The shortstop market has evaporated. A market that once had a lot of options now has, well, not a lot of them. Didi Gregorius is the last guy out there who would seem to represent a true upgrade on the free agent market.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported late on Tuesday night that the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies were both focusing on bringing Didi Gregorius into the fold. Two teams, both in need of a shortstop, and there’s only one option of the caliber of player they are looking at remaining in free agency.

The Phillies have gone out and shown that they are serious. Philadelphia recently signed J.T Realmuto to a 5-year contract worth $115,500,000. The Reds, on the other hand, have made one-and-a-half free agent signings this offseason – inking pitcher Edgar Garcia to a deal for $600,000, and signing Kyle Farmer to a split contract after non-tendering him in December. Realmuto’s deal is worth more in one season than the entire National League Central division has spent in free agency all offseason combined.

The offseason, however, isn’t over. And the Reds are reportedly trying to get something done to bring Didi Gregorius into Cincinnati. But, it appears that they’ve tried to get other shortstops to sign this offseason and come up short. From Mark Sheldon of

We’ve had competitive offers out to people that we’ve liked,” general manager Nick Krall told on Wednesday. “I think we’ve been in a lot of different markets to find players that fit our club. We’ve ended up losing out on some guys. Some things didn’t go the way we were looking for.

They’re trying. But so far, they’ve failed to meet their stated goals. The market has been set. Andrelton Simmons signed a 1-year deal for $10,500,000. Marcus Semien signed a 1-year deal for $18,000,000. Didi Gregorius falls in line with those two players. If the Reds want to bring him in, it’s going to cost them somewhere in that range per year. Whether it’s going to require more than a 1-year offer at those prices per year is a question we don’t really know the answer to.

In the 2020 season, Didi Gregorius hit .284/.339/.488 in 60 games with the Phillies. He walked 15 times, struck out just 28 times, and homered 10 times. It was a nice rebound season after a disappointing 2019 where he hit just .238/.276/.441 in 82 games as he returned from having Tommy John surgery, and it was in line – rate wise, with what he hit in 2018 with the New York Yankees (124 OPS+ in 2018, 119 OPS+ in 2020).

The Marcels projection system, which can be found on the players pages at Baseball Reference, has a projection in 2021 for Didi Gregorius to hit .254/.315/.454 with 24 home runs. ZiPs, found at Fangraphs, projects a better outcome for Gregorius, with a .275/.321/.473 line that would include 22 home runs. Both of those lines represent huge upgrades over what is projected for any of the trio of Kyle Farmer, Jose Garcia, or Alex Blandino – who are the three internal options for Cincinnati at shortstop if they make no other moves.

The trade market is still there for exploration for Cincinnati if they need to go that route. But that route requires both cash to pay the incoming player, as well as player(s) to be traded in order to acquire someone. The Reds certainly have the prospects to make plenty of deals if they want to. At least to this point in time, though, they haven’t been able to make something happen. With less time until spring training starts, and a dwindling free agent market, they need to figure it out sooner rather than later if they want to meet the one publicly stated goal they made for the offseason.

41 Responses

  1. wizeman

    Just read Keith Laws Top 100 prospect list in The Athletic. Was a little better for the Reds. He had India as a possibility at Shortstop in a pinch.
    I really don’t want to pay Gregorius 2-30. Is there any thoughts at all on whether India has the chops to move over a spot.

    • Doug Gray

      My take: If they thought he could play shortstop, he’d have been playing shortstop. Instead he’s played second and third.

      • Michael P

        Doug, when will we see your top 25 prospects be released?

      • Doug Gray

        Midseason when there’s something new to talk about with all of the guys. I just didn’t feel comfortable making a new list this year given that we have limited data on about 50 guys (between the alternate site and instructs) and no real data on about 150 other guys who didn’t participate at either spot. I know a lot about the stuff that Jonathan India, Hunter Greene, and Nick Lodolo did this year. I know next to nothing on what guys like Jacob Heatherly or Mariel Bautista did. Maybe they took big steps forward on their own time and we just don’t really know. It just didn’t feel like I could do the kind of job I would like to do with the lack of information available to make a new list.

      • Michael P

        Understand your thought process. Was considering some of the new talent either in the International signings (Valde/Almontez) or via trades (Cionel Pérez). Also with a host of other top 100 lists such as MLB and Baseball America, didn’t know if that would make you update your order any. Also, I know you don’t do live videos anymore but a Q/A about prospects, who to watch, international focus, etc. would be really nice to listen too.

  2. Klugo

    Well, I really expected the Reds to make a knee-jerk reaction to the Lindor deal. That didn’t happen, obviously. They’ve gone to the car dealership with a number in their pocket and are sticking to their guns. For better or for worse.

