Scooter Gennett was picked up for absolutely nothing by the Cincinnati Reds. The Milwaukee Brewers felt that they would be better off by designating him for assignment after the 2016 season than to pay him $2.5M to play for them in 2017. The Reds felt that the infielder was worth that price and scooped him up on waivers. All that he’s done since then is hit .303/.351/.508 and become an All-Star for Cincinnati in 295 games played.
For Scooter Gennett being picked up by Cincinnati wasn’t just another chance. He was coming home, so-to-speak. He was born in Cincinnati and lived here in his early childhood before he moved to Florida. It’s been brought up time and time again that he would be more than open and willing to sign an extension with the Reds. And it has felt like in each of the last two seasons that the Reds have had him on the trade market at the deadline and the offseason and gotten no offers worth considering. If you find that as strange as I do, well, you’re not alone.
With that said, it doesn’t seem that the Cincinnati Reds are exactly looking to keep Scooter Gennett around long term. And he’s speaking out about it. John Fay has more than a few additional quotes in his article at The Cincinnati Enquirer, so be sure to go read that. Some of them you can definitely pick up the frustration, too.
“We’ve definitely opened it up,” Gennett said. “They know I want to play here. They know I enjoy playing on this team. I enjoy the coaching staff. I enjoy my teammates. They know all that. There’s nothing else to tell them at this point. It’s waiting for them to come back, which they have not. (We’ve) heard absolutely nothing. Zero.”
Scooter Gennett has been quite good for the Reds. I think that everyone can agree on that. He’s going to be a free agent after this season. And he will be entering his 30’s. This season he will play it at the age of 29 – still in his peak years. But as we’ve seen in the last two offseasons – teams are basically telling anyone “we aren’t paying you into your 30’s”, unless it’s going to be dirt cheap, or you happen to be an absolutely elite level player.
The problem with Scooter Gennett getting an extension in Cincinnati has a few different aspects to it. First is that the Reds seem to have options to play second base after Gennett would be a free agent. While Nick Senzel is vying for the starting gig in center field in 2019, he’s far more than capable of being a second baseman. And with multiple center field options that could very well be ready in 2020, that could slide Senzel to second base.
However, even if that plan doesn’t play out exactly that way and Nick Senzel remains in the outfield, another of the teams top prospects profiles well at the position. Jonathan India has played both third base and shortstop as a professional since signing in July of 2018. Third base is locked down by Eugenio Suarez, meaning that India’s going to have to play elsewhere. Shortstop likely isn’t in the cards except in emergency situations. That could leave second base as the ultimate destination. He probably wouldn’t be ready for opening day in 2020, but it’s not unrealistic to think he couldn’t be ready by mid-season of 2020, either. There’s some risk there given that he’s barely played in A-ball. But he’s also a top 5 draft pick out of the SEC who should move quickly.
And then of course there’s the money. When the market has seemingly told the Reds and Scooter Gennett that there’s not much interest in his services on the trade market, that probably means that teams aren’t going to be lining up to write big checks for his services either. We don’t know what kind of extension it is that Gennett is looking for. Whether we are talking about years or dollar totals.
What we do know, though, is that the Reds would probably have to spend at least $10M a year for a handful of years to sign Scooter Gennett to an extension. Is he worth that on the market? Yeah, he probably is – even in this weird market we’ve seen transitioned to. For Cincinnati, though, they are looking at their other options that they already have and see that they could have some good ones. And those ones would cost significantly less money. And rightly or wrongly, probably won’t be hitting a decline part of their career, either.
There’s a segment of the Reds fanbase that is going to be quite upset if the Reds let Scooter Gennett walk away in free agency. Especially since he’s expressed his interest in re-signing. He may very well be the most popular player in Cincinnati. And that makes sense. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the team should bring him back, though.
But what if the Reds were to think about bringing him back? That seems like a bit of a stretch given how the first 800 words of this article have played out. Things can change, though. Scooter Gennett wants to stick around. And if the market truly is depressed, not only for his services, but the services of players who are non-super stars, things could make a whole lot of sense to try and make an extension work. If the price is right, and the years are right, AND Nick Senzel shows he can play center field during the year, the stars in the sky could align to make a possible extension make sense for all parties.
Photo Credit: Hayden Schiff. Licensing for the photo can be found here.