Yasiel Puig and Jesse Winker (unless injured) will be on the Opening Day roster, that much we know. After that, the outfield has several questions that need to be answered. Will Matt Kemp be traded? How about Scott Schebler? Will Nick Senzel be in center come Opening Day? Let’s breakdown this outfield situation.
The 40 man roster includes Phillip Ervin, Kemp, Puig, Schebler, Jose Siri, and Winker. Siri will be headed back to the minors to groom his offensive skills. He needs to take a big step forward with the bat. His defense seems MLB ready. The Reds problem is the lack of true center fielders. Sure a few could play center, but you would not want your plan for the entire season to be one of those guys in center. Ervin, a 2013 first round pick, might become the fan’s early choice due to his strong start to spring training (.429 and 3 HR). Ervin played well last season but seems to project as a bench bat and not a starter. Kemp was an All-Star last season and struggling after the break. His age and depleting defense limit his value. After hitting 30 home runs in 2017, Schebler only hit 17 last season. He will play some center and will be a lefty bat off the bench. If Senzel starts the year with the Reds is still unknown although I think we know what he can bring to this lineup.
What do the Reds do with this many options and so few spots? The easy answer is to look at who has options left. That would mean that Ervin would start the season in AAA Louisville. Ervin starting in Louisville would not be the worst idea. He could play multiple positions while getting everyday at-bats to be ready for his call up. Another option is to trade someone away. The most likely to be dealt would be Kemp as he could provide some pop to a team willing to play him every day or have him DH. Schebler would have value if they decided to move him with his versatility and lefty bat it would be an unlikely move. Winker is not a power guy, or a speed guy, or a glove guy. He’s an excellent on-base guy and he should be leading off the batting order. His .299 avg and .405 OBP would allow him to get on base in front of the Reds power bats. Puig will bat in the middle of the lineup and hopefully drive in plenty of runs. The Reds did not have problems with offense last year and they only improved during the offseason. I understand the whole team control thing. I also understand the whole winning thing. If you want to win you need to field the best team and that means Nick Senzel is your Opening Day centerfielder. We have seen this spring that Senzel can certainly hit. He is working on getting familiar with the position and the defense will come.
What I think this outfield looks like come Opening Day is Puig in Right, Winker in Left, Senzel in center, and Schebler on the bench. With Dietrich being able to play the outfield I do not think that Kemp will be on the roster the entire season. He could be there Opening Day or the Reds could use him to clear a spot on the roster for Senzel. Injuries could drastically change this. Regardless, this outfield is better compared to 2018. Improvements to this team are happening and we need to buckle in and enjoy the ride.
Should the Reds Sign or Trade Puig?
With the way he has struggled, and the Reds’ current pace, we may see Puig on the move before the trade deadline.
Yasiel Puig gave this team energy in December. The Cincinnati Reds haven’t had excitement in December in years. Acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, Puig came to town with a lot of buzz. You may remember him parading around town posting on social media about how much he loved Cincinnati and how excited he was to be a Red. I was thrilled. The talks of 30+ home runs and reaping the benefits of GABP had many fans following the Reds once again. Fast forward to mid- June and no one is too excited about the .213 hitter. The Reds’ chances at making the playoffs seems slim and it might be time to move some rentals. With an expiring contract the question is this: should the Reds look to trade Puig at the deadline?
One thing we all know about Puig is that he’s an emotional player and a big personality. This season, hitting and getting on base has been a struggle for the Wild Horse. A .213 average and a *squints* .256 on-base percentage are awful. 62 K’s to 13 walks is not pretty, either. Sitting at a -0.3 WAR you wonder what’s going on. 11 home runs and 9 stolen bases are positives. He has a strong arm in the outfield as well. While a walk off hit and “I am going to fight an entire Pirates’ team” were memorable moments of the season and, fun as hell, I am not sure if he’ll have a chance to make many more moments like these. So what teams are looking for a corner outfielder who is struggling and is maybe “a bit too much of a personality” for some? That might be the problem. The first corner outfielder off the market was Jay Bruce (name sounds familiar) to the Phillies. The amount of contending teams needing a corner outfield bat is not high and honestly there are simply better options available.
