Now former Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto has signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays that includes an invite to big league spring training. After spending more than two decades as a Red from the time he was drafted back in the second round of the 2002 Major League Baseball draft until the end of the 2023 season, Votto will now officially be a player for another organization.

The deal for Votto is for $2,000,000 if he makes the team. He can also make another $2,000,000 in incentives according to MLB.com reporter Keegan Matheson.

Votto, who signed a long term extension with Cincinnati that kept him a Reds player through at least 2023, saw the club decline his option following the year and instead of paying him $20,000,000 to return to the club they paid him $7,000,000 to leave.

A league average hitter in 2023 (his .747 OPS translated to a 99 OPS+), Votto had troubles finding a job this past offseason. While he’s still gotten on base enough, and he’s had just enough power the last two seasons while dealing with a shoulder injury and then the recovery from surgery to repair his shoulder and biceps injury, he’s struggled to hit for average – hitting .205 and .202 in the last two seasons.

Understandable given that he was playing with a busted rotator cuff and a torn biceps muscle in 2022 and coming off of the surgery in 2023. Still, Votto is now 40-years-old and is coming off of back-to-back subpar years for a first baseman and an injury. While he has made sure to publicly state over and over again that the injury isn’t an excuse, we can all be real here and say that yeah it was, Joey. Teams, though, are also going to see a 40-year-old who’s struggled a bit in the last few seasons – injury or not.

For Votto, after spending all winter seeking a job, he’s settled for an opportunity rather than a guarantee. Taking a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays – his hometown team – gives him an opportunity to get on the field over the next few weeks and show what he’s got as he’s further out from the surgery and rehab process.

It would be nice to see Joey Votto get another opportunity in the big leagues after the way that his 2023 season came to an end. In his final game as a Cincinnati Red he was ejected for arguing balls and strikes following his first plate appearance in the final game of the year. It was also the first plate appearance he had in nearly a week. That’s not how you want a legend to end his big league career.

55 Responses

  1. Chad A Donnell

    Good for Joey. He might play in about 70-90 games and hit about .242. with 15 HR and 39 RBI’s

    • Oldtimer

      If healthy, he might play in 2X as many games, 2X as many HR, and get 2X as many RBI. He might have a higher BA too.

      Where did you get those lowball numbers? Votto deserves better treatment than that.

      • H.B.

        He hit 205 and 202 the last two year.

      • Beaufort Red

        And he might might not make the roster at all.

      • Oldtimer

        He wasn’t healthy the last two years. He was 99 OPS+ last year with a bad shoulder. Ever try hitting with a bad shoulder?

      • Colorado Red

        Or, a lot more losses for the Reds.
        Get over it, old man time, has won.
        Joey’s career s over.
        Time for CES

  2. Brian

    Congratulations to Votto. I’m guessing that he would’ve been a Red this year at 3-5 million if he would have accepted the 26th spot. I think that Votto’s ego is the only reason that didn’t happen. Hopefully the players union will be ok with his pay on the minor league with invite contract. ?
    I do hope he crushes it and makes the team, definitely an all time Red.

    • Doc

      He already has $7MM of the Reds money for this 2024 year. He didn’t need another $3-5MM. He could have offered to play for the $7MM.

      I’m of the opinion, looking at his last five years, that Chad’s estimates are too generous. If he gets 70-90 games with the Blue Jays, the Jays will not be going anywhere in 2024.

      • Brian

        Doc, it’s probably against rules to take a buyout and then play for nothing. I’m guessing that has never happened. He wasn’t going to negotiate to play for what he was already owed regardless of playing. The Reds more than likely would’ve given him that 3 on top of the 7 but I don’t think that Votto was having any of it judging by his comment.

      • Doug Gray

        It’s definitely against the rules.

      • Oldtimer

        He. Was. Not. Healthy. The. Past. Two. Years.

        How hard is that to comprehend?

        As a bench (P/T) player with a bad shoulder in 2023, he hit 14 HR with 38 RBI and 99 OPS+ in 65 games.

      • Brian

        Hey oldtimer, everyone knows that he was injured. He’s also now 2 years older and nobody knows if he’s healthy or not. I’m not sure if you’re advocating for Votto or what your point is.

  3. LDS

    Best of luck to him. I would rather he had retired, but I guess he’s not ready to face reality. Maybe he makes the team. But, I’m not going to bet on that.

  4. sultanofswaff

    Best of luck to Joey! He has his work cut out for him given that we are halfway through spring training and he’s a notoriously slow starter. That said, I like his chances of beating out Vogelbach for the job, as he’s exclusively a DH.

  5. CI3J

    Good for him. After years of speculation, Joey Votto is FINALLY going to suit up for the Toronto Blue Jays.

