Category: Cincinnati Reds

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Can Someone Please Just Sign Joey Votto?

For 17 years, Joey Votto was a staple for the Cincinnati Reds. Drafted in the second round in 2002, Votto would go on to be a six-time All-Star, a Gold Glove winner and the 2010 National League MVP. He’d lead the league in on-base percentage seven different times while leading in walks five times as well as three times in intentional walks. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest Canadian-born position players to ever play Major League Baseball.

Can someone please just sign the guy?

On Tuesday, Votto posted his recreation of the “Sad Keanu” meme on social media with the caption “missing ball.”

If that photo doesn’t just break your heart, perhaps this threat he posted on social media not long ago will enrage you.

That’s right, the man isn’t going to put his shopping carts away because no MLB team has been brave enough to add the veteran to their organization. To show that he means business, Votto even took a cart home and put it in his shower.

The madness needs to end.

It’s been a strange offseason for a lot of players and teams. After a quick spending spree early in the offseason, things went ice cold like the weather in December. Teams showed an unwillingness to spend, pointing to uncertainty around regional sports networks and television deals, and tried to spend big on international free agents. Many teams are opting to sign pillow contracts with players and hope that their cheaper and younger crops of prospects are ready to help them compete. Even as the second full week of Spring Training games gets underway, two of the top pitching free agents, including the reigning NL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell, remain available.

On the other hand, the contraction of available roster spots in the minors has caused teams to consider more carefully the minor league deals they are issuing to veterans seeking a job somewhere. This has left many players in the bubble without a job and the uncertainty of free agency has taken its toll on many players.

Votto made a humorous analogy about being a free agent.

It’s no mystery that Votto is no spring chicken. At 40 years old, he would be the oldest position player in baseball should he sign with a team. Injuries have hindered him the past two seasons, but when on the field still showcased an ability to hit the long ball. In 156 games between 2022 and 2023, he belted 25 home runs and drove in 79 runs. In his 17 seasons as a big leaguer, he has failed to hit 10 or more home runs in a season just twice.

There have been rumors over the offseason of teams expressing interest in Votto’s services. Toronto seemed like a possible and sensible suitor as the Canadian could play for his hometown team. At one point, USA Today‘s  Bob Nightengale reported that had three teams interested in him. This report prompted a quality response from Votto.

When the Reds decided to part ways with Votto at the end of the 2023 season, he expressed an understanding about the move.

“At 40 years old, a team that’s about to be a championship-caliber team didn’t pick up the option of a guy who hit .200 in back-to-back seasons,” Votto told reporters, like Charlie Goldsmith. However, like President of Baseball Operations Mike Krall, didn’t fully close the door on a potential reunion of some kind that could have occurred.

“I’m not closing the door on anything,” Krall said (as relayed by’s Mark Sheldon), “I just think with the players we have on our roster right now, there’s no playing time [for Votto]… It would be tough to have him as just a pinch-hitter bat off the bench with the way our roster is constructed right now.” Krall went on to acknowledge that it will be “tough to watch” if Votto winds up playing in another uniform next year after departing the Reds.

There is still the prospect that Votto could join the organization as some sort of special assistant mentor or coach for the Reds, but he made it clear at the end of the season that he intended to keep playing for at least one more season. Unfortunately with the seasons starting in a few weeks, time is running out.

Votto endured two of his worst seasons the past two years. He saw his slash line drop drastically, particularly in the batting average department. A career .294 hitter, Votto hit slightly over .200 each of the past two years. The power was diminished, yet he still showed a keen eye at the plate and an ability to limit strikeouts. Should he manage to sign somewhere, it would likely be in a bench role, potentially as a platoon bat.

If Votto goes unsigned and ends up retiring, he will finish with 64.4 WAR in his career along with 356 home runs, 2,135 hits, 1,144 RBI, and a career .294/.409/.511 slash line with a 144 OPS+. He has a quality case for the Hall of Fame down the road, but there is still some good baseball left in him that a team could utilize this season, even if just as a mentor for the rookies.

Someone just needs to sign Votto. Do it for the shopping carts.


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