The Cincinnati Reds are returning most of their starting nine from the 2020 season. Depending on how you feel about who was the “starter” at shortstop, the entire infield could return. Freddy Galvis and Jose Garcia both got some extended time at the position during the season, but after Garcia struggled at the plate, Galvis seemed to get the majority of the playing time at the end. He’s a free agent. Garcia will begin the 2021 season a week before turning 23-years-old and could still use some time in the minor leagues.

Behind the plate the organization has Tucker Barnhart, Curt Casali, and Tyler Stephenson. At first, second, and third the team is locked in long term with Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas, and Eugenio Suárez. That really leaves shortstop as the only infield position it would seem that the Reds could address this offseason.

Perhaps the team feels like Jose Garcia could be the guy for 2021, but without having any insurance there it would be a pretty big gamble given that Garcia hit .194/.206/.194 with one walk and 26 strikeouts this past season. Kyle Farmer could be an option for the Reds internally, but he’s not exactly someone that a contending team should be looking at as option A for starting shortstop.

The class of free agents has some quality options at shortstop. Old friend, and target of last offseason, Didi Gregorius could be an option. He’ll be 31-years-old when the season begins in 2021. He will also likely require more than a one year contract, though the uncertainty of the way teams will go forward with free agency after an unprecedented 2020 campaign, it’s tougher to say than most past offseasons. Gregorius played in all 60 games for the Phillies this year and he hit .284/.339/.488 for an .827 OPS and a 119 OPS+.

After a big 2019 season, Marcus Semien had a down year in 2020 with Oakland. Coming off of a year in which he hit .285/.369/.522 with 83 extra-base hits, Semien went out and hit .223/.305/.374 in 53 games during the past season. The 2019 season was clearly the historical outlier for Semien, who had never had a 100 OPS+ in his career before 2019’s 139 mark. He’s been roughly a league average hitting since 2015, so he could provide a solid option with potential upside if you think he can get closer to the 2019 version of himself.

One of the best defensive shortstops in recent memory, if not longer, Andrelton Simmons will be a free agent following the World Series. He’s been a solid to better hitter over the last five seasons, with a high point coming in 2018 and a low point coming in 2019. Last season he played in 30 games for the Angels and hit .297/.346/.356. He’ll be 31-years-old next season.

Much like Marcus Semien, Jonathan Villar is coming off of a 2020 season that was a big step backwards from where he was in 2019. With the Orioles in 2019 he hit .274/.339/.453 with 33 doubles, 5 triples, 24 homers, and 40 steals. But in his 2020 season split between Miami and Toronto he hit just .232/.301/.292 with two home runs and 16 steals.

And then there’s Korean shortstop Ha-Seong Kim, who we wrote about last week as a potential option. Among the potentially available free agents, he would seem to be the one that would require the longest deal. He’s also the youngest of the group by a wide margin – he’ll be 25-years-old next season. Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections think that he’s going to be pretty good, too, projecting 3.5-3.9 WAR each of the next five seasons if he leaves the KBO and joins Major League Baseball.

Of course, the Reds could also attempt to bring back Freddy Galvis. He doesn’t stand out from the crowd, but he’s a big league caliber shortstop who has a little bit of pop and can handle the position defensively.

There are a lot of ways that Cincinnati could go if they chose to enter free agency and look for a shortstop. Perhaps a “buy low and get upside” option is there with either Marcus Semien or Jonathan Villar – but there’s always risk when you are buying low. Didi Gregorius or Ha-Seong Kim could be more of a “sort-of-long-term” kind of option where things feel a little bit safer on both an offensive and defensive side of things. Andrelton Simmons kind of falls in the middle. He’s never hit at his peak like Semien, Villar, or Gregorius, but he’s on a different level defensively, too, and his bat has been solid, but unspectacular for his time in Los Angeles (2016-2020).

A lot of where the Reds decide to go is going to likely depend on two factors: What they feel about Jose Garcia and how soon they believe he can be ready and whether or not there’s a potential trade candidate out there that makes sense – be it short term or long term.

While we’re going to look at other positions on the team over the next two weeks as things lead into free agency, shortstop is the position that feels like it’s the most important for the Reds to decide on.

33 Responses

  1. LDS

    With the exception of Villar and Kim, wouldn’t these options likely require multi-year contracts exceeding Castellanos and Moustakas or $10+ million more than Galvis? What’s the FO’s appetite for that kind of spending? Still any of these options are preferable, in my opinion, to gutting the organization to get Lindor.