    I still want the Reds to give him a proper send off, though. If things don’t work out in Toronto, maybe he can sign a 1-day contract with the Reds in September and we can have our Joey Votto Day on the last day of the season? Let him hit and play 1B for the entire game, and hopefully he won’t get ejected this time.

    This is assuming the Reds already have a playoff spot locked up.

    • Colorado Red

      then who do the Reds DFA for that?
      Give him a coaching job.
      Might be really good at that.

  6. Mauired

    I didn’t see a minor league deal coming. I don’t ever recall seeing any potential hall of famer sign one.

    If that’s all Votto was asking for I don’t understand why Reds didn’t give that to him. Very small commitment, and who knows maybe he’s healthy again and has more to contribute.

    • JayTheRed

      Please remember the Reds are paying him 7 million not to play for them this season instead of 20 million to play for the Reds.

      7+2+maybe another 2 million that’s possibly 11 million. Not bad for a 40 year old.

    • Beaufort Red

      Votto said everyday player was the deal. I guess a dose of reality changes one’s point of view. If he doesn’t make the roster, has there ever been a HOF player that ended his career in the minors? I hope he retires if he doesn’t make the roster .

      • Mauired

        I’ve seen a lot of posts saying it’s everyday or nothing for Votto. But when did he say that? I’ve just seen him say he wants to play for another couple years. Which could mean part time.

      • Matt WI

        Maui… as the season was winding down, Votto was taking more of a stance of wanting full time status if he were to stay. Understandable starting point, but that has obviously changed in the face of the quiet void he experienced this off season.

      • gfieldredsfan

        Ricky Henderson ended his career playing 2 seasons of independent ball.

  7. old-school

    $2 million salary IF he makes the team and another $2 million in incentives.

  8. MBS

    I hope it works out for JV in TOR. That’s could be a fun way to end a great career.

  9. JayTheRed

    I’ll get to watch him play for my 2nd favorite team!! Yay!!! Hopefully he makes the team.

  10. Rob

    Thank you, Lord. Joey Votto has signed.

    The long nightmare is over — not for Votto, but for me, a lifelong Reds fan who has had to endure one Votto news article after another after another this spring.

    As I write this, the Enquirer Reds page is posting 13 stories, six of which are about a former Red — Votto. Every move he makes, every breath he takes, every tweet he makes, they are watching — and writing about — him.

    Granted, I didn’t have to read those stories, and, in fact, I didn’t. But for every story about Votto not being signed or — now — signed, there was one less story about the young, exciting, and promising 2024 Reds.

    Best wishes and good luck in Canada, Joey. That is one border crossing I am completely in favor of.

    • Doug Gray

      Rob, let me be the one to tell you that no, every one of those stories isn’t preventing a single story about the young, exciting, and promising 2024 Reds from being written. The stories that you reference and never read were pure TMZ garbage along the lines of “Joey Votto posted a video on instagram with a shopping cart” written by some dude who only writes pure TMZ garbage like that. It’s an absolute shame that the only paper in town does that kind of stuff, but they do.

      • Rob

        Doug, every one of the six stories I referenced has the byline of someone who’s supposed to be an Enquirer writer: three by Dave Clark, one by David Wysong, one by Wysong and Haadiza Ogwude, and one by Wysong and Charlie Goldsmith.

        They may not be preventing stories being written about the 2024 Reds, but the shear multitude of the postings leaves the impression that, in the mind of the editor, Votto’s plight is the single biggest Reds story of the spring — and he’s not even a Red!

  11. Jim

    I also hope he does well there. NOW I hope this post starts discussing the Cincinnati Reds instead arguing about JV. The last several years we were at the bottom of a not so good division. It is time for a change!

  12. David

    If you look on the next comment thread, you will find that Noelvi Marte has been suspended for 80 games for using a banned steroid supplement.
    Gee, that would have opened a roster spot for…Joey. 😉

    I like Joey Votto a lot, but I have my doubts about him “making” the Blue Jays 26 man roster. I think this was a courtesy and a compliment to Joey and his career, giving him a chance to play in his home town. I don’t think it is going anywhere.

    • Matt WI

      Whoa. And all of a sudden the Candelario and India signings matter a bit more.

      • Harry Stoner

        And even moreso, the NOT trading of CES for a “controlable innings nibbler”.

        I don’t think we’re going to see much of India for awhile and I’m not holding out for a huge amount of production from Candelario.

        My guess is we’re going to be seeing a lot of Kemp or Harrison.

  13. Melvin

    Too bad the Reds couldn’t have done the same thing for him.

  14. Lars

    “My guess is we’re going to be seeing a lot of Kemp or Harrison.”

    This is my worst fear.

  15. Lars

    No wait…..it could be worse…”we’re going to be seeing a lot of Kemp AND Harrison”

    • Melvin

      I would hope that if there are three spots open they would go to Barrero, Fairchild, and Martini.