    • Tracey

      For worse. We will never have a winner until current ownership group is run out of town!

  3. Still a Red

    $10 M for 1 year seemed reasonable. $18 for 1 year seemed too rich. I suspect Didi will stay in Phillie…altho the Reds may have a better chance at post-season than Phils.
    Looks like we will be platooning Farmer and Blandino.

  4. LDS

    I think the trade market is still a better option. I’d like to see them take a run at someone like Correa, more affordable than Didi, younger and not in the top 2 or 3 of next years FA class. Houston will likely extend him but may be open to a trade. Or Story with Colorado, though I suspect he’s more expensive than the Reds have an appetite for. But if they go with Farmer/Blandino, there’s no reason to take the team leadership seriously, from the owner on down.

  5. Redhaze

    Based on last season, Didi could be the team batting champ if he hits .275. If the DH is not used this season in the NL we cannot afford another weak bat in the lineup with Tucker and the pitchers spot. When will the Reds have a starting position player hit .300 or better for the season?

    • Doug Gray

      Less than 1 player per team hits .300 per year, among qualified hitters. So, theoretically in an even distribution (which there isn’t), it should happen roughly every other year.

      • Chris Mo

        So you’re saying we have been spoiled by having Votto in the lineup over the last decade +.

  6. Redhaze

    Trade Senzel, Mahle and Moustakas to the Rockies for Story. Sign Jackie Bradley for centerfield. Sign Jonathan Villar to play second base.

    • Redhaze

      Story, Winker, Castellanos, Suarez, Votto, Bradley, Villar, Stephenson. Solid lineup to win the division.

      • Buddman2006

        I had seen something about Chris Taylor from the dodgers. Solid numbers for what looks like not playing everyday. Wonder what it would take to land him in a trade.

    • Bob Purkey

      For 1 year of Story, who will never sign with the Reds long-term? LOL

      • Redhaze

        You can still trade Story at the trade deadline if it does not work.

    • Justin

      And sit a tee on the plate every fifth day?

    • Stock

      If the Reds were not willing to pay for Simmons they are not willing to pay for Story.

      Mahle was a stud last year once he incorporated the cutter. He has more trade value in today’s market than Story and will have even more come.

      Senzel is hard to value because he gets injured so much. Senzel stunk last year but his underlying stats tell a different story. His hard hit %, Pull %, GB% and FB% were very similar to Mike Yastrzemski and Mark Canha yet his BABIP was .104 -.167 lower. If you say his luck fall in between Yaz and Canha next year you add 7-8 hits.

      Adding 8 hits you get a BA of .300, an OBP of .351 and an OPS of .822 (assuming the same ISO). That is a pretty good player. I would not trade Senzel at his minimal value.

      • DaveCT

        I believe the best approach to Nick is to leave him alone and let him play CF. Agreed he needs to prove he can stay on the field. But I’d like to see what he can do when he is not learning a new position in the major leagues or having his hitting mechanics completely de-constructed and re-built in the very same season.

  7. Rob

    All seems bass ackward to me. We streamlined the pitching payroll (a bunch) so we could strengthen the offense (at shortstop in particular). OK and not OK. Now we are in a box. I dont honestly believe Didi is a smart play at $15M, or $12M. I would rather have Galvis or Igglias at $2M and spend the extra $12M in the pen. That probably isnt going to happen either.

    I am guessing now that it has to be a trade (or overpay Didi). But I swallow hard here. Yeah, Story would be a great 1 year option if Garcia is a year or so away. But what top prospect is that going to cost? India? Antone? I still think that is better than Didi or Farmer and a $10M bullpen piece. Or I guess the other option is the Nationals hotshot (Kieboom?) via a Suarez trade. But that may clog SS in the future but also give us another $11M to spend. ??? Just doesnt appear very well thought out or managed when this is susposedly your No. 1 priority move.

  8. enfueago

    I have always thought Didi made the most sense simply because over his career he has been a very good hitter and the reds need offense more than anything. Plus, he has hit well enough that his bat would play anywhere in the infield so Garcia then becomes the backup for multiple positions Didi then shifts to. It is no leap to imagine more games at first for Moustakis and Gregorius sliding to second as an example. I am aware his peripherals show disturbing trends but he still seems like a good bet to have two more quality offensive years in him. A return to form at the plate for Didi makes this team the favorite in the division. Pay him.

