Votto talks 'adjustment' after trades, his outlook for '22

March 15th, 2022

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto has spent his entire Major League career in Cincinnati since debuting in 2007. Throughout, he has been one of the club’s most popular players.

Votto, 38, enjoyed a strong 2021 campaign while batting .266 with a .938 OPS, 36 home runs and 99 RBIs in 129 games as he built on a potential Hall of Fame resume. However, he has been to the playoffs precious few times -- 2010, ’12, ’13 and ’20.

Meanwhile, Votto has witnessed the front office both spend to add resources and played through a rebuild.

The Reds are cutting payroll again and made two trades in the last two days that moved Sonny Gray, Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez in exchange for younger talent.

What did Votto think of the moves? He talked with MLB.com late Monday afternoon about the trades and his personal expectations for his play in 2022.

MLB.com: What were your thoughts on the trades?

Joey Votto: It’s certainly an adjustment. You develop relationships with these people. You wish them well in the same uniform. You get to know their families and get to know them as men. Then pretty instantly, they’re in a different uniform and you have to adjust, of course. I can say two different things. You have to accept that as part of this business, part of this process. But you can also be disappointed and miss them, remember the good times with them and wish them well. I played with both of them for a long time and watched them grow up. Obviously, Suárez came over as a Tiger and I developed a really nice relationship with him. Jesse came up in the organization and I developed a great relationship with him. I watched them grow into All-Star caliber players. The Mariners are getting two really good people and two really good players. I wish them well.

MLB.com: You have two guaranteed years left on your contract. You may not be here for the next upswing.

Votto: That’s obviously not something I play for. 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.

MLB.com: Do you envision accepting or demanding a trade?

Votto: That’s the type of question you’d have to ask ownership and the front office. I have never once in my career asked or even whispered anything like that. 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. That’s not my question.

MLB.com: After a very nice 2021, what did you do in the offseason to build off that?

Votto: You’re a nice opportunity to speak to the public. In my opinion, I’ve had one bad Major League season -- 2019. I keep hearing “three subpar years.” In ’18, I was an All-Star. In ’19, I had a really, really subpar season. I had a poor start in ’20 and adjusted. I was trending in the identical direction as ’21. Fortunately, I had full season -- unlike 2020 -- to be able to finish the year.

2021 was a nice standard bounce back, back to playing well. My goals are to sharpen my game against left-handers, to play more. I played 129 games last year. Health is a big goal of mine. I’d like to play as much defense as possible. After COVID and a thumb break last year -- if you look at my numbers -- that’s what I expect defensively and offensively. There’s no question about it. The only thing I am thinking about is health and performing at that level. I don’t like to make excuses, if you don’t have a training camp, that’s legitimate. When you’re recovering from COVID -- I don’t want to get into specifics -- it wasn’t until after I came back from the thumb break that I felt like I was in proper baseball condition.

MLB.com: With this year being a 3 1/2-week camp, is that enough time for you?

Votto: I was taking live at-bats and competing well and preparing well. Knock on wood, I anticipate I’m going to be sharp come Game 1. I was in Redondo Beach [Calif.] a little bit. There were some pitchers down there. They carved me up a little bit but that’s step 1. I will be ready on April 7.