent talent, the money was always there to sign the mid-level free agents the Reds coveted, along with the option on Votto, while keeping payroll at Walmart levels.

Don’t talk of money.

The only real case against was the playing time Joey Votto would take away from the development of the team’s future. That argument may have much less merit today in light of his inability to secure an offer from one of the remaining 29 teams.

We know injuries hang over baseball teams like Bay Area fog in the summer. Less mentioned is the regression that too often comes on little cat feet, quietly, and with little fanfare when young players fall victim to the adjustment veteran major leaguers inflict upon their callow peers. Aristides Aquino comes to mind. And while no one believes Christian Encarnacion-Strand will turn into a Pumpkin, there’s no guarantee he’ll become a fully realized Punisher either. And just as the lesson of Nick Senzel be not forgotten, neither should the downward trajectory of once Rookie of the Year and now part-time player Jonathan India be ignored.

But the real argument about bringing the erstwhile MVP back into the fold is not about cost, nor the inevitable injuries or prospect regression; or even his potential lack of production. It’s about the leadership void in a very young clubhouse. For no matter how much Jonathan India proclaims himself a locker room pied piper, he doesn’t bring what Joey Votto does to the table when the topic is leadership. Nor will the arrival of Jeimer Candelario magically turn all eyes toward the well-traveled third baseman and his $45M contract.

The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Gordon Wittenmyer tried making the head-snapping case that this young team would sorely miss Votto, while suggesting they were ready to win without him.

It seems the decade old “need you on third, Brucie” lesson brought to you by Hall-of-Famer Scott Rolen has been largely forgotten or dismissed, as has the more recent leadership seminar courtesy of Will Benson:

“We’re on a flight headed to Boston, and Joey’s like ‘show me your best swing.’ So I showed his those [two 114 mph doubles] and he said, ‘that’s not gonna work.’ I said, ‘what do you mean?’ … He goes ‘look at your path. The path you have created, these balls that are down and away, you shouldn’t be pulling them down the foul line, these balls should be going to centerfield, left center.’ The more we dove into it, he just broke down my work before the game. I told him to be honest with me. He said my pregame work was garbage. Not good … I’m soaking it all up because I know who he was, I watched him play … We just started diving in on path, the precision of your early work, which sets you up for the game, and really, just having him in Boston at that time, watching my work, critiquing it, honestly, seeking perfection out of me really made me want to be perfect myself. That’s kinda where that relationship grew and I’m very grateful because my whole year turned around when I got back and a lot of that started with that conversation.”

Notably, all that happened while Votto was hurt and not a factor on the field at all.

If all that fails to convince, there’s this from the Frontline documentary “The Astros Edge: Triumph and Scandal in Major League Baseball” which detailed one of the key moments in Houston’s landmark 2017 season. The parallels to Votto and to a lesser extent the Reds should be lost on no one:

“The team still had some holes. Their extreme cost-cutting had rid them of most of their expensive veterans. And they had developed a new generation of up-and-coming stars. But that meant they were very young. Lunhow knew they needed an experienced leader to tie everything together. They eventually landed on Carlos Beltran.

“40 years old in 2017, nearing the end of what looked to be a HOF career …, but based on analytics alone it was hard to make a case to sign the aging slugger. But Lunhow agreed to bet big on him—the $16M contract—because of the potential effect he could have on the clubhouse.”

Astros manager of Video and Advance Info, Antonio Padilla, called it a question of “leadership and chemistry. Coming in early. Staying late. Watching video. He was a big part of bringing the team to the next level. He was a walking encyclopedia.

Two things might need to happen. One, the future MVP would need to scale back his money and playing time demands—if he hasn’t already. Two, ownership and the front office needs to buy in.

Just days before his last at bat in a Reds uniform, I was treated to this:

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. The Prince of Process—even as the end approaches—goes about his business, his routine practiced and precise. His look is that of a man locked in to his calculation, the non-believers relegated to that undiscovered country where mere mortals fret and fust, out of sight and out of mind. Nothing interrupts the work, the step-by-step mechanics of perfecting the always imperfect, and in doing so, rediscovering himself once more. Even as the career lamp burns low, the oil nearly spent, there remains illumination to light the way for all that nascent youthful talent and potential he leaves behind to burst into flame.

Somebody tell Will Benson to get Nick Krall on the phone.

127 Responses

  1. A.B.

    Good read, thank you. I’d still love to see him back in a coaching capacity of some sort and not tying up a spot on the active roster.

    • Reaganspad

      Player coach him ala Pete Rose. Don’t use a 40 man slot until injuries abound. Have him go through normal prep and prove he is game ready physically which I am not sure he has been the past 2 years.

      Maybe the quick twitch is gone. Maybe the eyes are not what they used to be. But maybe that shoulder just hasn’t healed until now, or until July 17th when a slot opens, Votto who has been taking his regular turns in the cage while traveling and doing the Benson thing with any of the youngins who want to get better, gets activated and we see a Joey second half at DH. Allows him to play on a World Series Championship team as his swan song.

