The Cincinnati Reds still don’t have a shortstop for the 2021 season. And spring training is merely weeks away at this point. The rumor over the weekend was that the team was signing Jonathan Villar, but that has not happened as of the writing of this article. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Reds are still looking for a shortstop today, and they’ve been considering the trade market to find an answer.

On top of considering signing Jonathan Villar, Jon Heyman is reporting that the team has also considered trades for Amed Rosario, now with Cleveland after being traded from the New York Mets in the deal for Francisco Lindor, and Willy Adames of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Amed Rosario or Willy Adames would likely represent a true step up from the current in-house options at shortstop. Both have upside that only Jose Garcia has from the current crew, but Garcia almost assuredly isn’t ready to reach that upside out of the gate in 2021 if what we saw in 2020 was an indication. That’s not a knock on Garcia – he was making the jump from Advanced-A and was simply being asked to do something that in normal circumstances just wouldn’t be asked of other players in his position.

Unlike signing Jonathan Villar, acquiring Amed Rosario or Willy Adames would lock up a shortstop for several years. Villar, coming off of a very poor season in 2020, isn’t likely going to land more than a 1-year deal (and that’s what the rumors over the weekend suggested he was going to sign). Rosario, who did struggle quite a bit in 2020, is locked up under team control through the 2023 season. Adames has an extra year of team control beyond that and is coming off of a season in which he hit .259/.332/.481 for the Rays at age 24.

Making a trade is going to be more expensive than simply signing Jonathan Villar. Adames won’t reach arbitration until the 2022 season, so he will make less money, but he’s also going to require giving up valuable players in trade to acquire. While Tampa Bay may be looking to move him in order to make room for Wander Franco, the number one prospect in baseball two years in a row, they understand how good Adames is and won’t just be giving him away. Cleveland has a little bit less leverage in trading Rosario, but they don’t have to move him to clear a spot for someone like Franco, either. They’ve got a glut of middle infielders, though, and Rosario could bring back some quality in trade.

If the organization could land a trade for Willy Adames or Amed Rosario it would probably put a little more faith into the team from the fan base. Between the internal options the team has now, or even including Jonathan Villar – none of those players has been an every day shortstop in the big leagues in years, and some of them have never been that. Adames or Rosario are true shortstops who have played there on a daily basis for years in the big leagues.

We’re all still in a wait-and-see mode with what the Reds will do with the shortstop position. One thing is pretty clear, though: Cincinnati missed the good options in free agency and if there’s going to be an acquisition for a shortstop that represents a true upgrade it’s going to have to come via a trade.

56 Responses

  1. west larry

    I hope the reds sign Villar. Teams know how badly the reds need a shortstop, and will ask for multiple prospects for one in a trade. I’d rather sign Villar for two years, and play for a year or a year and a half to give Garcia a chance to develop his hitting skills.

    • W.Lackey

      As in years past the Reds will do nothing to land. SS. Just look at how many SS they have let pass thru their fingers. The Reds have enough money and/or enough to make a trade. But as usual the Reds will come up with more excuses not to do anything will happen again. Every year the Reds Front Office is really terrible. If they do nothing about the SS situation they will finish in last place and may win 50 or 60 games. I wish some Reds fan would explain why they operate like they do. This tells me that Castellini really runs the Front Office. Oh well another dismal season. Surely the Reds will get a SS soon, surely they aren’t this stupid????

      • Matt WI

        Since letting go of Cozart (who never matched his Reds production ever again), who do you feel the Reds have had at SS that they really shouldn’t have let go of, or “let through their fingers?”

        Or do you mean not being more assertive filling the position with a real free agent/trade target?

      • Doug Gray

        In 2018 Cozart had an 81 OPS+ with the Angels. That’s pretty much in line with his line from 2012-2016 when he had an 82 OPS+ with the Reds. His 2017 season was the outlier when he posted a 140 OPS+.

      • Chris

        WL, the reds signed a ton last year, so I am not following on “ever year the Reds front office is really terrible”. Although the situation is far from ideal, I don’t see a lot out there that would have a dramatic impact for the Reds (at an affordable price).

      • jmb

        Cozart was a mistake. They should have traded him and kept Didi instead (though that’s easy to say after the fact). I’m just ecstatic the Reds didn’t sign Cozart to an extension. What happened with the guy? He signed with the Angels for more than he was worth (the Angels often do that) and did NOTHING. Eventually, the Angels gave up a first round draft pick to get the Giants to take Cozart’s contract off their hands.

      • Tom

        Bunk. The Reds are more than a SS away from contending and even if they do not land a SS, they will not lose over 100 games. With their starting 8, they will be in 4th place ahead of the rebuilding Pirates who are really going to be bad. Probably win in neighborhood of 70-75 games.

    • Bill J

      It would seem to me if they trade for Rosario or Adames they don’t have the faith that Garcia will be as good as they want us to believe.

