The 2023 season should be Joey Votto's swan song in a Cincinnati Reds uniform

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto.
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto. / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages

Joey Votto strongly hinted during the Field of Dreams game that he might want to play several more years. But with his declining performance in 2022, the Cincinnati Reds have several younger options that would all be much less expensive.

If Votto wants to stay with the Reds beyond 2023, he will need a bounce-back year similar to what he produced in 2021. Votto will never resurrect the MVP-type performance fans saw in 2017, but a repeat of his 2021 season that saw the then-38 year-old hit 36 home runs would be just fine.

Although 2023 is the final guaranteed year of Votto’s contract, there is a $20M team option for the 2024 season. However, the Reds likely have little interest or desire to exercise the option. This makes it very likely that next season will be Votto's last in a Cincinnati Reds uniform.

The 2023 season should be Joey Votto's last in a Reds uniform.

The Cincinnati Reds pipeline is full of prospects who will need places to play. While very few are actually first basemen by trade, Joey Votto's absence from the Reds lineup this season has shown that David Bell has several players who can play first base.

As harsh as it sounds, Votto has spent 16 major league seasons in the Reds organization and the team has yet to even win a playoff series . Many of those years, the front office and ownership failed to field a competitive team. But even when they did, Cincinnati was unable to make it count.

The big unknown for the front office and ownership is how much backlash they're willing to take if the decision is made to part ways with Votto. This will be especially interesting to watch after seeing the fallout following the decision to trade fan favorites like Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez, and Tucker Barnhart.

If Votto wants to play beyond next season, he'll surely want to do so in Cincinnati. But will the club want to keep him? If the team truly has no intention of keeping Votto in the Queen City, a conversation between the two parties needs to be had before the 2023 season begins.

Joey Votto can make the 2023 season his swan song with the Cincinnati Reds. If not, there will likely be an ugly breakup after the season that will alienate all the fanbase and leave a bad taste in the mouths of Reds Country.

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