      You know, the one where he hits the game winning HR in game 7, but tears his Achilles rounding third and headed for home….and at that point he knows he must become the full time hitting coach for the reds

      I don’t want to see Barry Larkin in another uniform

      • Thatthathadhad

        Reds have 13 coaches already. Do they really need the distraction of Joe?

        It’s over.

    • m2

      I continue to be amazed by those advocating Mr. Votto for a coaching or mentorship role. Did you really follow his career – not just the last three to four years. He didn’t demonstrate a consistent interest in anything beyond him. Not only did he not show interest/aptitude in helping others he was loathe to accept criticism. Even in the depths of a hitting-slump plummeting him below the Mendoza line he arrogantly rejected well-meant advice from former team mates and peers. His enigmatic behavior can be characterized by behavior of profanity-laced tirades directed at umpires, players, and fans juxtaposed by outreach into the community and support to the fans – all captured by cameras. Leaders use their knowledge and behavior to influence others. Consider Mr. Votto – his base-running was never a product of maximum effort – never. His fielding (throw out the one Gold Glove?) was not a point of emphasis for him. In fact, during his last five years it became a major liability. Do you think he spent hours trying to make corrections on that? Look I completely understand the “fans” affinity for Mr. Votto, but the cries for resigning him (starting first baseman, DH, player-coach, mentor, developer, scout, bat boy, et al.) are not in the interest of the club – and quite likely counter to the wishes of Mr. Votto. Give him his day of honor, enshrine him at some point in the Red’s Hall of Fame and see if anything mutually makes sense. Thank you

      • Don A

        I agree!! I remember back in the day, the Reds wanted Votto to move to Left Field to make room for Yonder Alonso. He refused!!! I appreciate that he had a very good career, but I do feel he was selfish and was not really willing to do what was best for the team and winning. Pete Rose was willing to play anywhere because he only cared about winning!! India is doing the same!!

      • greenmtred

        The source for your inside information about Votto’s lack of interest?

      • Melvin

        “Pete Rose was willing to play anywhere because he only cared about winning!! India is doing the same!!”

        Being willing and being able are two different things. We’ll see about India. I’ll believe it when I see it with his foot problems. Alonzo was a terrible outfielder and was really only capable of playing 1B. At least in the majors. Perhaps Votto knew we was too. He came up as a catcher for a little while. I doubt he would play there either. Being a Pete Rose was a rare type of player. He STARTED on the all-star team at five different positions. As I recall he was/is the only player to ever accomplish that.

      • DaveCT

        I agree, for a different reason.

        Votto as player coach would be a distraction. There is one manager, with that one manager’s staff. DO NOT interfere with the manager, one. DO NOT interject a player coach for publicity, two.

        Further, teams are groups. Groups are subject to the concepts of group development. When a group member departs. the group has to adjust. It must adjust in order to grow, ‘develop,’ if you will. Why would anyone want to disrupt the team’s development for a public relations ploy?

        I’m sorry. This is absolute nonsense. This idea would be an egregious error.

      • Melvin

        “Perhaps Votto knew HE was too”. ****

      • Richard D Fitch

        People always mention Pete Rose and his willingness to change positions to help the team. But, the fact is, in 1966, manager Don Heffner moved him to third base and Rose sulked, his batting average fell, and Heffner moved Rose back to second.

        Know your Reds history before you run your mouth.

      • Lockersocks79

        You and I have watched different Votto’s. The Joey that I’ve seen has mentored a number of our rookies over the years. He’s taken a knee at the begrudging of many to show support to other teammates because he empathized with them. He reached out a child dying of cancer and befriended him, and when that child passed away, Votto was at his funeral. He’s bleed 100% red for this team when he could have gone to a contender and I still think he bangs!

        Nothings guaranteed with the team coming and a championship isn’t likely with Atlanta and L.A. potentially dominating the NL for years to come, but bringing Votto back and getting to watch him play his last year as a Red would be amazing and the least this crappy ownership can do.

      • Lockersocks79

        Don A. Yonder came up during Vottos 2010 MVP year and was traded after 2011. Do you really think that our best player should have moved to left field to make way for Yonder. Yonder wasn’t a great player.

      • Melvin

        “You and I have watched different Votto’s”

        I believe Votto is an “under the radar” type of person for the most part. I’m sure he’s far from perfect but I’ve heard numerous stories about his big heart.

      • Still a Red

        If you think Votto was bad defensively at 1st base (not the best for sure, but not as bad as many feel), he’d have been horrible in the OF.

    • Thatthathadhad

      He is done and gone. Take a breath and move on. I hope Tony Clark arranges some counseling for the vet. He needs it more than ever.

    • Stephen Proctor

      Exactly. He has already influenced current Reds young players as to hitting. He could be our batting coach, or at least an assistant
      batting coach. I don’t think it would hurt the team that much to have him on the roster, but at least have him in the clubhouse! He can show Elly and Christian, and others, how to be more patient at the plat and not swing at every pitch.

  2. CFD3000

    Nicely said Richard. I’d vote yes.

    • Captain redsleg

      I’d vote yes and I think Joey could still be a “ringer” to be used of the bench, and to be the “Guy” that all players could come too for help with stuff. He is finally fully healthy after that shoulder injury and as we all know votto still bangs….

