Votto says he won't waive no-trade clause

Reds first baseman determined to make improvements in game

Votto says he won't waive no-trade clause

CINCINNATI -- Joey Votto certainly gets it. As long as the Reds first baseman keeps producing while signed to a monster contract for a small-market club, his name will come up in trade rumors and trade suggestions each offseason.

But Votto's feelings, and the club's, don't follow the narrative. He has no interest in waiving the full no-trade clause in his contract and going to another team.

"I do understand why there is a conversation. It's interesting," Votto said as the team gathered Friday night for Redsfest. "After a while, you get used to it. You don't pay much attention to it because if they're going to [report rumors] five years in a row, then at some point there's not much meaning to it."

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Votto, 33, has seven guaranteed years and $179 million left on the 10-year extension he signed in 2012. There is a $20 million team option for the 2024 season.

"I'm looking forward to the team getting better," Votto said. "I'm looking 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. 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.

"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. 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 said there have been not been efforts by the club to move Votto this winter.

"We're in no negotiations," Williams said.

Votto maintained he would prefer to finish his career in Cincinnati. Although he does hold the final decision, he did acknowledge his belief that he does not have all of the power.

"I've never been the guy who has forced people's hands," he said. "I've worked really hard to not look [bad] in my career and I've worked really hard to be a loyal worker, and I'd like to keep that going. Until I feel like I'm being shuffled out, you saw [that] last year with Brandon [Phillips], you saw it in Philadelphia with Chase Utley. 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]. I'm not going to be a nice guy."

Votto has yet to feel that broom.

"I haven't heard a thing, and everything that's been said publicly has been very supportive," Votto said. "I admire [the NBA's] Tim Duncan in San Antonio. Never once did you hear about him going anywhere. Or [the NFL's] 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."

In another strong offensive season, Votto batted .326/.434/.550 with 29 home runs, 34 doubles and 97 RBIs in 158 games. He led the league in on-base percentage, and was second in OPS and walks.

But defensively, the 2011 winner of the National League Gold Glove Award at first base has declined in the past couple of seasons. According to advanced metrics, he was ranked near the bottom in the Majors. Votto has re-dedicated himself to improving and plans to spend much of the remaining offseason in a warmer climate than his native Canada.

"In past years, I think I did not make baseball a priority," he said. "I spent most of my time just training. It's not how I got to where I am, focusing on physical training. I used to spend a lot of time swinging, hitting in the cage, doing defensive work and a lot of outdoor things. The past couple of years, when I was in Toronto, I wasn't able to do that. It's been an attribute of my game that has really taken a hit. I don't think that is something I want to happen long-term."

There is one thing about Votto that is a mystery. He hasn't decided if he will play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic.

"I'm on the fence," he said. "I'm going to come to a conclusion here soon."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.