In the days leading up to Opening Day, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be previewing The State Of The Reds at every single position on the field. Check out the previous installments of our Redleg Nation 2018 Season Preview series:
Third base is perhaps the place the Reds can feel most certain they’ll get good production, this side of Joey Votto. There is more high-end, advanced depth at third than anywhere else in the Reds organization. Also, with the exception of the current starter, all the players here are also in the mix at other spots around the diamond. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s good to be flexible. But it also means that, other than Eugenio, these guys have all been written about by my esteemed colleagues, whose work, one assumes, you have already enjoyed.
Eugenio Suarez. Duh. Suarez is the second-best player on the Reds right now and he’s not going anywhere. He seems to now be a very good bet for 20+ HRs and a well above-average OBP while also providing high-quality defense at third. Oh, and he’s still just 26 years old. It is interesting, however, to see how the offseason went with Suarez – that is, to arbitration. Reds general manager Dick Williams indicated that the Reds tried to talk extension and Suarez wasn’t ready to do that. Maybe their initial overtures were low or maybe Suarez wants another excellent year under his belt before negotiating or maybe he knows that he’ll have just turned 29 when he hits free agency and wants the chance to see what happens on the open market. We don’t know the answers here, but it does raise at least some questions about the future.
Now, it gets interesting and now we talk depth. The Reds will still have control of Suarez at this point, but other factors could come into play. If the Reds are a competitive team, Suarez likely stays where he is. If they aren’t? Well, if there’s still no extension in the works, Suarez may well find himself traded elsewhere. In which case, it gets more interesting.
Nick Senzel could start at third right now. For the moment, it seems he’s making a run at shortstop. If that doesn’t work, he’ll slide over to second, where the Reds have a lot of depth.
Dilson Herrera plays second (when his shoulder lets him). If he gets over the injury finally and Senzel sticks at short, he may establish himself at second. But Shed Long is also coming. And if he keeps coming what then?
The point is that any of the current second base candidates except Gennett could eventually find themselves over at the hot corner depending on what happens with Geno. I’d love to see him locked up forever, of course, but that might not happen. If it doesn’t, the Reds will still probably be okay there.
Alex Blandino is not a shortstop. I promise you. I like him, but he just isn’t a shortstop. He is, however, a solid second baseman and a decent third baseman. He can hit and he’s 25. He probably has something like a Todd Frazier ceiling in terms of WAR (Frazier, you’ll note, debuted in the majors at 25). The age thing does matter and it’s something not enough people pay attention to. A 25-year-old in AAA is a lot different than a 22-year-old in AAA. Still, I’d be pretty surprised if Blandino couldn’t manage some 2-3 WAR seasons given a starting gig. He’s just not the kind of player you sign to a long-term deal. (Note that Suarez is only a little more than a year older than Blandino and already has almost 2000 MLB plate appearances.)
Brandon Dixon is older than Blandino and not as good. He hits the ball hard, but doesn’t have good plate discipline. If he makes the team, it’s because the Reds want Blandino playing every day in the minors. If Dixon is getting regular playing time, chances are something has gone pretty wrong.
The Reds figure to have someone quite capable at third for the foreseeable future. Things can always go wrong, of course, but this is a strong position with several players available who are both young and advanced and it should be a point of strength for the Reds for a long time.
I like Eugenio Suarez a lot. A really stand up guy, good player, works hard, has a great player ethic.
If they don’t sign him to a long term contract by mid – season, they should trade him and give the position to Senzel. Otherwise he walks and the Reds have nothing.
Bring up the young guys (Blandino, Dixon) and let them play and actually develop some major league value. Stop monkeying around with old players like Gosselin and Pennington. They offer nothing of future value. Just occupying space.
Uh, the Reds have three years of control on Suarez, through 2020. They have plenty of time to figure out how to play both Senzel and Suarez, before worrying about Suarez “walking.” Senzel will likely end up at second, short or even centerfield.
Pennington and Revere are – at most – subs. If any starter went down, someone would be called up to take their place. Neither of those guys are ever going to get starter-level playing time. The idea is that you keep your players who are starter-quality playing everyday and use more marginal players as your bench guys.
That kind of thinking got the Reds into this position in the first place, in part.
Under Jocketty, there was NO young player promotion or development at the ML level for backup players. Let’s get Skip Schumacher!
