Joey Votto posts a video thanking Cincinnati after Reds decline his contract option and let him go

CINCINNATI (AP) — Joey Votto posted a video on social media Sunday thanking the people of Cincinnati, one day after his 17-year career with the Reds apparently came to an end.

In a video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday morning, the 40-year-old first baseman said that “if this is the last time I'll play as a Cincinnati Red, I want to speak out loud my gratitude.”

The team announced on Saturday it declined to pick up the $20 million option on his contract for 2024, making him a free agent for the first time in his career.

Nick Krall, the Reds president of baseball operations, said that with all the talented young players in the roster, Votto wouldn't get the playing time he deserved.

Votto, who remains hugely popular with fans, said he was made to feel welcome in Cincinnati from the beginning.

“I'm from Toronto, Canada, and when I came down to the US as an 18-year-old, it was an intimidating experience,” Votto said. “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.”

Votto will get a $7 million buyout from the Reds, completing a contract that guaranteed $251.5 million over 12 seasons. He will now be free to sign with another team.

Krall said Saturday letting Votto go was not a financial situation and there was not discussion of a new deal that would keep him with the Reds.

Votto 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.

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