It’s looking like the end of an era for the Cincinnati Reds.
The team announced Saturday it declined Joey Votto’s option for the 2024 season, making him a free agent.
Votto would have been owed $17 million next year if the Reds picked it up. The sides can negotiate another salary, but the Reds made it seem like that’s probably not an option.
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In what seemed like a farewell to their beloved first baseman Saturday, the Reds said they “cannot commit to the playing time Joey deserves … based on our current roster and projected plans for the 2024 season.
“For 17 seasons, Joey has been the heart of Reds baseball as a Most Valuable Player, All-Star and respected clubhouse leader. His contributions to our team and his extraordinary generosity toward those in need, throughout our region and beyond, cannot be measured,” the team added in a statement.
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He forever will be part of the Reds’ family, and at the appropriate time we will thank and honor him as one of the greatest baseball players of this or any generation.
Votto likely has a spot waiting for him in Cooperstown. He was a perennial MVP candidate in his prime. He won the award in 2010, finished in second in 2017 and third in 2015. He’s led the National League in on-base percentage seven times, and he had the highest OBP in baseball three times.
For his career, he’s a .294 hitter with a .409 on-base percentage and .511 slugging percentage.
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The last two seasons have not been kind to Votto. He’s played in just 156 games since the start of the 2022 season. In those campaigns, he’s hit just .204 with a .712 OPS. From his MLB debut in 2007 through 2021, he was a .302 hitter with a .937 OPS. He tied his career-high with 36 home runs in 2021 despite playing in just 129 games.