Simple hypothetical here, just go with it.
Pretend the Reds didn't extend Votto, and simply rode out his arbitration years until he left this offseason. Where would things stand right now?
I'm struggling to find a way (despite knowing Votto is only "worth" 5-6 wins a year, probably) that I would see the Reds as a competitive club right now. The only thing I could come up with is that they would have had the money to extend/resign Choo if they so chose, but who knows what the numbers on the deal would be.
I'm not very imaginative with things, so I look forward to reading where you guys think things would be right now.