In the midst of a rebuild, the Cincinnati Reds have made a number of trades in order to get successful and winning baseball back in Cincinnati. Over the last five years, a lot of fan favorites and great overall baseball players have been traded away from Cincinnati or, in the case of Zack Cozart, allowed to leave during free agency due to the Reds not re-signing them. On the other hand, some of those players, like Joey Votto, have stuck through the entire process.
Cincinnati could very well be closer to the end of the rebuild than they are to the start of the rebuild, but they are missing a few key pieces, whether those players come up through the Cincinnati farm system or acquired via free agency or a trade. The obstacles that are blocking Cincinnati’s ability to make these moves can be attributed to a few things. With Homer Bailey and Joey Votto set to make $21 million and $25 million respectively for 2018, the two most veteran players on the roster are taking up nearly half of Cincinnati’s payroll together. Obtaining a big name free agent like Bryce Harper or Clayton Kershaw before the 2019 season seems to not be an option for Cincinnati’s rebuild. For the sake of argument, let’s eliminate the big name free agent signing.
There has been a lot of talk about Cincinnati trading Scooter Gennett while his value is high. In 55 game appearances so far in 2018, Gennett has scored 28 runs off of 71 hits, including 10 home runs. He leads the team in three categories, including hits and home runs, while also leading the Reds with a .343 batting average. Gennett’s contract is up at the end of the 2018 season, meaning he is eligible for arbitration next year. Cincinnati’s front office is going to need to decide if they want to sign Gennett for another contract or not.
Trading away Gennett seems to make the most sense as it would allow the Reds to acquire more in return because of his value and allow Cincinnati to bring up their top prospect Nick Senzel. Senzel has been playing for AAA Louisville all of 2018, listed as a 2B/3B. So far this season, Senzel has appeared in 25 games, accounting for 12 runs, 24 hits, three home runs and five stolen bases with a .250 batting average and .427 slugging percentage.
A Gennett trade would allow for Cincinnati to fill another position of need, such as pitching. However, keeping Gennett could prove to be beneficial for the Reds as well given the offensive production he has provided for the team last season and this season so far.
Last offseason, the Reds signed Eugenio Suarez to a new seven-year $66 million, it doesn’t look like Cincinnati will want to make a change so quickly, leaving Senzel in a state of limbo pertaining to his call-up to the majors. Senzel was invited to spring training by the team and spent a lot of time playing shortstop in that time, in addition to spending time working with one of Cincinnati’s all-time shortstops Barry Larkin. Jose Peraza was transitioned from second base to shortstop to fill the void left by Cozart leaving and to give Gennett a more permanent spot in the lineup. So far in 2018, Peraza has made 219 at-bats in 55 games, scoring 30 runs from 56 hits. On the downside, Peraza accounts for only two home runs with a .256 batting average and .292 on-base percentage.
To reiterate, trading Gennett would make sense because he holds the most value. However, he is making a strong argument for the Reds to sign him to a longer contract. So this is now becoming an addition by subtraction scenario. In the eyes of many, Peraza is not performing up to the hype or even standards of a major league player. It appears that trading Peraza would make more sense, as keeping Gennet would prove to be a valuable benefit for Cincinnati while also allowing Suarez to still be the third baseman and bring up their top prospect. With Alex Blandino being a bit of a surprise this year so far with his play, sharing the playing time with Senzel could prove to be extremely beneficial for the Reds while giving both young players a great opportunity to gain valuable playing experience at the major league level. Furthermore, it allows the front office to see what they currently have on the roster.