The Cincinnati Reds are off to their worst start in franchise history, after losing a game 10-1 at the hands of the Colorado Rockies on Sunday afternoon. The Reds sit with a 3-19 record, 11.5 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central. Their start to the season has been shocking, and for veteran first baseman Joey Votto, it’s been hard to stomach.
“This is awful to experience each and every day,” said the former MVP Votto, per C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic. “We’re competitors, professionally. We’re competitors. Our job is to win. To go out and get smacked around every day is anti-everything that we’re about.
“For me, it’s an awful and embarrassing experience,” he added. “You have to keep going. But when you’re in the middle of it, it’s definitely embarrassing.”
In the leadup to the 2022 season, the Reds made a handful of questionable trades to send some of their best players away. Votto lost teammates like Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez in a trade with the Seattle Mariners, Sonny Gray who was traded to the Minnesota Twins, Tucker Barnhart who was traded to the Detroit Tigers, and Wade Miley who the Reds decided not to pick up a team option for. After winning 83 games in 2021, the Reds went into budget mode, saving a dollar here and there when they could.
“Like I said the other day, we’re aligning our payroll with our resources,” Cincinnati general manager Nick Krall said after the Miley move. “That’s where making this move today made sense for us.”
Votto has two seasons left on his deal that he signed in 2012. He is scheduled to earn $25 million in both of those seasons, however, the Reds opted to keep him around for the start of the 2022 campaign. The departure of some of the team’s best players has prompted people to ask, when will Votto put his foot down and demand to be moved? Even though it’s obvious the Reds won’t be doing any winning this season, that demand might not be coming any time soon.
“I have never once in my career asked or even whispered anything like [being traded],” Votto said. “I’ve been loyal to this uniform, to this city, to the contract that I signed. On my side of things, it’s never been something I’ve ever really prompted. I have a responsibility to the person that signs my checks.”
Votto has been incredibly loyal to the Reds in his career, almost to a fault at times. However, winning is important to him, and as he starts to reach the end of his career, that desire to win is only going to grow stronger.
“That’s obviously not something I play for,” he said before the season. “It would be a shame for the last clinching game of my career to be in an empty stadium in Minnesota [in 2020]. I’m grateful for that moment but I have higher expectations to be part of other large Major League moments. That’s without question concerning to me. I’ve been in the same uniform my entire career. We haven’t done enough winning.”
The 38-year-old Toronto native isn’t off to a great start in his 16th MLB season, hitting just .112 with a .413 OPS, and is yet to hit a home run, this season. According to Votto himself, he believes that he has only had one bad season to date in his career; 2019. In 2021, he had a resurgence, reminding people of just how good of a player he is, even as he gets older.
Votto didn’t suddenly lose all of his ability overnight, and it’s without question that some of his struggles are attributed to the almost hopeless situation the Reds have built for themselves. Whether Votto wants to believe it or not, leaving the organization where he has spent his entire career is his only chance at winning before his career is over.
If Votto is eventually traded this season, it’s going to be to a contender. Be it the New York Yankees, the New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays, or anyone else the Reds could get something in return from, he will have a chance to earn a World Series ring. His trade likely won’t return a whole lot for the Reds, but out of respect for a man who has given them his all for nearly 20 years, they need to make it happen.
For the sake of one of the greatest Canadian ballplayers ever, for a future Hall of Famer, for one of the best players to play for the Reds, Krall needs to allow him to play elsewhere. To see Votto go into Cooperstown without a ring on his finger would be a shame.
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