The Cincinnati Reds stated early in the offseason that they planned to find a shortstop for the 2021 season. When the offseason began, the market had plenty of options in free agency. Korean star Ha-seong Kim was being posted and coming to the US. Didi Gregorius, Marcus Semien, and Andrelton Simmons were at the top of the free agent market among established big leaguers, and then you had Freddy Galvis, who was looking at a lower dollar deal.
On Tuesday night three of those players came off of the board. Freddy Galvis signed with the Baltimore Orioles first. Marcus Semien went next, signing a 1-year deal for $18,000,000 with the Toronto Blue Jays. And then it was Andrelton Simmons who signed a 1-year deal for $10,500,000 with the Minnesota Twins. Kim signed earlier in the offseason. That leaves Didi Gregorius as the lone shortstop left worth going after among the free agents for the Cincinnati Reds. And they aren’t alone, either. Bob Nightengale of USA Today says that the Reds, along with the Philadelphia Phillies are focusing on bringing Gregorius into the fold.
The free agent market is not the only way that Cincinnati can get a shortstop for 2021. The trade market is also an option. It’s harder to know exactly who is available there than in free agency. And unlike free agency, you not only have to pay the player, but you also have to trade talent away in order to add a player.
The Reds find themselves in a bad situation. They decided that Jose Garcia needs more time in the minor leagues after he posted a .400 OPS in 67 at-bats in the Major Leagues this season. Kyle Farmer re-signed a split contract with the team after being non-tendered in December, but he’s never been an every day player and he most certainly has never been much of a regular shortstop anywhere in his professional career. In the Major Leagues he’s played 86.2 innings at the position and he’ll be 30 in the upcoming season. As things sit right now, those seem to be their two options from an internal standpoint.
Whether it’s going to be Didi Gregorius, or someone on the trade market, it’s clear: Cincinnati is running out of both options and time to find their starting shortstop for the 2021 season. Gregorius is projected to hit .275/.321/.473 in the 2021 season. The drop from there to Kyle Farmer or Jose Garcia is stark. ZiPS projects Farmer to hit .244/.297/.366, and just .220/.264/.316 for Garcia. While ZiPS is just a projection system, not a “written in stone” system (which would defeat the purpose of playing the games), the Reds offense isn’t exactly one that projects well. Gregorius would be a positive boost, and not adding him and just going with internal options is likely a big time downgrade for an offense that was already looking like one that could struggle.