    • Doug Gray

      I’ve been wrong before, but I’d be beyond shocked if any of these guys got $16M+ for multiple years.

      • LDS

        You’re far more plugged in than I. I was simply going by last year’s contract. Thanks.

  2. Mark Moore

    Personally just not sold on a big $$ splash, especially given the uncertainty of MLB after 2021. I agree we need somebody to hold down SS for next year and then it’s probably Garcia time (assuming a somewhat regular season and time at AA/AAA for him next year.

    Nothing long-term, please.

    I’m also one who wants the permanent DH, move Joey there, move Moose to 1B, and figure out what 2B looks like (maybe Farmer, maybe somebody else, not Senzel).

    We were coming together a bit in the end. I think our SP core will be fine (I want Mikey Biceps as part of it). Castellanos will play at least one more year in Red. Shogo will adjust as we move into 2021. Winker may have more trade value than playing value.

    Let the Hotstove Season begin!

    Oh, and Go Rays!!

    • LDS

      I’m not a DH fan and hope it isn’t continued this year. I think it’s time for Votto to throw in the towel. With Bauer & Descalifani leaving, I suspect the rotation has some big holes to fill. Mahle can possibly plug one of them. Lorenzen & Antone, while doing well at times, still have to prove themselves. Lodolo isn’t ready. Greene may never be, etc. I agree, trade Winker, if they can. But it should be an interesting off season. If nothing else, it will tell us if the FO is serious about winning. Though if they were, Bell & most of his coaching staff would already be gone.

      • Tom Reeves

        Joey Votto had the 59th best OPS in MLB in 2020 at .800. He was 48th in OBP. He was 12th in BB and 40th in HRs.

        At his age, he not going to be MVP Joey Votto anymore but he’s still better than the vast majority of players. That’s not yet a player who hangs it up with a few $20m+ seasons left to go.

    • Michael Martin

      First base might be the biggest weakness as long as Votto is there. His fielding is laughable. Now his hitting is anemic. What to do about him and his albatross of a contract. Winkler? Trade him! His value projects to continue to sink. It’s just a poorly constructed squad..makes poor contact, runs like a sloth, can’t field or throw well. Starting pitching remains the strength..not sure what to with Iggy..he did have trade value…it too has fallen dramatically. Not sold on Bell…just not a lot of promise ahead

  3. indydoug

    Why is everybody so down on Winker, especially if DH is here to stay? He was BY FAR the Reds best hitter last year, with an OPS+ of 142 and a career OPS+ of 123. And he’s still relatively cheap. Put him in the #3 hole and leave him ther.

    • LDS

      Because he had one good streak and was below average the rest of the time.

      • indyDoug

        Look at his career and so if you’re streaky and your end of the year stats are 42% better than the rest of MLB players you suck?

      • Swayback8

        I personally don’t mind trading just about anyone on the team. However I don’t want to trade Winker just to trade him, I would over value him and look for a package that would make the team better at two positions.

      • Michael E

        Trade anyone and everyone that doesn’t hit doubles. The best hitting teams hit lots of doubles. The Reds are HRs and Ks and ground outs and pop outs and singles and then doubles. Doubles are a strong sign of hitting line drives hard, not lofting fly balls (lots of pop flys) and uppercutting topping pitches into ground balls.

        Focus on leading the league in doubles and the hitting woes will be cured.

        2020 – ranking dead last at 1.24
        2019 ranking 29 of 30 teams at 1.45

      • Michael E

        In 1990, the Reds were 4th overall in doubles at 284.

      • Michael E

        We got Castellanos, so that was a good idea, since he lead league in doubles in 2019. We need to get another player (or two) in the top 20 in doubles and then we’ll be on our way.

        We do need to find a pitching coach that believes in slightly more leveled (slight uppercut) swings and more horizontal strike zone time with the bat. Maybe run drills to see which player can hit the most consecutive balls out of the infield, but not higher than 30 feet off the ground. Something to encourage raking line drive after line drive.

      • Swayback8

        Doubles aren’t as easy to hit in GABP. Detroit’s large dimensions was a big reason for how many doubles he hits. A lot of those hits don’t find the gap in GABP.

      • Bill J

        Michael E, you forgot walks go before singles.

  4. FreeHouse

    Package Nick Senzel in a trade for some pitching, Sign Free Agents Springer and Simien and problem solved lol

  5. KYpodman

    Doug, wasn’t Correa (Astros) a trade potential last year when there was trade discussions about the shortstop position and with Lindor? I would definitely kick the tires on that one if I was the front office. He is a “professional” hitter, a team leader, and above average fielder in my opinion. He could be one of those “puzzle pieces” that completes the picture for this team for next year and beyond. Thoughts?