  3. Tim

    This article will probably spark some serious debate and dissent on RLN but the point is valid. Votto knows baseball and he knows how to teach and set the example. Also, when he was healthy he was hitting HRs at his best rate of his career in 23. And then there’s this…Votto puts butts in seats.

  4. Ghostrunner_onthird

    You had me at Joey. Thank you Richard for saying what I’ve been thinking for several weeks. The prose alone of your message resonates. The price of leadership – not merely in monetary terms – cannot be overstated. There of course will be those that chime in and say his time has passed, that he will take playing time from those who need the development that he himself was afforded nearly two decades ago, and that David Bell will play him to the potential detriment of the team ‘s if not organization’s objectives. I get it that emotion clouds the proverbial analytic argument. I peruse this site daily though I do not chime in often enough. But today is yet another one of those days where leadership should take center stage or at least be a primary driver . . . especially within these current times when we yearn for a voice of reason and an example that we identify with, admire, and hold as a standard bearer. Cheers to you Sir.

    • Greenfield Red

      I appreciate other opinions, but I don’t see it. He’s not productiver, can’t run the bases, or play defense. I don’t see him helping others. I see him promoting himself. Who says: “if some team doesn’t sign me, I’m going to stop returning shopping carts”? That’s joking, but also self promotion. No thanks

      • docmike

        You may not see it, but the article above literally describes him helping others, in this case Will Benson (with his swing). I’m sure there are countless other examples of Joey doing the same thing with other young players as well.

      • Greenfield Red

        docmike you are probably right. But I have seen him around kids, at ST, 3 hours before the game on a practice field, and it wasn’t good.

      • Brian

        He had his chance earlier to resign but he made the comment about the union wouldn’t want him taking a discount to stay here. He has split focus now as he craves the attention from tic tac or whatever platform.

      • DaveCT

        Greenfield, see my comment above, to start.

        Second, This argument doesn’t rest upon Votto’s abilities in the field, so I think it’s not a matter of what he can’t do. It’s about he can do, in the dugout, and how that would run parallel and conceivably undercut the manager, be it of benign or malignant intent. Can you imagine David Bell with Votto over his shoulder? IMO, this would be a colossal debacle.

        This is honestly one of the most nonsensical things I have ever read here.

  5. Frostgiant80

    Bring him back. As a coach. Joey shouldn’t be a player for the same reason Bench, Rose, and Larkin aren’t. The game has passed him by. I would love to have him as the Reds hitting coach though.

  6. Mike

    I’d love to see Joey back with the team in some capacity. His knowledge of hitting and the game in general is invaluable. And he’s a class act. He would be a great hitting coach, and I think he would be a great manager one day. Sign him to a one year deal with the understanding that1 he would have a place in the organization later, either later in the year or next year.

  7. Beaufort Red

    In a non playing capacity yes, as a player no way. It’s almost like you want CES to he a Aquino to prove a point. And if CES doesn’t pan out (which I feel he will), there are numerous options to play 1st. The team already has some tough decisions who makes the roster as it is. The Reds are on the verge of something special and it’s wrapped around youth. Unfortunately there’s a reason Votto hasn’t been signed. He just isn’t that good anymore. I enjoyed Votto in his prime. Unfortunately the longer he hangs on the farther and farther that period seems. Votto waiting for major league teams for a spot is sad. Like I said non playing yes and show he can still make an impact in another capacity and look graceful at the same time.

    • LDS

      I agree with @Beaufort Red. Bring him back in a non-playing capacity. Make him the team ambassador. Or better yet, give him Bell’s job. But playing time will only further erode his HoF case. Recency bias is definitely a real thing.

      • Doc

        Bell’s job would not match with Votto’s strengths. Roving batting coach through the system would.

      • greenmtred

        I think you’re right, Doc. Special Hitting Instructor. If we consider how many young players the Reds have who could benefit from his knowledge of the rigor required to maximize potential…It might be that he could still–injury free–provide useful pop situationally, but I agree with those who point out that there are too few roster spots already.

      • LDS

        I agree with @Doc’s assessment. However, I’m not sure Votto is ready to be in a background role. He’s still at that point where the public attention is part of his identity. That may change over time. If not, then roles like manager, color commentator, etc. would likely satisfy him more than hitting instructor/consultant.

      • greenmtred

        Fair point, LDS. We don’t know what he wants to do.

  8. wkuchad

    I would love to bring Joey back on a 1 year deal in a part time player and mentor role, but the Candelario signing may put an end to any chances of that happening. Barring a trade, there’s no room on the roster to make it happen.

    My preference would have been to bring back Joey and use the Candelario money on pitching. But Candelario does give us protection against our youngster’s sophomore slumps.

  9. docmike

    I assume that Votto is most likely holding out for a regular starting position. It appears as though there are none currently available in MLB, although one could open up due to a spring training injury. But I do agree that there is no place on the Reds for him at this time, except for being a bench player / pinch hitter.

  10. CI3J

    Emotionally, yes, I want Votto back for one last season. It doesn’t sit right with me how the greatest Red of the past few decades ended his career here. He needs a proper “This is Joey Votto’s last season” tour. And more to the point, I think he could still put up a decent WAR to make it worthwhile.

