Ah, Scooter Gennett – remember that guy? The Reds All-Star second baseman has been kind of lost in the shuffle due to the groin injury he obtained in spring training. Couple that with the fact that Derek Dietrich has been performing pretty dang well at second base and you can see how Scooter has become somewhat of an afterthought.
Amidst the trade rumors and rumblings that the Reds didn’t have much of an interest in resigning him, the future at second base looks rather dicey when Scooter hits the free agent market after this year. Many thought that Nick Senzel was going to be Scooters long term replacement at second base, but with him cemented in center field for the foreseeable future, it kind of changes things.
Although his production has been replaced to SOME extent, it’s important to remember the value that Scooter has. He slashed .303/.351/.508 over the past two years, was a 4.2 WAR player in 2018, and had an OPS of .847. Scooter was the second best second baseman in the NL last year when taking into account pretty much every offensive metric.
So, who could take over for Scooter after this year? Well, the current infielders consist of:
Derek Dietrich – Free agent in 2021, 29 years old
Jose Iglesias – Free agent in 2020, 29 years old
Jose Peraza – Free agent in 2023, 25 years old
Scooter Gennett – Free agent in 2020, 29 years old
Kyle Farmer – Free agent 2025, 28 years old
The only three infielders currently signed beyond this year are Jose Peraza, Derek Dietrich, and Kyle Farmer. Although our favorite bee keeper is currently sporting a ridiculous .999 OPS through the first 38 games of this year, odds are Dietrich is eventually going to gravitate back to his career norm of around a .750 OPS. Jose Peraza on the other hand has struggled mightily to start the year and has been wildly inconsistent over the course of his career. The upside with Peraza is how young he is. Kyle Farmer is a bench piece.
Another thing to consider is how the arrival of prospect Taylor Trammell or the addition of another outfielder could shift Senzel to second base after this year. It’s a very abstract scenario, and the kind of roster uncertainty that you probably don’t want to go into the 2020 season with, but it’s a possibility.
So, Jose Peraza , Kyle Farmer, and Derek Dietrich are likely going to be in the Reds’ organization some way or another next year. What the Reds do with the other infielders, especially at second base, is up for debate. If it were me, I would explore a reasonable, short-ish extension for Scooter Gennett – pending how well he plays and comes back from injury the rest of the year. Other than Senzel, I’m just not sure I completely trust anyone else the Reds currently have on their roster as an every day big league second basemen going forward. Dietrich is a nice bench piece to have, but in no way is he the quality of player that Scooter Gennett has shown to be over a consistent amount of time.
I know both parties have to agree to an extension, and Scooter won’t just accept anything thrown his way, but he’s shown a desire to stay in the Reds organization. Couple that with the fact that MLB free agents just aren’t getting the kind of coin that they used to and it’s not far fetched to believe that Scooter could be had for a sensible contract extension.
There’s no telling how effective Scooter is going to be when he actually returns from injury. It’ll be interesting to see how the Reds split time with him, Dietrich, and Peraza at second base. In my opinion, as long as he’s healthy and producing, there’s no question that Scooter should see the most amount of playing time out of the three. The future at second base is a question mark, hopefully Scooter can be the answer.
Photo Credit: Hayden Schiff. Licensing for the photo can be found here.