Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Joey Votto will become a free agent next season after the Cincinnati Reds declined to offer the aging first baseman a $20 million contract option to play in 2024, abruptly ending a two-decade career with the team.
The Reds instead offered $7 million to Votto to buy out the 10-year, $225 million contract extension he signed with the franchise in 2012.
The 40-year-old Votto has played his entire career in Cincinnati, but didn't play his first game last season until September after 10 months off to heal from a shoulder injury.
He recently expressed his desire to play again next season, but the six-time All-Star and 2010 MVP will now have to do that with another team for the first time as a professional.
"For 17 seasons, Joey has been the heart of Reds baseball as a Most Valuable Player, All-Star and respected clubhouse leader," team president Nick Krall said in a statement. "His contributions to our team and his extraordinary generosity toward those in need, throughout our region and beyond, cannot be measured."
Votto's time with the Reds places him alongside Dave Concepcion, Barry Larkin, Bid McPhee and Johnny Bench for players with the most number of seasons with the team.
He was taken by the Reds in the second round of the 2002 MLB draft, and helped lead the team to four playoff appearances throughout his career. The Canadian is currently the franchise leader in walks with 1,365 and second all-time for home runs and doubles.
Younger players on the team have praised Votto's leadership in the clubhouse as the team pursued a playoff berth in 2023.
In 65 games this season, Votto batted .202 with a .747 OPS, 14 home runs and 38 RBIs.