      • TheCoastMan

        Good point. I prefer to either sign Villar or roll with the options we have now and let’s see what we have in Garcia after a full year in AAA. Platoon the current options if need be since we now have Gordon in the mix, although he hasn’t played steady SS in a while. The 2 words combined that scare the daylights out of me are, “Reds” and “trade.” I just have a feeling we would get fleeced for Adames and especially Rosario, who doesn’t impress me at all as a full time, long term option.

      • DaveCT

        I disagree. Practically no one makes the jump from Hi-A ball to the ML’s. He just needs development time, where he can learn to hit breaking balls in AA snd, especially AAA.

  2. BK

    Fifth paragraph references the Mets, Rosario’s former team.

  3. Sliotar

    Adames’ service time situation, according to Spotrac:

    – 2021: age 25, league minimum
    -2022: age 26, Arb 1
    -2023: age 27, Arb 2
    -2024: age 28, Arb 3

    Perfect “get his prime as cheap as possible” set-up for TB (not for Adames).

    Adames is projected across the board by systems as 2 WAR or better in 2021.

    So … why would the Rays trade him without receiving a fortune? Even with guys behind him in system, he is the optimal cost-controlled plus performer TB develops.

    Getting Adames is much better than Rosario, who could have had from Mets at the end of last season.

    The question is .. what kind of young with upside package could Reds even offer to entice TB?

    • Sliotar

      Spotrac does age wonky …

      Adames is in age 26 season (turns 26 in Sept.)

      Thus … even better for TB

      2021 – league minimum, age 26
      (etc.)

      Adames is only getting one big FA payday …. in his age 30 season, if teams in 2025 will pay for 30-and-over infielders.

      MLB system is so broken in favor of owners.

    • jmb

      That IS the question. Word is it would take plenty. Trading for Dylan Moore (Seattle) who is similar offensively and defensively, though a few years older and with less MLB experience, would cost less in prospects.

  4. RedsGettingBetter

    Perhaps Yasiel Puig is thinking turning to a SS player jeje!… I think maybe Reds could offer Aquino and a mid level prospect for Adames…

    • Doc

      They can offer anything, but what would TB seek? Probably much more than the offer. We offered to several FA SS, but didn’t get any of them.

      I’d do Villar for one year plus a club option year, or for two years at a level that is comfortable for a back up if Garcia is likely ready for 2022 prime time. It’s the other seven position players who will determine the fate of the Reds season, not the SS position. Don’t blow 2022-2025 for a long shot 2021 season.

      The Reds system is not the strongest. I would not give up any of the top ranked farm hands. With three effectively first round picks coming up, its an opportunity to rebuild to a position of strength.

      • RedsGettingBetter

        Well .. The position of SS is contained in the center line of a team and it is very important. Generally, a team considered as a contender or winner has a solid SS player as a highlight feature… Reds are developing Garcia ,but this season if they want be a winning team maybe should make some sacrifice

  5. wizeman

    Thinking perhaps Aquino and Ryan Hendrix. Think that might do it?

    • Jimbo44CN

      Why are you all ready to give up on Aquino? Because he wasnt’ as great in the few games he actually got into last year instead of the year before? He certainly deserves the chance but with David Bell around, who knows.

      • Hotto4Votto

        To be fair, until 2019 Aquino had only had one “great” season even in the minors, in 2016 at A+. After 2018 he was non-tendered by the Reds and brought back on a minor league deal. 2019 he smashed the “juiced” AAA ball and had a very impressive month in Cincinnati before cratering back to earth in September. His track record isn’t very long and spotty at best. Plus he’s out of options in a crowded OF.

      • jmb

        I agree with Hotto4Votto, Aquino was never very good in the minors until that one season. The same could be said about VanMeter and O’Grady. They all had great years that same season. Why? Juiced balls? Or was it Leon Durham at Louisville? Why the Reds didn’t make that guy their hitting instructor a year ago is beyond me. Doesn’t he want the job?

  6. JoshG

    maybe they signed Gordon just to make these trade scenarios look better lol

  7. catcard202

    Reds FO has mismanaged rosters for decades…Why should fans have any faith or expect anything different from them this off-season???

    Reds FO went into the Winter Meetings w/ 2 directives…#1) Dump contract players to reduce payroll significantly…#2) Upgrade the SS position via FA or Trade.

    They did # 1 quite poorly & have struck out at every turn on #2….Which seems about par for the course regardless of Red GM calling the shots.

    Frankly speaking…At this point…No sure why ANYONE in Reds Country would be even remotely eager to drop hard earned coin on a season ticket package for what looks like another 90+ loss roster.

  8. doofus

    From Baseball America.

    Taylor Walls
    Born: Jul 10, 1996
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 5’10” Wt.: 180
    Drafted: Florida State, 2017 (3rd round).
    Signed By: Brett Foley.
    VIEW PLAYER CARD
    TRACK RECORD: A three-year starter at Florida State, Walls has managed to carve a path for himself despite the overflow of middle infielders in the Rays’ system. Even in a system with so many options, Walls has managed to establish himself as the club’s best defensive shortstop, with enough bat to be a potential major league regular.