    However, it really doesn’t make sense given the personnel the Reds have now. Whose spot does he take on the roster? Plus, Votto would be exclusively a 1B/DH, while the Reds have players like CES who fill Votto’s role and can also play other positions. The young players need ABs, and every game Votto starts, he’s taking those ABs away.

    1B now will presumably be manned by CES, Steer, and possibly India and Martini, if he makes the team. All of those players can play multiple positions. With the addition of Candelario, I just can’t see a way back for Votto onto this team, even as much as I would like one last waltz with #19.

    • Doc

      I suspect the Reds would have been more than pleased to have had a “Joey’s last year” last year. But Joey didn’t cooperate. He thought he could still play, despite the last 5 years of data. The Reds proved they are about the future, not nostalgia for the past.

      • Brian

        That’s the whole thing, this one doesn’t seem to be on the Reds. Votto should’ve retired last year or negotiated with the Reds to play part time this year at a huge discount instead of the comments he made. He used to be a great player with a big ego and now he’s a diminished player with a big ego. March forward with the youth movement!!!

      • H.B.

        I agree with Doc. Being a part time player at 40 is not that easy. What will the Reds do if he’s hitting 150 after May and then they have to make a tough decision. Without the long contract he would have been gone two years ago. Move on with the youth Joey will be just fine.

  11. scotly50

    I would like him to replace Sadak.

    • m2

      Sadak…seems to be more enthused about video game exploits and fashion than the nuances of baseball beyond an endless regurgitation of statistics. Bland at best – often annoying —Votto egocentric and anything but funny or interesting…I promise you there is far better (Cowboy most certainly)

  12. Stuart Masterson

    Sadly, it is time to move on, time catches up to everyone.

  13. Jimbo44CN

    Would absolutely love to see him come back to finish out his career with the Reds. Maybe as a part time player, but absolutely as a player coach and hitting instructor.

  14. Chris Mo

    Joey V as the roving hitting instructor. He works with Reds players during home games. Reds are at home, he is in Cincy. Reds go on the road, he heads to Dayton or Louisville to work with the minor league team that is home. Works with the young players before and during batting practice. Maybe in the dugout during games to dissect at bats. Maybe he signs autographs and mingles with fans during the games. Combination instructor and team ambassador. He stays connected to the game, brings value to the organization. I as a fan would go to the Dragons game to see Joey V. That is how you help grow better baseball, and add a little fan excitement.

    • Jimmy

      Well said Chris. He has been replaced on the roster by more productive baseball players. But, if he chooses he contribute to the development of players for many years to come.

  15. Brian

    My thing is that I’m pretty sure that the Reds would’ve given Votto 3-5 million to be a part time player but if you remember right, Votto made a comment about the union would be upset if he signed at a discount. That was Joey being greedy and it but him on the butt. He misjudged his demand and now he’s on the outside looking in. Now the Reds should just stick to their youth plan and move on.

    • Doc

      He is already being paid $7MM by the Reds for 2024. He should have offered to play for that, but there is probably some MLBPA rule against that.

      • Brian

        I meant 3-5 over the 7 but I really believe that Votto thought he was gonna get that guaranteed 7 plus another 8-10 from the Reds or someone else.

      • TR

        Last season, at the end of his contract and at age 39/40 (with the last five years injury history) was the time to end his playing career and have a big day to honor Votto. The bottom line is that no other ML team has offered him playing time. I thought further playing time, after last season, would lessen whatever chance Votto has for the HOF. When Joey is ready, if that’s what he wants, a non-playing position in the Red’s organization should be available.

  16. MK

    Lot of bullcrap here. The biggest is don’t consider the money. As long as baseball is a business money is always going to be part of the story. ALWAYS. The only people who think that Votto has a place on a big league roster are obviously no MLB General Manager, but fans who obviously think a guy who has been paid a quarter of a billion dollars is owed something by the people who paid him that salary. I do not begrudge him a cent but understand whether caused by age, injury or combination you are no longer a productive Major League Baseball player.

    • DaveCT

      MK, I could not agree more. This is a publicity stunt. This team does not need a publicity stunt. Especially when so many youngsters are learning how to deal with the publicity they have already. This is one of the poorest ideas I’ve ever seen here.

  17. docproc

    As a coach? Sure. As a player? Absolutely not.

  18. Old Big Ed

    Nice read, but as a practical matter you should identify whom Votto would replace among the 13 position players. As of now, the 13th man is either Barrero or Fairchild, and without one of them, there is no viable backup centerfielder.

    I suppose it isn’t impossible to find a place for Votto, because the Reds have the oddity of excess LH hitters in the outfield and excess RH hitters in the infield. Perhaps a trade of Fraley would open something up, but I don’t see it.

    I doubt that Joey Votto wants a full-time baseball job other than as a player. I suspect that if his career is indeed over, then Votto would want to visit Europe and elsewhere over the summer, because he’s not ever been able to do that.

