On Monday afternoon the news broke that the San Diego Padres were the victors in the bidding war/negotiations with Korean shortstop Ha-seong Kim. The Cincinnati Reds were seen as a potential suitor for the shortstop, and there had been some lower-level rumors floating around that they were involved. At the end of the day it was the Padres who got the deal done, though, as first reported by Dennis Lin of The Athletic.
Cincinnati’s priority, at least publicly stated, this offseason is to find a shortstop. Whether that’s for the 2021 season only, or for the foreseeable future, we aren’t entirely sure. As has been said many times on the digital pages here at Redleg Nation, though, having too much talent is never a problem.
In a free agent market with multiple quality shortstop options, the first domino to fall was Ha-seong Kim. That’s not entirely surprising. He’s the youngest of the group, and there was a deadline in order to sign him. Now that he’s off of the board, though, the rest of the shortstop market could get moving. The teams who were in on Kim and lost out now have to begin looking at other options.
The trade market is going to be there, but you don’t really know who is and isn’t available there. We’ve got rumors that superstars like Francisco Lindor and Trevor Story could be available. It’s the free agent market that should see more traction, though. Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, and Marcus Semien are the top of the crop among free agents.
Without knowing what it would take to sign each player, both in terms of dollars and years, it’s tough to say who would be the best fit for the Cincinnati Reds. But, if the organization is going to get a shortstop on the free agent market, these are the three guys they are likely wanting to focus on. When looking only at the 2021 season, here’s what the ZiPS projections from Dan Szymborski project for each of the three players:
ZiPS is clearly in favor of Marcus Semien, who has a comp in the system to former Reds bench coach Jay Bell as his #1 for the 2021 campaign. Gregorius and Semien are both projected to hit well while playing solid defense. Simmons, on the flip side, isn’t really expected to hit much, but is expected to be among the best defensive players in the game and do so at a premium defensive position.
If the Reds, like other teams were waiting to see where they stood with Ha-seong Kim, now they know. It’s time to move forward to the next option and see what can be accomplished. If the premise it to improve the offense, then Simmons is the guy you want to avoid among the three options. But if you have some faith that the offense will come around as expected in 2021, then maybe you try to bolster your defense at shortstop with a guy like Simmons to help make up some ground on the fact that you aren’t (likely) bringing back Trevor Bauer and the team is going to give up more runs as a side effect to that.
There’s still time between now and the start of spring training to get some things figured out. But the sooner that Cincinnati can land their shortstop for 2021, the easier it will be to figure out the rest of the things that they need to do in order to get their team in the best position to win.