CINCINNATI -- When Joey Votto hears his name mentioned on the trade runs -- as he has for each of last few years -- it doesn’t change his outlook on his future:
He wants to remain a Red. He expects to remain a Red.
“I do understand why there is a conversation,” Votto said upon his arrival at Redsfest. “It’s interesting. It draws people to their sites, that particular subject. After a while, you get used to it. You don’t pay much attention to it because if they’re going to do it five years in a row, then at some point there’s not much meaning to it. I feel the same way. I’m looking forward to the team getting better. I’m look forward to being a part of it.
"I know I have to do everything I can to be a better all-around player so I can keep up with the rest of the guys on the team."
Votto has started working on defense to that end. He may be the Reds’ best player, but he admitted after the season that he had a bad year defensively.
“Watching both the Indians and the Cubs compete in the World Series this year, you saw almost every different aspect of what makes winning baseball happen,” he said. “I felt like there are parts of my game, specifically, that I was coming up a bit short on. I’m looking forward to playing with 25 guys that can bring a championship back to Cincinnati.
"It was a very exciting time in Cleveland. It was a very exciting time in Chicago, obviously. I look forward to bringing that back here, being part of that sort of experience again. The three playoff experiences that I’ve had were short-lived and disappointing. I’d like another go. I’d like to be part of another go, here.”
Reds general manager Dick Williams says the rumors are just that -- rumors.
“I got a text today (from a writer asking) ‘if we’re in active negotiations with the Blue Jays.' We’re in no negotiations,” Williams said.
Votto, of course, has a full no-trade clause. But he says that doesn’t always prevent a team from trading a player.
“You'd be surprised how it's a two-way street,” he said. “I’ve seen guys forced out. I've seen guys stay and everything in between. It's not a fun experience for the guys who want to stay put and get shuffled on. It's not a fun experience for the guys who have no say and get shuffled out.
"Some teams can't stand guys and would really like to see guys go. The only thing I think about is there's almost never a team that's unhappy with a performer, who is unhappy with a guy who does their job all the way around. That's my objective here, to always be a productive player. That's where I take care of my side of the street -- the other side is I want to be on a team that's competitive. I feel like our organization is moving in that direction.”
Votto said that could change.
“Until I feel like I'm being shuffled out, you saw last year with Brandon (Phillips), you saw it in Philadelphia with Chase Utley,” he said. “Until I start feeling like the broom is on my heels, I'll be a really nice guy. If I feel the broom on my heels, I'll be a bit of (a jerk).”
Votto says the Reds made him feel like they won't do that with him.
“I haven't heard a thing and everything that's been said publicly has been very supportive. And again, I look at guys I admire - Tim Duncan in San Antonio, never once did you hear about him going anywhere, or Tom Brady in New England, never once do you hear about him going anywhere. Because they hold up to their end of the bargain by performing at a certain level and teams are excited to keep them.
"That's my objective, to do this as long as I can. Hopefully we have another window of competitiveness and I'd love to be a part of a World Series here."