    I don’t doubt, however, that he could be a huge asset as a part-time consultant/coach, for the purpose of working with Benson, Elly, Marte, Hinds, etc., or that he would enjoy doing that on a limited basis. He might even like to help scout/analyze the players that the Reds are looking at as the second pick in the draft.

    • Richard Fitch

      Exactly why would I attempt to identify who he would replace when I already went to considerable lengths to suggest that injury and player regression, among other things, might make that decision for the Reds?

      I agree that JV wants a full time roster spot, but things have changed now that it appears no organization wants to sign up for that. If he’s dead set on playing 6 days a week, that would be a different story.

      I can almost guarantee you that somebody, likely more than one, will not be ready for Opening Day. We see this every year.

      • Doc

        Doesn’t matter whether he is dead set on playing 6 days a week or willing to play 1 day per city, a roster spot is a roster spot, and in today’s game all spots are premium. The 26 man should be the combination of 26 players who give the best chance to win, especially for a potential division winner. JV is not one of those 26.

      • Optimist

        Doc and OBE have the merits on this one – as a pure roster spot question JV is likely somewhere between 30 and 35. #27 is probably the 3rd catcher playing in AAA, and 28 is either Barrero or Fairchild. 29, and honestly 30 and 31, are pitchers.

        The unlikeliest way to move him up is injuries to 3 of the possible 1bmen. Won’t happen.

        He could still get 150-200 ABs with someone, say the Nats or A’s, maybe the Rockies and perhaps even the Jays. The question then, is, why? What does that accomplish?

        The wildest possible scenario is he takes an MiLB contract, does well enough and stays healthy, and gets a curtain call in Sept. as one of the 2 callups.

      • Old Big Ed

        Votto, if signed today, would be the guy most likely to be injured by opening day.

        And if, say, India isn’t ready to go on March 28, then he would likely be ready within a few weeks. Ditto all others. That would put the Reds in the tough position in late April of deciding whether to DFA Votto.

        So, yeah, if the Reds anticipate having 3 position players who suffer season-ending injuries in the next 4 weeks, then it might make sense to sign Votto.

        Votto slashed .202/.314/.433 last season in 242 PAs. They just signed a minor league deal with Mike Ford, who last season slashed .228/.323/.475 in 251 PAs, while playing home games in MLB’s toughest hitter’s park. Nobody, other than Ford’s wife, wants Ford on the 26-man on Opening Day. While I get the point about Votto’s heft with the young players, (1) there is no way to quantify that (which is not necessarily a negative); and (2) there is little reason to believe that Votto is capable of out-producing even Mike Ford in the things that we can quantify.

        My parade of favorite Reds player has included Frank Robinson, Johnny Bench, Eric Davis, Barry Larkin, Pokey Reese and Joey Votto. They all eventually left the game because they were no longer good enough, just like we fans all did as youths. Baseball’s relentlessness is part of its ethos, which Votto himself understands. Any AB that he would get is one that a younger man would not get. I just don’t think Votto would want that.

      • Greenfield Red

        OBE, I agree with everything you wrote except one thing. Votto wants ABs, and he doesn’t care who he takes them from.. imo.

        Again, my opinion, he wants to play 1st and bat 3rd. It’s all about him… always has been.

      • Old-school

        @OBE

        Thanks for taking this one on and Dave CT for pointing out the distractive nature from a legit young team ready to take on its own identity.

        I would just add hes not one of the best 26 players and its March 1st and hes hanging out in car washes in cold climates… not preparing 6 hours a day hitting fielding running lifting and playing live exhibition games.

        Its literally impossible for him to be ready to play 1 month from now in a 40 yo body coming back from shoulder surgery in a year his shoulder failed him every time he got 4 weeks of the daily grind on it as he huts indoors somewhere

        Marte is the guy who starts in AAA with this fantasy post. Who wants that? No thank you. Marte candelario CES are the corner infield/DH guys and Ill take Jake Fraley at DH over Votto every day and twice on Sunday against righties

        That said- hope he comes back as a Red in a non player role and retires

      • Thatthathadhad

        2019 Votto struck out LOOKING 57 times!

        Let this man retire and spend time with his wife and children. Oh wait..

  19. Jim Delaney

    Reds overpay and signing of Candelario I believe was partially done to end Votto playing in Cincinnati. They wanted to make sure outside pressure wouldn’t be there to resign Votto.
    Also owners are sending Players association message that they need to put in place an opening and closing of season and local TV rights are impacting clubs payroll thresholds….Owners want a December closing to allow for more free agency signings early which will generate media buzz and allow teams to sell tickets and enthusiasm. Players that didn’t sign early are struggling to get deals and not getting anywhere near what they expected.
    Those are two big issues, one MLBPA will need to eventually agree to closing season sometime end December and reopening late January or February 1st. The second issue is one owners first need to deal with and that is how local media rights will be handled going forward so they can present that to MLBPA for next collective bargaining agreement. This will likely lead to a salary floor. Large Market ownership won’t agree to contribute more money to subsidize other owners if they won’t agree to spend to a certain threshold..we shall see how these items play out…

    • VaRedsFan

      So you think giving 15 million to a guy with 64 XBH’s last year is overpaying?

