‘I just want to say thank you’ — Votto sends message to Reds fans one day after option is declined

After 17 seasons in Cincinnati, Votto may play elsewhere in 2024 after his contract option was declined

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Joey Votto traveled memory lane Sunday as he shared a series of photos on Instagram.

• A shot of Votto and his first professional coach, Freddie Benavides, at the Field of Dreams game in Iowa in 2022. “We worked together for over 20 years,” Votto wrote, “and he still coached me hard.”

• Photos of Votto with his “many great teammates,” including Jay Bruce, Eugenio Suarez, Johnny Cueto, Brandon Phillips, etc.

• Photos of Votto with various members of the Reds clubhouse staff.

• And the first photo of Votto in a Reds uniform when he was 18.

Votto is now 40, and he has likely played his last game with the Reds, who announced Saturday they had declined the $20 million option on his contract for the 2024 season. He said after the 2023 season, his 17th in Cincinnati, he wanted to play at least one more season. This was the last year of a 10-year, $225-million contract Votto signed in 2014.

Votto delivered a message to Reds fans on Instagram while sitting on a red chair in front of a pine tree in a leaf-covered yard and shared the video Sunday. Here’s what he said:

“Happy Sunday morning. I want to speak directly to you all. After yesterday’s news, I just wanted to say thank you. If this is the last time I’ll play as a Cincinnati Red, I want to speak out loud my gratitude. I want to thank the community. I want to thank Cincinnati for being so welcoming. I’m from Toronto, Canada. And when I came down to the U.S. as an 18-year-old, it was an intimidating experience.

“I grew comfortable and eventually made it to Cincinnati, and that was another intimidating experience. But it blossomed into the best stretch of my entire life. And it’s because of the Cincinnati community that I felt welcomed by the people on the street that would say hello, that would wish me and our team well, the first responders in the community that were always available and made me feel safe and cared for.

“Coming from a big city, it was such an enjoyable experience living the daily routine in Cincinnati. The travel to and from, seeing familiar faces on the street, driving through the city. It’s like I never once got to know how Cincinnati’s roads worked, no matter if I used the maps tool on my phone, or my car, but it was such a charming experience. I laughed about that during this summer, how I still didn’t recognize some of the roads, and I had been here for 17 seasons.

“I just want to say thank you to all the Reds fans in Cincinnati and elsewhere. I couldn’t have loved an experience more. I’m so proud to have been able to play for the oldest major league team, to play for a team with endless gifts coming my way. I’m so humbled. I’m so grateful. And it couldn’t have happened without all of you, without the Cincinnati community.

“I’ll always be a Cincinnati Red. The memories are endless. The growth has an individual, I’m so thankful. I just want to say thank you. I’ll always have a great deal of love, and Cincinnati has such a special meaning to me. So thank you, and until next time.”

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