Joey Votto's time as a member of the Cincinnati Reds seems to be over. The Reds declined Votto's club-option for 2024 making the future Hall of Famer a free agent for the first time in illustrious career.
That begs the question, which Reds player will be anointed as the new face of the franchise? Though Joey Votto has been maligned these past few years due to injury and inconsistent play, he was still the most recognizable Reds player. So who will take up that mantle?
Note: Face of the franchise doesn't necessarily mean the best player on the team, though sometimes that can be the case. But the ability to draw attention to the team via one's play, leadership, and marketability are key factors in being the face of the franchise.
4. Reds RHP Graham Ashcraft could be the next face of the franchise
This is, admittedly, an outside-the-box choice. Graham Ashcraft isn't the ace of the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff. To be quite frank about it, the Reds don't really have an ace at the moment. But is there any player that embodies what the Reds fanbase is about more than Ashcraft.
Ashcraft is gamer. He's a bulldog. The right-hander is going to give you everything he's got each and every time he steps onto the mound. While the Reds were clinging to their slim playoff chances entering the month of September, any shot at the postseason went up in smoke when Ashcraft hit the IL.
Ashcraft has a wicked, unpredictable repertoire of pitches. It's unfair to call Ashcraft a strikeout artist, because the Alabama native prefers to pitch to contact. Ashcraft is looking to get ground balls and allow his defense to make plays.
There might not be a member of the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff that shows more emotion on the mound than Graham Ashcraft. It's not often that a pitcher, who only sees the field once every five days, is considered the face of the franchise. But perhaps Ashcraft can change that narrrative.