On paper, you would not see a larger return for a player with his stats. Look at his track record, a career .273 hitter that is no doubt a talented player. It might take an injury on a contending team to get his value up. A trade of “we lost a player and need to replace him” not a “let’s see if we can upgrade from our current player” type of trade. When the Reds traded Bruce to the Mets they took a flyer on an injured former high prospect Dilson Herrera. Sometimes taking a flyer on a prospect who might need a change of scenery can pay off big time. Someone did mention they could trade him and try to sign him back in the offseason. While true, I think the Reds would not trade him if they plan to sign him to an extension.
Signing Puig to an extension would pretty much set the outfield for a few years. Winker, Senzel (assuming he stays there), Puig. But with Taylor Trammell approaching quickly where would that put him? Ervin, Schebler, Sirri, Siani, and others could play a role in the future. Puig is not going to be cheap, either. What he does from here on out will give us a better idea but at only 28 years old he has many years left in him. Plenty of expiring contracts will need to be resigned and, well, the Reds don’t have Yankees-type money.
The trade deadline is coming soon and the Reds making the playoffs is very unlikely. Look for the front office to move some players for prospects and for Puig to be a prominently rumored player on the move.
Locked On Reds – 6/13/2019 Reds Split with Indians
Thursday’s episode is up!
Scooter Get Off The Pot
Scooter Gennett is a dude who will be hard to say goodbye to. The team’s current makeup, however, makes it seem that is coming, sooner rather than later.
Jeff has brought up a lot of talk about who we as fans would hate to see get traded this year. For me there is only one answer. Scooter Gennett.
Without a doubt it has to be him. While I completely understand if they do from a financial and bigger picture stand point, it will eat my soul. I haven’t seen a Cincinnati native this well liked since Barry Larkin.
Everything about him including his name screams a Cincinnati Reds ballplayer. You can see it in his play, character, leadership, and communication that this guy LOVES playing for his home town team. The man is already a Reds legend after smacking 4 home runs in a game. A game that, by sheer luck, I was able to witness. It was, by far, the best moment I have ever witnessed in person at GABP. He put up the best numbers of his career in 2017 only to follow it up with a better season as an All Star in 2018.
Scooter has made it clear he would like to remain a Red and loves this organization. I was really hoping the Reds would extend him to a short term deal last season after an incredible season that almost saw him win a batting title. I even tried starting the #ScooterGetOffThePot trend. Instead, like many things in recent memory with this team, good things go wrong quickly. He suffered the worst injury of his career with a severe strained groin.
Making the case for extending him even more difficult has been the off-the-wall performance by Derek Dietrich. Another free agent find who has been as wildly entertaining and likable. Dietrich has already made himself the face of the team this year with his kid like swagger for the game. Dietrich was just named second basemen of the month of May by the MLB. Per Stats by STATS Dietrich played in 55 games with a .706 slugging percentage. The only other player in baseball history to match that in there first 55 game with an organization was a HOF 2B Rogers Hornsby. The Reds also have control of Dietrich’s contract next season being an arbitration year. If you remove Dietrich from the equation it’s not any better.
Jose Iglesias is a must start for this team, currently, at shortstop. Iglesias is the best defensive infielder the team has had since Brandon Phillips. Iglesias also currently holds the highest batting average on the team nearly two months into the season. Meaning Jose Peraza has no place left to play but filling in for guys on their day off. Peraza also seems like a guy that, come next season, will more than likely be the starting shortstop simply because of his age and salary.
The Reds have their current center fielder, Nick Senzel, who has been the spark to this offense since coming up to the big leagues. The Reds have averaged nearly 2 more runs a game since Senzel has been playing for the team. Senzel definently stands a chance to be Rookie of the Year. Most importantly he seems to a guaranteed core player of this team’s foreseeable future. Senzel is a player who could, hypothetically, be the Reds starting second baseman for 2020. Plus they have Johnathan India, last year’s first round pick, quickly making his way up through the minors. He could potentially take that spot if not next season the following year.
None of this leads me to believe Scooter will be playing for this team next year. He is the perfect trading chip if they are looking to have a sale at the trade deadline or add a missing piece as well. I think what I enjoy about Scooter Gennett most is his GRIT. There is no denying the dude has GRIT. Something many of the players on this team currently do not have. More than anything that is why I will hate if he is traded.