Joey Votto is no longer a Cincinnati Red. Even two weeks later, it feels weird to type.
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In an era where there are seemingly two to three farewell tours every year, Votto unceremoniously had his option declined by the only major organization he’s ever played for.
Reds GM Nick Krall may think Votto is just a “Hall of Very Good” player, declining the option of a Midwest ball player from his ivory tower, but he should be ashamed of himself.
I realize Votto isn’t a sure-fire Hall of Famer like Miguel Cabrera or Albert Pujols, but he deserved better than a press release. He’s one of the best players in franchise history and certainly the Reds’ best of the 21st century. Freddie Freeman got to cry and take a few laps just because he changed teams during free agency.
And this isn’t the end of Votto’s career — at least he hasn’t given any indication that he’s going to retire – but it’s in all likelihood the end of his illustrious Reds career. He finishes his tenure sixth in games played, fifth in hits, second in OPS, second in doubles, second in home runs, first in OBP, and first in walks for one of the oldest franchises in baseball.
Krall claims the reason for declining the option is that they don’t project enough playing time for Votto. First of all, you don’t keep Votto because he’s going to play a lot. You do it for the vibes. And because, to some degree, at 40, he’s still got it. His 14 home runs in just 65 games illustrated as much.
Plenty of other players hanging on as locker-room presences would love to put up the stats Votto did this past season. Cabrera totaled just 65 home runs (and one retirement All-Star game appearance even though he wasn’t retiring) over the last seven years of his career, but you better believe the Tigers were going to do whatever it took to have him on the team so that the opposing manager at every ballpark they visited could gift him a Ferrari made out of taxidermied bald eagles.
And again, I realize they aren’t the same circumstances. Cabrera is the far more decorated player and the Reds, unlike the Tigers, have a future. They just pulled off the fastest rebuild in recent memory, going from a 3-22 start in 2022, to a playoff contender and one of the most exciting teams in the league by the middle of 2023.
The Reds are loaded with young, talented position players and if they can figure out how to keep their opponents under 10 runs per game, they’re going to be a problem for a while. But that’s all the more reason Votto should been kept on the team. He’s been to the playoffs four times in his career and deserved the chance at one more with the same team.
Shame on Nick Krall and the whole Cincinnati organization. This isn’t how you treat someone who has given your franchise as much as Joey Votto has.