5 Reds players, not named Joey Votto, who might not be back in 2024

Joey Votto may not be the only Reds player who will not return in 2024.

Cincinnati Reds infielder Jonathan India
Cincinnati Reds infielder Jonathan India / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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Fans may well have witnessed Joey Votto's final game as a member of the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday after the former MVP was ejected after the first inning in St. Louis. Votto is in the final guaranteed year of the 10-year contract extension he signed back in 2012.

But Votto might not be the only significant player who won't be back on the Cincinnati Reds roster in 2024. Believe it or not, there are a number of players who may not be wearing a wishbone "C" on their ball caps on Opening Day next season.

The Reds will have some interesting decisions to make during the offseason. Some will be much easier than others. Which five players, not named Joey Votto, might not be back next season.

1. Reds pitcher Connor Overton might not be back in 2024.

With so much young talent coming up through the pitching ranks, it's difficult to see the Cincinnati Reds hanging onto Connor Overton. This is especially true considering that the 30-year-old will be attempting to return from Tommy John surgery. Overton won't even be back on to the mound until next spring.

Overton was a feel good story in 2022 after bursting onto the scene as a 29-year-old rookie. But the right-hander was only able to muster four start before hitting the IL with a back injury that would keep him out of action until the final couple weeks of the season.

Overton beat out several young pitchers during spring training for a spot in the starting rotation, including the likes of Levi Stoudt and Brandon Williamson.

But Overton quickly showed that he wasn't up to the task of taking the ball every fifth day. Overton made three starts and posted an ERA of 11.45 while walking nearly 13-percent of the batters he faced.

The Cincinnati Reds are going to need Connor Overton's roster spot this offseason; whether it's used to add a top prospect or free agent, who knows? But the Reds are unlikely to keep Overton on the 40-man roster. Cincinnati could non-tender Overton this offseason and re-sign him on the minor league deal.

2. Reds catcher Curt Casali might not be back in 2024.

This seems all but academic at this point, doesn't it? The Cincinnati Reds signed Curt Casali to be part of their catching trio in 2023. Having spend the past two seasons with the San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners, it was nice to see Casali back behind the plate for the Reds.

But Casali had been absent from the Reds lineup for the better part of two months. At one point, Casali began a rehab assignment in Triple-A, but suffered a setback of some sort and very little has been said since.

Heading into 2024, it's hard to see the Cincinnati Reds going forward with three catchers on the Opening Day roster once again. While manager David Bell was certainly able to find ways to make it work, there's no doubt that it made things more difficult that it needed to be.

Having Casali on the roster in 2023 allowed the Cincinnati coaches to see if Tyler Stephenson was able to take the beating of being the Reds everyday catcher. Stephenson has started over 75 games behind the plate and accounted for more than 700 innings as the team's backstop.

While having Stephenson behind the plate for less than 50-percent of the Cincinnati Reds' games in 2023 is not ideal, it's difficult to see the organization picking up Curt Casali's $2.5-million mutual option for next season.

3. Reds infielder Jonathan India might not be back in 2024.

Now we're getting somewhere. Jonathan India's name has been mentioned as a possible trade candidate since this past trade deadline. There are reasons to believe that Cincinnati may actually look to trade the former NL Rookie of the Year, and there are reasons to believe he'll stay put.

I've always been in the camp that was opposed to trading India in favor of the team's young infielders. But after having seen the quartet of Noelvi Marte, Elly De La Cruz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Matt McLain, I'm beginning to warm up to the idea. That doesn't even take into account Spencer Steer.

There are only so many spots in the everyday lineup, and Reds fans saw just how hard that can be. There were days this past season when Marte sat in favor of Encarnacion-Strand, Steer sat in favor of Joey Votto, and De La Cruz sat in favor of McLain.

India was the unquestioned lead of this year's Reds team. He proudly accepted that role during spring training and it followed him throughout the season. When not in the game itself, oftentimes India was at the top of the dugout steps or sitting beside manager David Bell.

That's an intangible that you just can't teach, and one that's very valuable. This one would be difficult for a good section of Reds Country to swallow, but Jonathan India isn't untouchable. Don't be shocked if the Reds second baseman is playing elsewhere in 2024.

4. Reds utility player Nick Senzel might not be back in 2024.

Moving on from Nick Senzel is a something that became clearer during the season. In fact, were it not for a midseason injury to Joey Votto, Senzel may have finished the 2023 season at Triple-A Louisville.

The Reds optioned Senzel to Triple-A in August, but recalled the utility player after a rash of injuries and several placements on the COVID-19-related injured list forced the front office's hand.

Senzel's role with the ball club has been reduced to little more than platoon bat against left-handed pitching. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, Senzel excelled in that role this season and was one of the best hitters league-wide against southpaws.

The problem is, Senzel voiced his displeasure with that role before the trade deadline. While Cincinnati was unable to find a trade partner or a deal that suited them, the Reds now have the entire offseason to find a mutually beneficial deal.

Nick Senzel never lived up to the hype in Cincinnati. But that's not to say that he wouldn't find success with a new organization. A position change during his rookie season and a lot of injuries really torpedoed Senzel's career. Perhaps the former first-round pick will latch on with a new team this winter.

5. Reds infielder Jose Barrero might not be back in 2024.

Jose Barrero will be an interesting name to watch during the offseason. Barrero has yet to find consistent success at the big league level, but the former top prospect clobbered Triple-A pitching this past season.

Barrero broke camp with the Cincinnati Reds and was the team's Opening Day shortstop. His time a the position did not last long, and by the middle of the season, the Reds optioned Barrero back to the minors.

The talent that Barrero possesses is off the charts. He has the prototypical speed, arm, glove, and power that every team is looking for in a starting shortstop. The problem, however, has been an inability to consistently hit major league pitching.

Now, I'll argue to the cows come home that Barrero hasn't received a fair shake at actually playing the position full-time. The Reds suffered through a lot strikeouts and poor at-bats from Elly De La Cruz this past season and never once was the rookie phenom sent back to Triple-A.

That's not to suggest the Reds should have made such a drastic move this season. But in his rookie campaign, De La Cruz received 423 plate appearances. In his first three major league seasons with the Reds, Barrero has 447 plate appearances, oftentimes with very sporadic playing time.

The point is, there's still a lot to like about Jose Barrero, but it's hard to see where he fits on the Cincinnati Reds roster in 2024. A rebuilding team like the Oakland Athletics, Chicago White Sox, or Los Angeles Angels might be interested in trading for a player like Barrero, who's still just 25 years old.