Really, if the Reds are rebuilding, I don’t see any value in Veteran Presence, a property often over valued.
Let’s keep Ben Revere and let Phil Ervin get playing time at AAA. Forward thinking.
I’m not sure I’d call Revere washed up. Like Scooter, Revere is an excellent signing. The guy hit .336 with a .378 obp in the 2nd half last season, with an added 12 stolen bases. I’m not sure what the problem here is with some, when it comes to signing veterans. Yes, I want young guys starting, but veterans on the bench, who are PRODUCTIVE, are outstanding additions. Revere had a terrible 2016 season, and outside that, he’s had an excellent career. We stole Revere, same way we stole Scooter.
Steve, I do care about power, but this team isn’t in a short supply of power. I also care about walks, but in the end, I don’t care how you get on base, as long as you do it. Revere carried an .378 OBP second half of last season. I see that as a solid rate of getting on base. Except for 2016, Revere has been solid at getting on base and steals 30 plus bags a year. As for his defense, again, he’s always been solid, except for last season. I think he will be fine in a smaller ballpark. Having said all that, I’m not suggesting he be the starting CFer, but I have no problem with a veteran on the bench that may be able to help some of the younger guys, including Billy Hamilton. And yes, Scooter was picked up off the scrap heap. Was he not dumped by the Brewers? The difference is, the Reds didn’t want to take a chance of not getting him, so they gave him a MLB contract right away. Again though, we have folks in here complaining that Scooter was given the playing time that he was given. I’m all about the young guys, and finding the needs with them, but at the same time, it’s important to field a team that can win games, and normally you don’t fill a whole bench with young prospects. Revere can fill a need. He can hit late in a game against closers, being a veteran with some legitimate success, and he can pinch run too. Not sure a bench full of prospects to use late in a game against the opposing closer is the best thing for this team and it’s prospects.
I think the possible extension for Suarez will be something interesting to watch.
The Reds are likely looking for something like a 5 year contract buying out his 2019 and 2020 arbitration years as well as his potential free agent years of 2021-2023. The Reds would be locking a productive player up through his prime.
Suarez could be looking at it though as delaying free agency until he is 32 years old, rather than 29. Looking at the current free-agent landscape though, hoping for a big free agent contract at 32 might not seem like a great idea.
I hope Suarez is willing to talk extension soon and we can get that done.
I would like to see blandino make the team and play against lefthanders at 2b and fill in at SS and 3B. He could probably get around 200 at bats if managed well. Do you think that is enough at bats for that to be best for Blandino? or is it best for Blandino to go back to AAA and bat every day?
I just looked for a comp for Blandino:
Matt Carpenter, here is carpenter’s worst offensive season:
G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
158 709 595 99 162 33 2 8 59 5 3 95 111 .272 .375 .375 .750
He had a -1 dwar and yielded 2.9 war.
I love Suarez. I do. But these are the dangerous extensions imho. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not Kris Bryant or Adrian Beltre. But heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s better than most… for now. If heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll accept jay Bruce money then yes extend him. But if he wants Kris Bryant money I say heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s too risky to regress. I dunno.
Recent MLB history would suggest that the Reds should look to trade Suarez this coming off-season, if he won’t agree to a contract extension.
Waiting until the player is entering his final contracted season to trade him greatly lessens the return and number of potential suitors. The Pirates with McCutchen and the Orioles with Machado are the latest to suffer by not finalizing a deal sooner.
The Suarez situation is an intriguing, hidden drama. Both sides can make a case for extending or walking away. If Suarez is the 2.4 WAR player or less in 2018 as Steamer projects, maybe the Reds do better long-term by trading him and installing Senzel.
If he is 3 WAR or better, as ZIPS predicts, Suarez can legimately start thinking about being the best FA 3B in 2021, ahead of Jake Lamb.
Either way, the optics of the Reds taking him to trial in arbitration over 450K are still poor. Heck of a way to treat your “second-best player.”
What do you guys think about Dixon? He’s really impressed me this spring. I hope he gets a chance..
Giant hole in his swing. Can hit the ball a mile, but he Ks too much and walks too little. Don’t be persuaded by a few good spring games. He’s depth, but not much more.
I’ve noticed in the minors that he is very streaky.