      • Will Henry

        Yes! $15 million is ridiculous. He made $3.5 million last year. Steer, McLain & Friedl had comparable or better numbers than JC last year. Plus, $15 million would get you close to signing a top notch starter.

    • DaveCT

      There is zero evidence Candelario was signed to prevent Volto from returning.

      There is complete evidence that Candelario was signed to fill a (slightly) similar role on the team, while continuing to develop CES and Marte, based on the club’s decision not to pick up Votto’s option.

  20. Ahimsa

    “If a team doesn’t sign me soon, I’m going to stop putting my grocery cart back”.

    -Joey Votto on Instagram

    • Doc

      I am assuming he said that tongue in cheek. I just don’t picture JV in the class of people near my Walmart who care so little about their fellow human beings that they won’t walk 50 feet to put a cart in the corral.

      • Ahimsa

        It was tongue in cheek.

        Votto humor. I thought it was funny.

  21. redfanorbust

    Nice article. I am a big JV fan. His career numbers speak for themselves. His
    experience and personality would lend nicely to a coaching job or in the broadcast booth. However must side with what seems to be the majority here and agree his playing days are over with this team as it is constructed now. I am skeptical that he will get a job with another team with any serious playing time. It’s sad that now that the Reds are finally looking like a contending team he has gotten too old. He chose a no trade clause with a team that for the longest time was mediocre at best. He also chose to not want to be traded always stating he would invoke his no trade clause if/when Reds tried to trade him. I know he wanted to win but he seemed to value comfort and familiarity over seriously contending with a team that was most of the time in the hunt for a playoff berth or WS contender, much to the Reds fans delight of course.
    Obviously time will tell what ends up happening. Hopefully his clear love of Cincinnati will ultimately lead him back here as the aforementioned coach or broadcaster but whatever he chooses I wish him good health, happiness and a long life.

  22. MBS

    Just look at his year to year numbers they started going downward in 2018. Solid year for a lot of guys, but not for JV. 19 bad. 20 bad. 21 JV found the long ball. 22 bad. 23 bad.

    No age always wins guys, fans need to realize it, and JV needs to realize it.

    I would love him to join the TV crew. I wouldn’t think he’s going to do anything like that this year, but it would be great if he did that in the future.

  23. redfanorbust

    Funny this article just came up. 🙂
    blogredmachine.com/posts/bleacher-report-contract-projection-proves-reds-were-right-let-joey-votto-walk

  24. Darrin

    A broken Votto put @750 ops up at age 39, still above average.

    • SR

      I agree on his OPS. That said, Bell is going to play him if he has him. And he can really only DH him or worse play him at first places were we already have too few at bats for too many people. One last, overlooked issue. Joey starts off slow, even in his peak years he often went sub .200 BA and heavy SO numbers. Sometimes until June. In his twilight years, not playing every day, how long, if ever, until he finds his way. Every subscriber on this site want the reds to go to the playoffs. Joey hurts these chances if he is rostered as a player, regardless of injuries.

  25. Vada

    Bring Bottom Back? Give me a break !!!

    If he would make a good batting coach it would have manifested itself with poor performing players the past 3-4 years.

    Votto wouldn’t even make a good coach in little league.

    I have a better idea. Let’s FORGET Votto and focus on the upcoming super stars from the Minors.

    Votto’s best bet to get back into baseball is if he learns to speak Japanese and head to Japan.

    So, can we please move on to ANY subject other than Votto.

    • Frankie Tomatoes

      “Bring Bottom Back” is a hilarious autocorrect.

    • greenmtred

      How would that have manifested itself? Better performance? For all you know, what we were seeing was the better performance and they would have been worse if not for Votto. More likely, he worked with guys who approached him. And, besides, there’s only so much a coach–any coach–can do.

      • Greenfield Red

        My family and I soured on him in 2015 (OR 2016?) when he ignored a small group of kids (maybe 15 or 20) at ST, the only player (with 3 coaches), on the little infield only diamond taking ground balls. It was 3 hours before the game. Several of the kids were wearing JV jersies, including my 8 year old. In 45 minutes he never looked up at those kids. No tip of the cap. No “sorry, I don’t have time to talk today, but thanks for coming out”. Nothing. He just slipped out through the dugout which was behind a second fence, and in doing so ignored the very people he’s now patronizing.

        Sad or not, when you seek that kind of spotlight, you have to deliver at least a tip of your cap EVERYTIME, or fans will turn on you as we did.

      • Greenfield Red

        Meant as a reply to Amarillo below… sorry.

      • greenmtred

        I can understand why that incident was upsetting and tarnished your view of him, Greenfield Red. I can only say that JV, as a human being, can make mistakes, just as every other human can and does. We do know that he has a specific pregame regimen, so maybe the timing was bad. Or maybe he was just having a crappy day and was unable to muster the resources to be kind right then. It sucked for you and the kids, certainly, but we don’t know what else was going on and we do know that he has frequently related to and interacted with fans, adult and children alike.

    • Jimbo44CN

      Would not make a good coach in Little league? Where do you come up with that kind of crap, and how in the world would you know. No respect for a guy who may not deserve to play every day any more but certainly deserves respect for what he has done for the city and the team. I have more words but would get bumped by Doug.

