CINCINNATI -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto realizes that it comes with the territory.
Votto's three-year, $38 million contract expires after the 2013 season and he can become a first-time free agent. He will make $17 million that final year after making $9.5 million next season. He's also the best player on a small-market Cincinnati club.
Hence, there's been frequent media speculation that the Reds might try to trade Votto and bring in a haul of players rather than let him sail off into free agency. General manager Walt Jocketty has vehemently, and repeatedly, denied the rumors.
"That type of stuff doesn't bother me," Votto said while taking a break from signing autographs at Redsfest on Friday. "Still, it's the only organization I have ever known. I've grown into a man here. It would be disappointing to get traded. Walt having my back is a positive thing but I accept getting traded, or getting released, or not being part of the same team is part of this business or there is that potential."
The quickest way to throw a blanket on Hot Stove rumors would be for Votto to sign an extension. But that hasn't come up yet and he is not interested, yet, in listening to overtures about one.
"There might be a time and place but we're not even close," Votto said. "I mentioned this last year. I have two more years on my deal. Some guys get antsy to sign extensions. Some guys don't and I am one of those guys. Even if they traded me to another team, it doesn't matter where I am, I am not in a rush. I don't like doing that. I am perfectly fine waiting."
The 2010 National League Most Valuable Player, Votto followed up with a solid 2011, in which he batted .309 with 29 home runs, 103 RBIs and a league-leading .416 on-base percentage. The 28-year-old also led the NL with 110 walks and 40 doubles while also earning his second All-Star Game berth and first NL Gold Glove Award.
Had the Reds not finished 79-83 and a distant third in the NL Central race -- after winning the division in 2010 -- Votto said there would no trade speculation about him.
"I didn't think it would happen because I didn't expect us to fail last year," Votto said. "I expected a winning season. I thought it would be an easy way for the organization to pay me based on how arbitration escalated because the fans would have had come out, and the support in general. Last year changed a lot of things. I hope we get back on track, and where it was in 2010."
Unlike last winter, when he had many new commitments associated with winning the MVP, Votto has used this offseason to recharge his battery, which included buying his first home in the Gulf Coast region of Florida. He's already started his workout program at a nearby high school and works often with Ryan Jackson, the hitting coach at Triple-A Louisville. Jackson has also helped Votto with improving to a high level defensively.
"I do baseball stuff every day," Votto said. "Last year there were stretches that were very frustrating. I think that was a byproduct of just being burnt out in general.
"I feel more refreshed than I've felt in a long time."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.