Reds' Joey Votto: Retirement a better option than 'poor level'

The nearly $200 million that four-time All-Star first baseman Joey Votto has left on his contract in guaranteed money over the next eight seasons apparently doesn't matter.

The Cincinnati Reds slugger said that if he continues to play at the level he has this season, he'd rather just retire.

"It's not something I'm OK with. I'd rather quit and leave all the money on the table than play at a poor level," Votto said Sunday, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I'm here to play and be part of setting a standard. It's something I've always taken pride in.

"I love to play at a really high level. So far this year, it's not been that. I will not be a very satisfied, happy person if I don't perform at the level that I expect."

According to the Enquirer, Votto's .640 OPS in April was the worst of any full month in his career. He is batting .230 with two homers and 12 RBIs so far this season.

"In the frame of mind I'm in right now, I don't know ... I just ... All I've known is playing at a certain level," Votto said. "The way I played in April is unacceptable and embarrassing to me. It's not something that I would look forward to coming to the ballpark, coming to spring training to do, year in and year out. It just would leave me too unhappy, too unsatisfied."

Votto, 32, has said he was committed to Cincinnati for the long-term and hoped to play out the eight years left on his contract, despite the Reds' purge of high-priced, veteran talent over the past year as part of an organizational rebuild. Those players include Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman, Todd Frazier and Mike Leake.

"The inevitability of great players is they're going to come back and be great," Reds manager Bryan Price said, according to the Enquirer. "He's a very pure hitter, and he's an extremely hard worker. Nobody's been working harder than Joey to get on track. Also with the understanding that we're all aware that he will be back on track and he will be the productive offensive player that he's always been."

Votto hit .314 with a 1.000 OPS and 143 walks last year and finished third behind Washington's Bryce Harper and Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt in the National League MVP race.

Votto entered the season with $199 million in guaranteed money left on the 10-year, $225 million contract extension that he signed with the Reds in 2012. Votto's deal includes a $20 million club option for 2024 and a full no-trade clause.

Information from ESPN's Jerry Crasnick was used in this report.