Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell had enough problems last season trying to navigate a roster with three catchers. If Joey Votto re-signs with the Reds this offseason, it's going to be quite the challenge to fill out a lineup card.
It looked as though Votto's time in Cincinnati may be coming to a close after he waved goodbye to the fans at Great American Ball Park two weeks ago. But Votto mentioned during a radio broadcast on Friday that he intends to play in 2024, and would like it to be with the only team he's ever known.
Votto, coming off shoulder surgery, hit just .202/.314/.433 with 14 home runs and 38 RBI in 2023. But there's reason to believe that the former MVP could put up better numbers a year removed from surgery and with a full offseason and spring training to ready himself for the 2024 campaign.
Re-signing Joey Votto could spell doom for Jonathan India
After having another down-year and seeing several rookie infielders excel this past season, one could surmize that Jonathan India's future in Cincinnati is already a bit cloudy. In 119 games this season, India hit .244/.338/.407 while playing below-average defense.
There was talk of trading India at last summer's deadline, but nothing ever materialized. India's stint on the IL with plantar fasciitis revealed what an infield of Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, and Noelvi Marte might look like in 2024.
But, depth is never a bad thing, and the National League's adoption of the designated hitter would allow for India to remain an everyday player while also allowing manager David Bell to put his best defensive lineup on the field.
But if the Cincinnati Reds re-sign Joey Votto, they're not doing so in order for him to ride the pine and receive the occassional pinch hit opportunity in the seventh or eighth inning. I'm not really sure that's a role that Votto would accept anyway. He's made no bones about it - Votto wants to play, not sit in the dugout.
As currently constructed, the Reds roster already has 10 players who'll be competing for nine spots in the everyday lineup without Votto being part of the equation. India, Marte, De La Cruz, Encarnacion-Strand, McLain, Spencer Steer, TJ Friedl, Jaker Fraley, and Will Benson all need regular at-bats.
So, if you're one of the mutitude of Reds fans who want to see Votto return for one more season, are you willing to give up India to do it? That's likely what would have to happen.
It's going to be hard enough for Bell to juggled the 10 players who are looking for regular at-bats. If that number creeps up to 11, then you're really beginning to push the envelope.
It's not impossible to see a scenario where the Cincinnati Reds have both Joey Votto and Jonathan India on the 2024 Opening Day roster, but the chances of that actually happening would be very slim.