  16. Greenfield Red

    I really need to know if he will now continue to stow his Walmart shopping carts correctly. I won’t be able to sleep until he confirms his goodness as a hunan being on social media.

    • Brian

      It depends on if he makes the team before we will know if he’s done pouting.

  17. Grover

    Happy he is being given a shot and would be beyond happy if the shows he is healthy and still can hit. Needed some good news to go with the Marte bummer.

    • Melvin

      Yeah. I’d say Martinez is the best good news tonight so far. 🙂

    • WVRedsFan

      I think the Reds missed the boat here. Signing Joey for the same deal would have been a no-brainer in my opinion. If anything, the jersey sales alone would have made up for that signing. So in a lot of ways it would have been low risk/high reward. If Joey could have come in and been primarily a DH with a spot start here and there at 1st base it could have been a good signing. Especially now that it seems Candelario will play 3rd base for the foreseeable future with the news we got on Marte. If healthy, I think Joey could still hit in the 260 range and belt 20hr’s while providing great clubhouse leadership. Likely a big mistake by the Reds to not sign him to a similar deal.

      • Melvin

        “I think the Reds missed the boat here. Signing Joey for the same deal would have been a no-brainer in my opinion.”

        Yeah

  18. CFD3000

    I’m impressed, and not in a good way, by the Votto negativity here. You guys fan however you like I guess. Votto is an imperfect human whose job has never been to please everybody all the time. Shocker that he failed to do so at times. He’s also a future Hall of Famer and a Reds legend. More importantly, he’s someone who wants to compete and contribute enough that he’s spent nearly two years to get back to healthy enough to fight Father Time and find out if he can play well. Of course he was looking for a major league deal – I sure as heck would have. But it wasn’t out there so he’s willing to earn a spot from the minors. I respect that. And for the record, I advocated for a similar deal from the Reds – show you deserve it and earn a spot. I understand why that didn’t fit the Reds 2024 plans and I’m super excited to watch and root for this young team. And now I’ll also be watching and rooting for an old Joey Votto to get healthy and contribute again. Good luck in Toronto Mr. Votto.

    • Brian

      I never see fans that dislike Votto. Everyone knows that he was an amazing hitter… everyone. The “negativity” is simply people that say that Votto isn’t owed anything or that it’s time to move on because of Votto’s age, injuries and performance. It’s not disrespecting his amazing accomplishments.

      The problem is that some fans believe that if you don’t continue to massage everything Votto that you’re being negative. Nobody is being negative. Some people honestly assess things and others seem too worried about feelings to be honest.

      • Oldtimer

        Arguably the best Reds in my lifetime (born 1951) are Robinson, #14, Bench, Morgan, Perez, Concepcion, Pinson, Votto, Larkin, Davis, Griffey (Jr) ,and Foster. Add Rijo and Maloney to make it 14.

        Bench got a JB Day at Riverfront. I suppose Larkin did (nor sure) but I don’t remember any of the others getting a day just for them. Exactly three of those players were Reds their entire careers. Most were traded or let go in free agency with gas left in the tank.

      • Brian

        Oldtimer, 14 players and you left number 14 off of your list?

      • LWBlogger

        “#14” is #14 Rose, I’m sure.

  19. Oldtimer

    Some of the best Reds in my lifetime (born 1951) as age 40.

    #14 hit .325 BA and led NL with 140 H. All-Star. 119 OPS+ three more MLB seasons

    Larkin hit .289 BA All-Star. 101 OPS+ last season in MLB

    Robinson hit .224 BA 104 OPS+ last season in MLB

    Morgan hit .244 BA 104 OPS* last season in MLB

    Bench DNP Vada DNP Foster DNP Davis DNP none playoff MLB at 40

    Perez hit .260 BA 105 OPS+ four more MLB seasons

    Concepcion hit .198 BA 45 OPS+ last season in MLB

    • Oldtimer

      Corrections. #14 played five more MLB seasons. None of the DNP played (not playoff) at age 40. Morgan OPS+ not OPS* (need edit function).

  20. Jeremiah

    I hope Votto makes it to the Jays MLB team and does great. Kind of crazy he could only get a minor league deal. He probably miscalculated everything…if he came out early and let teams know he wasn’t seeking any specific role, amount of at-bats, didn’t care anything about salary, I think someone may have given him a MLB deal. But he must really want to play taking a minor league deal. We’ll see what happens.

  21. Still a Red

    $2 if he makes the team. What if he doesn’t make the team out of ST? Is he willing to start the season in the minors? Given his typically slow start to a season, I don’t have high hopes for him making the team out of ST, unless the Jays are willing to place a bet on him. If he does start in the minors, does he get $0.