  9. JB

    If winning the NL Central is the goal then they have a chance. They have no shot at the World Series. I would break it down and trade pieces at the deadline. I hate rebuilds but I see it as the only way. Even with Didi or another shortstop, this team is not making it out of the first round. 5 years of bad judgements by ownership has cost this team. They can start now and tear it down or wait like they did before and their star players have lost trade value. Maybe I’m wrong but on paper they dont stack up to at least 4 teams in the NL. I would rather shoot for 2024 or 25 then be here in September discussing why they didnt already start the rebuild. Pains me after 57 years to say this. Ugh.

  10. Matthew ONeal

    How is Blandino’s defense at SS? He has good on base skills and, in a limited showing, had an almost 800 OPS in 2019. If his defense is good enough, and Didi is going to cost 2/30, I could get behind rolling with Blandino and see if his offense continues to show.

  11. Kevin

    In the mid 1970’s, Sparky Anderson approached Pete Rose to play third base. You know how that worked out. I expect to get roasted for saying this, but Suarez has the ability to play short and has done it at a decent level. Not like he can play third, but Moose can, and so can Senzel. The latter could result in Shogo playing center, and then you can put Castellanos in left, and Winker in right. Done, and no new players needed. They should put their focus on the closer spot – as nothing can be as demoralizing to a team as blown saves like the kind we saw from Raisel the last couple of years.

    • Stock

      Love your attitude Kevin but Suarez can not play SS. There once was a time where Suarez was a terrible SS. So bad that they moved him to 3B where he became a very good defensive 3B. But he gained weight. He gained a lot of weight. He gained so much weight that he went from being a very good defensive 3B to a below average defensive 3B. If he went back to SS he would be a mess.

      If you really want to go with the current roster Senzel and Farmer are the best options for SS from a defensive perspective.

      Also Castellanos’ vs. Winker’s arm suggests Castellanos should be in RF.

      • Kevin

        Good thought on RF vs LF, and I’ll take Senzel at short. Just trying to get as many bats in the lineup as possible.

  12. LDS

    I see Heyman has posted the Rosario story. Might be a decent pickup but is it a game changer?

    • Earmbrister

      Rosario might prove to be just as good as Dee Dee, at a fraction of the cost. As much as I wanted the Reds to sign one of the big three FA SS’s, they all had warts. If the Indians are looking to trade their middle infield depth for a reasonable offer of a prospect or two, I’d be a n favor.

    • Sabr Chris

      I’m not super excited by Rosario, but could be willing to give him a shot. Aquino and maybe a low level lottery pick prospect?

    • Justin

      I’ve come to believe that Heyman posts his opinions like we all do on here. It may happen, but most of what Heyman “reports” is opinion. His report that the Reds and Phillies were “likely” DiDi’ stop two choices, that’s not reporting, that’s positing.

    • Stock

      Rosario was far worse than Galvis and Farmer were last year.

      Galvis had an OPS of .712 and a UZR/150 at SS of 2.6 (WAR 0.5).
      Farmer had an OPS of .642 and a UZR/150 at SS of 11.3 (WAR 0.2).
      Rosario had an OPS of .643 and a UZR/150 at SS of 3.5 (WAR 0.1).

      The Reds would never do this but someone threw out the name Addison Russell the other day.

      • Hotto4Votto

        If they have to give up any prospect of note (like top 20) to get Rosario, I’d rather they just play Farmer. Won’t be much of a difference on the field and at the plate, and we’d keep our prospects. I don’t like either scenario. I still hope they try to get Didi on a two year deal in the 28-30m range. Outside of that, explore every other possible trade scenario.

  13. KenC

    Can someone explain to me why Blandino has any value on this team? I have never seen anything from him at the plate, and his defense does not offset his lack of offense.

  14. Doc

    Is that GM job in the northeast still open? I see at least a half dozen people here who have all the answers and should be applying.

    • Stock

      People throwing out ideas is not a bad thing.

  15. jmb

    I agree with those who say no to Didi. Last year it would have been great, but the Reds spent elsewhere and have to live with that. Move Suarez back to SS, or trade Senzel to the Indians for Gimenez, or trade Aquino to the Indians for Rosario (though he’s supposed to be a defensive liability).

  16. Jim m

    Cards just got a huge upgrade with the trade with the Rockies. Nolan Arenado.. Reds still sitting on thier hands… if they dont add a Story,Correa or DiDi.. shows ownership was lieing again and just got rid of alot of salary to blame covid.. funny how other teams without fans last year have no issue making moves to help thier teams?? Not counting the Pirates as the Reds without a bonafide upgrade at SS and losing two closers and Bauer will not he even close to the playoffs next year…if they screw this up.. just want Bob to sell to someone who hates losing instead of accepting it most of the time as owner of this team as Bob has!! Nothing but excuses