    • Doug Gray

      I do recall at one point there was a rumor that he could have potentially been available, yes.

  6. Rut

    The Reds seem pretty locked in salary wise, doubt they make a big splash signing.

    I do think a trade would be good to shake things up a bit for the team, but do not really have any guys that have good value right now. Senzel injured, maybe Winker could fetch something but not sure who would be an adequate replacement for his bat.

    My guess is that any $$ spent by the Reds will go to a starting pitcher

  7. Charlie Waffles

    Just not Galvis. Let Freddy move on. Simmons is the one to look at. He isn’t going to be a high $$ signing. Or long on years. He has a good bat, usually getting on base at a .350 clip, and as stated on another level defensively. That is just what the Reds need at SS. I think 2 years at $17MM to $20MM could get his signature. Plus it fits into the when will Garcia be ready narrative. It also gives a chance for Garcia, a possible defensive whiz, to learn from a genuine defensive whiz.

    • Kevin Curl

      Reds should have resigned Iglesias at SS instead of going with weak hitting Galvis . Iglesias was a good fielder and hitter he hit .288 with Reds and .363 with Orioles this season.

      • JayTheRed

        I too would have killed to have Iggy’s hitting skillset instead of Galvis.

      • TR

        It was a strange move to not resign Jose Iglesias, the smooth fielding shortstop, after the season he had in 2019, and, as a fellow Cuban, he would have been a good mentor for young Garcia, in a year or so, to take over the position. It seems to me that Galvis homerun potential was more valued.

  8. SultanofSwaff

    Let Bauer walk and use that money to sign Kim or trade for the final controllable season of Trevor Story. Revenue neutral, huge offensive upgrade either way. Personally, I’d go for Kim with the idea of shifting him to 3B. Although we see it already, it will be obvious to the front office that Votto will be done as an everyday 1B by next year and we can shift Geno over or let him and Moose rotate between 1B and DH.

  9. Davy13

    Forget the FA route and trade for Lindor! Loosen the purse strings and sign Bauer for the one-year and see (hopefully) how a full 2021 season goes. If it goes badly, then tear it all down and rebuild it again!

  10. Jim

    Re-sign Bauer Please. 40 starts a year plus a few bucks?
    Need a SS. I think we would all be happy if he hit .250 10 hr 50 rbi and a high % of steal attempts.
    Free Agents:
    Siemen. Lot of players come out flat after an exceptional year. Looked great in playoffs.
    Didi. 2 yrs only.
    Simmons. Cincy is a step up from Angels.
    C’mon Galvis and let’s go Goodyear if NOTHING else.

  11. Doc

    For me, it is more important to first decide/define how the organization is going to function. Plug holes and build payroll with older guys, or Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Miami model of go with the young guys and let them mature on the fly. I prefer the latter for the Reds market, but it’s more important that they decide how they want to do business and then plan accordingly and make decisions consistently.

    Secondly, I would place little to no credence in the 2020 offense. Yes, it was pitiful, but the Reds were not an offensive juggernaut the first half of 2019 either. Seems to be their m.o. I would not tear it up in 2021. If 2021 has Castellanos and Moose moving closer to the back of their cards, Akiyama hitting better with more familiarity with the league, and Senzel stays on the field, then the offense should be better. Heck, even Garcia may well be better over a full year than the Garcia/Galvis duo was in 2020.

    I would rather see a lineup of young, enthusiastic hard working types than what we have right now. But then, I only see them in spring training.

  12. Oldtimer

    Way different time and era (and circumstances) but Leo Cardenas came up to Reds in 1960. Reds let Eddie Kasko be placeholder at SS in 1961 until Cardenas was fully ready in 1962.

    Perhaps Ed Farmer SS in 2021 with Garcia as backup (like Reds in 1961). Then Garcia regular SS in 2022.


  13. Enfuego

    Some of these guys could be surprisingly cheap with an opt out after one year simply because the market is unknown and likely down. Needs to be a hit first player who can sub/platoon at 2nd for depth and to allow moustakas or the signee to split time with votto.

  14. Daytonian

    Actually, the j b if decision us what the Reds (and Votto) decide you do at first base. If the Reds let the contract determine their decision, we’ll…

    • Daytonian

      The big decision is what the Reds decide to do at first base. Darn that small keyboard.