This season marks the final guaranteed year of Joey Votto's 10-year contract extension with the Cincinnati Reds that he signed back in 2012. Votto's current deal includes a $20-million club-option for 2024 with a $7-million buyout.
There is every reason to believe that Cincinnati will not exercise the option and instead pay Votto the $7 million. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that this Sunday at Great American Ball Park will be Votto's final home game in a Reds uniform. But it could be.
Anyone who wants to criticize Votto is welcome to do so, but even his harshest critics have to acknowledge that he's been the one of the very best players to ever don a Cincinnati Reds uniform. Will Sunday be Votto's last home game with the Reds?
Sunday will be Joey Votto's last home game with the Reds if he doesn't want to accept a part-time role.
This, more than anything else, could be the reason why Sunday is Joey Votto's last home game in a Cincinnati Reds uniform. Votto has already seen his playing time take hit this season. Does he have it in him to be a part-time player in 2024?
It's essentially the Miguel Cabrera or Albert Pujols question, right? Miggy has appeared in less than 100 games this season and Pujols had just over 300 at-bats in 2022. Votto might not be able to accept that type of role for a second consecutive season.
Votto's been a good soldier this year, ceding playing time to the likes of Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Spencer Steer at first base. This past month has seen Votto ride the bench even more with Jake Fraley essentially operating on one foot while occupying the DH spot.
But Joey Votto accepted his role this season based on how well the team was playing and where he fit upon his return from injury. Would a fully healthy Votto, who spent all offseason continuing to get his body right for the 2024 season, be able to accept being used strictly as a designated hitter, and maybe even sitting for two or three games in a row?
Votto is a competitor, and he's never one who's wanted to be pitied. If Votto is unable to accept the fact that he'd be an everyday DH at best, and possibly even a platoon bat, Sunday may be his last home game in a Reds uniform.