Though Votto’s name popped up repeatedly in trade rumors this past season, and will continue to this winter, the rebuilding Reds have no intention of moving the four-time All-Star, a team official told Bob Nightengale of USA Today, citing not only his on-field value but also his leadership in an increasingly inexperienced clubhouse.
Votto, one of few veterans to survive the roster purge that started last winter, enjoyed another sensational campaign in 2016 as the Reds, 68-94, stumbled to a second straight fifth-place finish in the National League Central.
In 158 games, the former MVP managed a .984 OPS with 29 homers and 34 homers while leading the NL in on-base percentage (.434) and park-adjusted offense (158 wRC+). Since his injury-shortened 2014 campaign, Votto, a career 313/.425/.536 hitter, has out-raked every player in baseball except the inimitable Mike Trout.
wRC+ leaders, 2015-2016
Still, while Votto is expected to draw interest from multiple teams this winter, he’d have to waive his-no trade clause to facilitate a deal, something he didn’t seem interested in doing last offseason.
“I absolutely love playing here,” Votto told MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon in December.
“When all this trade stuff gets going, it’s natural for a player to have that thought process and what would you consider? I just absolutely love playing here. I really like where I live. I like my team and my job. I like the location of the ballpark and the fans and the clubhouse and the uniform and the number on my back – all the littlest things that people take for granted are very comfortable to me and something I look forward to.
He continued, “I don’t think of myself as anything other than a Cincinnati Red. It’s one of the really cool things about having a no-trade clause. I’m one of the rare players who has that. I get to stay a Cincinnati Red.”
Last month, Reds president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty downplayed the likelihood of trading Votto, as well, noting that the 33-year-old – guaranteed another $ 179 million through 2023 – was encouraged by Cincinnati’s performance in the second half of 2016.
“When we started getting guys back and we started playing better, it was enjoyable. It really was,” Jocketty told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with this club. I talk to guys like Joey (Votto) – Joey sees it, he’s excited about it. I’ve seen him more engaged with some of these young guys.”