CINCINNATI — Joey Votto’s $20 million option for 2024 was declined Saturday by the Reds, making the first baseman a free agent and likely ending his career with Cincinnati after 17 seasons.
Votto will get a $7 million buyout, completing a contract that guaranteed $251.5 million over 12 seasons.
“We’re not closing the door on anything,” general manager Nick Krall said. “I just think with the players we have on our roster right now, there’s no playing time. We’ve got to figure out how to get playing time for some of these players to keep moving forward, and I think that’s where we are right now. Something could happen, but right now it’s not there.”
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Cincinnati also declined its part of a $4 million mutual option with catcher Curt Casali, who gets a $750,000 buyout.
Krall said during a conference call that Votto was in Spain when he notified him on Thursday morning. Krall said he discussed the move with CEO Bon Castellini and it was not a financial decision There was no discussion of a new deal.
“We don’t have a spot for him to play right now,” Krall said. “We need to get other players at-bats, so that’s where the decision was.”
Votto, 40, hit .202 with 14 homers and 38 RBIs in 65 games this season. He didn’t play his first game until June 19, 10 months to the day after surgery on his left biceps and rotator cuff.
A six-time All-Star and the 2010 NL MVP, Votto has a .294 average with 356 homers and 1,144 RBIs.Krall said the Reds were not ready to commit to Christian Encarnacion-Strand or Spencer Steer at third base.
Casali, 34, hit .175 with six RBIs over 50 games in his first season with the Reds. He is a 10-year big league veteran.