    • Richard D Fitch

      “My family and I soured on him in 2015 (OR 2016?) when he ignored a small group of kids (maybe 15 or 20) at ST, the only player (with 3 coaches), on the little infield only diamond taking ground balls. It was 3 hours before the game.”

      This explains so much. I get it. Your 8 year old kid didn’t get the respect you think he deserved and now everything Votto does is up for ridicule.

      Then this from Vada: Votto wouldn’t even make a good coach in little league.

      Grow up people. Jeebus.

      • Beaufort Red

        100% agree with Greenfield Red. Never wanted to bring this up but Votto has been an arse until he wasn’t a star anymore. Been going to Spring Training since Votto came up and he would never give autographs to kids. Several players would say “ good luck” when it came to getting him to sign. So as a ballplayer I enjoyed him, as a person meh.

      • Greenfield Red

        This entire story is about giving extra chances to a 40 year old man who is begging and refuses to give it up. My son was 8 yearss old and cried his eyes out. I’ll defend my wife and children to my last breath. They don’t get extra chances.

        He is 17 now and no longer cares much about baseball. He did,however, very proudly show his customized 4256 ball to his Algebra 2 teacher, who lives in our neighborhood, the other night.

      • greenmtred

        Ted Williams and Stan Musial didn’t generally give autographs, either. I seem to recall reading that Musial–known to be a real gentleman and good guy–didn’t approve of idolatry and worried about little kids getting trampled. We don’t know why JV doesn’t give autographs, but it may be a similar reason. And it has nothing to do with his ability as a player or his possibilities as a coach and mentor.

    • Thatthathadhad

      Yakult Swallows might be interested in JV

  26. JohnnySofa

    Gotta say, as a persuasive story this is well-written. But then I remember the cringe I felt when JV was activated last summer, knowing he’d be in Bell’s lineup more often than not. Gotta put the OPS and sentimentalities aside … anyone watching had to wince when he was at the plate or in the field. The fact he’s still available heading into March tells us what 30 out of 30 GMs think.

  27. Amarillo

    Seeing several disrespectful comments makes me sad.

    Obviously there isn’t currently an available roster spot, but injuries are ubiquitous and I’d rather have Votto over Josh Harrison or whomever is behind Harrison. Why not call him mid-season if we are in need of a replacement?

  28. Mark Moore

    Back on a one homestand weekend player contract? I’d be in favor of that approach. Then whatever role works for everyone is fine. But it isn’t as a player. It probably isn’t as a staff coach either (on the fence about that one).

    I would be concerned how our Mr. HDTBell would handle having such a veteran presence on the 26-man. My recollection of history says we may not like that outcome.

    I don’t deny injuries could (or will) play a part in the mix. I’m just not certain he is still capable of playing at that level anymore. May not be a popular opinion, but that’s all it is in the end … my opinion.

    Joey over Sadak in the TV booth? I’m all in on that.

    Also, I don’t entirely buy into the “veteran leadership and guidance” theory either. In today’s game, I don’t think it happens to the degree it did in the past. I think back to the age of closed-door, players only meetings and “kangaroo court”. Haven’t heard about that in a very long time. Again, maybe I’m wrong on that front as well.

    I’m more than a little sad to see what is happening. He’s a great player, but his sun is setting (or has set).

    • greenmtred

      Apparently it happens on airplanes, though. When I think about it, I’ve often seen him in the dugout talking to guys who batted that inning. Aside from Benson’s testimony (and I think Jay Bruce and Zach Cozart said he was helpful to them), we don’t know how much informal coaching he’s done. What we do know is that he’s a student of hitting and has the credentials. Maybe, as LDS says above, he isn’t ready for a role out of the limelight and this is a moot point.

      • Mark Moore

        Fair points. I was speaking more in general about the effect of veteran players in today’s game. And it’s all just my opinion based on observation.

        Him not being ready for that likely plays a major role in what’s going through his mind.

    • Jon

      Joey over Barry would be even better…

  29. Kevin Patrick

    I speculate that the only way Votto makes sense for the Reds this year is if …1) Joey’s healthy 2) Reds trade Strand and Marte for starting controllable pitcher. 3) Fraley or Benson are injured this spring and expected to miss at least 1/3 of the season. The thing is…it really is possible all those things could happen.

    • greenmtred

      That trade may be possible, but it seems too ill-considered to be likely.

  30. Suqmadiq

    He was injured last couple years and was still belting hume runs. Bring him back I think he will be an asset later in the year.

  31. Oldtimer

    Good read. OTD in 1972, Hank Aaron signed 3 year contract worth $200K per. Highest $ contract ever signed up to that point. His best days were WAY behind him but he deserved to be rewarded for his career.

    I hope the Reds can find a role for him (1B and DH) plus unofficial coach.

  32. 2020ball

    Gotdang so many of you are so negative. Apparently y’all know Joey Votto better than himself….sheesh

      • 2020ball

        I’ll be the one to say it, your story just sounds so needy and feeling entitled to something. He can’t be there for every fan every time, let it go and let a man do his job. I’m aware you’ll hate to hear that.

