Why 2023 may not be Joey Votto's final season in a Reds uniform

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

As the calendar now flips to 2023, the reality that Joey Votto may be playing his final season in a Cincinnati Reds uniform is upon us.

After a bounce-back season in 2021, Votto's 2022 campaign did not go as planned. Votto was woeful at the dish throughout the year and shortly after the All-Star break, it was revealed that a shoulder injury he'd suffered years prior would sideline the former MVP for the final two months of the season.

Votto's 10-year contract is nearly up and the six-time All-Star will be paid $25M in 2023. But, the possibility exists that next season may not be Votto's last in a Reds uniform.

Why 2023 may not be Joey Votto's final season in a Reds uniform.

Joey Votto is the greatest Cincinnati Reds player of his generation. While he has his fair share of critics, there's no denying that Votto one of the greatest players in franchise history and may very well find his name enshrined among those in Cooperstown.

But 2023 could very well be Votto's final year in a Reds uniform. Heck, if he has a clunker of a season like he did in 2022, it may be his final year playing professional baseball altogether.

After a renaissance performance in 2021 saw him slash .266/.375/.563 with 36 home runs and 99 runs batted in, last season was not nearly as glamorous. Votto couldn't hit his weight and posted a slash line of .205/.319/.370. His .689 OPS was the worst of his career. Was the poor performance a product of that lingering shoulder injury? Perhaps.

Joey Votto's contract with the Reds contains a club-option for the 2024 season.

While next season is the final guaranteed year on Joey Votto's 10-year contract extension, the Cincinnati Reds do hold a $20M club-option for the 2024 season along with a $7M buyout should the two sides decide to part company.

So, with the Reds on the hook for at least $7M in 2024, the question now becomes, is Joey Votto worth $13M in what will be his age 40 season? A lot will be riding on Votto's 2023 performance.

Many will argue that keeping an aging player like Votto on a rebuilding club is foolish. After all, he'd be owed a $20M salary, his skills are diminishing, and there are several young players who'd be eager to take his place on the roster.

All of that may be true, but one needn't look much further than what Albert Pujols brought to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2022. The future Hall of Famer returned to the Gateway City and had a season to remember.

While his production didn't match the MVP numbers that Pujols put up earlier in his career, the excitement surrounding his final season gave Cardinals fans the chance to send off the three-time MVP properly.

Depending on Joey Votto's performance in 2023, the decision to pick up his $20M club-option for 2024 may be more about marketing than on-field production. While the appropriate "baseball" decision may be as easy as letting Votto walk after 2023, the decision to make next season his last in a Reds uniform may not be so cut and dry.

The Reds are well-positioned if Votto misses time in 2023. dark. Next