At 79-73, the Cincinnati Reds are percentage points behind the Chicago Cubs for the third and final NL wild-card spot. It is the first time the Reds have been in the postseason race this late in a 162-game season since 2013. , so we're all set up for a thrilling finish to the season.
For Reds legend Joey Votto, he is currently playing what might he his final homestand with Cincinnati, if not the final games of his big league career. The recently turned 40-year-old is in the final guaranteed season of his contract and the Reds need roster spots and at-bats for their young infielders. You don't have to try too hard to see how this could be Votto's final season with Cincinnati.
On Monday, Votto was asked whether he has thought about this being his final homestand with the Reds. Here's what the always thoughtful six-time All-Star said:
"I don't think about that. I've had moments where it's crossed my mind, and the nice thing about playing competitive ball is that you're thinking about today's game and performing well," Votto said. "... As far as this being the last homestand, if that's the case, I can't do anything about that -- I don't want to say I can't do anything about that -- I just am having a really good time playing really meaningful baseball with some really fun teammates. So however it shakes out, I'm good. I'm good. I just want to help out. I just want to play. All I've ever wanted to do is play. It's the most important thing to me."
Votto had shoulder surgery last August and he had to hit pause on ihs rehab work a few times earlier this year. He rejoined the Reds on June 19 and is hitting .209/.309/.458 with 14 home runs in 57 games. Votto recently missed two weeks with soreness in his shoulder and he's not playing much against lefties in general. At this point, he is a highly decorated veteran role player.
The Reds hold a $20 million club option for Votto next year and it comes with a hefty $7 million buyout, so it's a $13 million decision. At this stage in his career though, Votto is not a $13 million player. If anything, the Reds would decline the option and try to bring him back at a lower salary, but even then, how many at-bats will be available given the club's infield depth?
Cincinnati has two games remaining with the Minnesota Twins and then they'll wrap up their home schedule with three games with the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend. The Reds finish up their regular season with two games against the Cleveland Guardians and three games with the St. Louis Cardinals next week, all on the road. Even if they make the postseason, the Reds are not assured a home game during the Wild Card Series.