      • Beaufort Red

        2020 ball read my response above. Several personnel at the Reds HOF said the same. Not being a Votto hugger doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

    • DaveCT

      For me, it’s less negativity than it is not wanting to deal with a publicity stunt for the season.

      • 2020ball

        Opining about not wanting him back for whatever reason is fine, there a silly amount of assumptive stuff past that here though.

  33. Pete

    My only comment is I am happy that Nick Krall is making the decisions.

  34. Melvin

    As I’ve said before if he thinks he can still play and is willing send him to AAA with a non 40 man roster spot. Let him prove how good he still is down there. If he’s very good then the Reds can find a place for him in some role if they really are in it to win this year (and they should be). If he somehow turns in to the Votto of old I don’t care how much playing time he gets. I care about winning. If he can’t do really well in AAA that should show him it’s time to “hang it up”. The Reds take chances on players bouncing back all the time. Why not take a chance on him? Win Win Win

      • greenmtred

        +10000000, Melvin. Some might accuse me of grade inflation, but don’t listen to them.

      • Melvin

        Now I’m REALLY choked up. sniff sniff

    • CFD3000

      Agree. I’ve been on board with this approach since the end of last season. There’s no way to know how much of the downturn the last two years was age and how much injury and recovery. The Reds probably can’t afford to find out the answers to that question with an MLB roster spot, but I think they could with a AAA slot. Find out if he’s healthy, and if he can produce like 2021 Votto, or if he struggles like 2023 Votto. I’m not sure why the Reds wouldn’t be interested in that approach. And now that it’s March and he doesn’t have a major league job, perhaps Votto would be too. Very low downside. I’d vote yes.

  35. Tom Reeves

    Several years back my wife and I splurged for diamond seats. And we were a couple rows back on the Reds’ side of home plate. During the National Anthem, we noticed a teenage boy who didn’t stand for the anthem. Being judgey, we kinda smirked. But it later became apparent the young man, who was with his mother, was significantly special needs.

    During the game, which was close, Joey was warming up. But he very quietly motioned for the mom to bring the young man down to the netting and Votto quickly and quietly posed for a pic with him. I got to take the pic. The boy was ecstatic. Then Joey went back to warming up – then, Vottoequesly, laced a double.

    Joey wasn’t looking for attention and did everything he could to make the whole thing low-key.

    I had always heard the stories about the aloof Votto but what I saw that day was different than what I expected.

    I think Votto is a very introverted person who has struggled to fit in. I think he’s kinda the nerd who made it in professional sports. I think he struggles to relate to people at times but started to come out of his weird shell later in his career.

    I’m glad I got to see his amazing career. And as a fellow nerd, I’m proud he’s a nerd who outthought baseball. And I’ll never forget what his simple act in the middle of a game that meant so much to a young man facing a lot of challenges.

    So if the Reds sign him for a last season, I won’t complain. Heck, it might just be worth it if there’s one more Will Benson he can help or one more kid he can pose with.

    • Richard D Fitch

      Well said, Tom.

      Occasionally, reason appears here.

      • Tom Reeves

        Thank you! I hope the comments can be more positive. There was a blog I used to read and comment on and it got so toxic (which the writers encouraged) the blog basically died. I hope that doesn’t happen here.

      • DaveCT

        Anecdotes aren’t reason, Richard. They are stories. Personal experiences.

        Reason is that Votto may/may not be helpful to the team this season.

    • CFD3000

      Thanks for sharing that small bit of positivity in the face of so much speculative negativity Tom.

  36. Justin T

    I respect JV as a player but not sure he was ever going to be what most fans wanted him to be. The team invested so much into him but he is what he is. He was never going to be that prototypical franchise player. Whenever a big personality came along he would gladly move over and let them lead with their personality. He never seemed comfortable in that role. He is Canadian and we forget sometimes (because they are so close in geography) that they have a different culture and customs. Not everyone patronizes like many of us Americans, I never held that against him. I think he was naturally a little aloof at times. Seeing him in the viking helmet was cringey (after the first time) last year to me. I will never be that impressed by a multi millionaire athlete spending extra time w kids/fans, thats almost part of their civic duty in my opinion. The tiniest bit of effort can change a kids whole world.

    On the flip side, I think he is the type of guy that could fix a swing in 10 minutes because he understands hitting that much. He understands the nuances and rhythm of hitting. Rather or not he would wanna do that is another question. I have the benefit of hindsight but I think his big contract is a big reason why the Reds are where they are (late/middle of a rebuild). As far as coming back as a player? Not as long as we have the manager we have. He simply couldnt help himself.

  37. Scott Burns

    I am so looking forward to seeing the young Reds flying high this year. Could be a very special year.

    I have no desire to see Joey Votto in this team. I do hope he catches on in Toronto of some other place. Just not Cincy.

  38. Chad A Donnell

    Consider yours truly a HARD NO on bringing him back. 30 other teams agree and some have a need much greater than ours. The dude short circuits mentally. In denial about no more baseball right now.

    • Jimbo44CN

      He was kidding Chad. Good lord .