    SCOUTING REPORT: Walls is a plus defender at shortstop whose steady reliability and sticky hands are matched by above-average range and an above-average, accurate arm. Walls manages to slow the game down with an excellent internal clock. Walls can play other infield spots, but the Rays haven’t had him work much at second or third because he’s so reliable at short. Offensively, Walls is more likely a bottomof-the-order hitter than someone who tops a lineup. He’s a switch-hitter who is comfortable against lefthanders and righthanders. Walls is an average hitter with below-average power. He’s best as a pest whose bat control makes it hard for pitchers to strike him out. His above-average speed is a useful bonus.

    THE FUTURE: Where Walls fits on the Rays’ roster is hard to decipher, but the more scouts from other teams have seen him, the more convinced they are that he’ll be a starting shortstop. The question is whether it will be with the Rays or with another club after a trade.

    • doofus

      For 2021, Fangraphs has Walls ranked as the Ray’s #8 prospect; BA #15; MBL.com has not revealed 2021 rankings yet.

    • BK

      Agree, he’s one the Reds should look into.

      • doofus

        BK you smoked out WALLS with this post:

        BK 01/28/2021
        “…the Rays are loaded at SS in the minors, so I think it’s plausible.

        Alternatively, Vidal Brujan and Taylor Walls are also in their system and had time at AA. If the Red’s scouts perceived either as more ready than Garcia, they could be less costly trade acquisitions than many of the others. Bottom-line: there are still some good options, Krall should include the Rays on his call list.”

    • doofus

      From Baseball America:

      2021-
      Best Defensive Infielder: Taylor Walls
      Best Infield Arm: Taylor Walls

      • Jmb

        He’s okay, but the Reds recently picked up a defense-first SS in Holder. If Adames would cost too much to get via trade, why not go for Dylan Moore. He’s similar to Adames both offensively and defensively, though he hasn’t as much MLB experience, he plays various positions, and he wouldn’t nearly cost as much in prospects.

    • MuddyCleats

      Nice, thanks for info. I keep mentioning Brendan Rodgers w/ Rocs – could b available? Former #1 pick who appears to need a change of Scenery. Not much speed though ?

  9. Stock

    The Reds would be fools to weaken the farm even more with a trade.

    At the end of the summer the five playoff teams will be Atlanta, NY, St. Louis, LA and SD. The Reds will be 10 games out come July.

    Then you can blow it up and acquire 10 – 15 top 100 FA. Trade Moustakas and cash for prospects, Trade Castellanos and cash for prospects. Trade Miley and cash for Prospects. Trade Gray, Lorenzen, Garrett, Mahle, Castillo, Jose De Leon and Lucas Sims.

      • doofus

        You suggested the Reds trade for a SS 11 days ago.

      • Stock

        Keep up doof. In the last 11 days all the good SS are off the market leaving the Reds with no leverage. In the last 11 days the Cardinals traded for Arenado making the acquisition of a SS a moot point. Finally, to be clear I never lobbied for a Rosario.

        I see your great similator blew up yet again this week with the Kris Davis/Elvis Andrus trade saying it would never happen. It also blew up with the Musgrove trade. and said all the other trades in between would not be a fair trade.

      • jmb

        Funny. He’s ready to trade the entire team because the Reds didn’t find a good SS in the off-season! Well, he’ s no GM. Krall is pretty good at the job. I’m impressed with all the little moves he’s made this off-season. He might have found a diamond in the rough or two or three. He hasn’t made any big splashes and has instead allowed the team salary to drop dramatically, but we pretty much knew that would happen going into the off-season. The one thing I don’t like is the current hitting coach–the Reds are usually a good offensive team and they are built to be one, but they had a completely mediocre 2020. Seems the previous guy who came over from the Dodgers could have done as well.

    • JayTheRed

      I’m sorry but your not going to acquire 10 to 15 top 100 prospects for a heap of Reds players. You’d be lucky to get 5 total.

      Plus last time I checked you still have to play the games so even though the odds are in favor for your potential 5 NL teams is there, those teams could be wracked with injuries or perhaps Covid plays a role. Or maybe they just aren’t as good as you think they are.

      I am not saying our current team is going to be there for sure but there is at least a chance. I truly believe that the players that had bad seasons last year with this team are probably going to move more toward their normal numbers than not.

  10. Jake

    Would Tejay Antone for Rosario work for Cleveland? The trade simulator thinks so

    • Stock

      How is Rosario better than Farmer? Antone could be very good.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I don’t think there’s much difference between the two beyond the elusive upside. Rosario does have a better OPS+ for his career and two full seasons of OPS+ that Farmer hasn’t come close to touching (although in less playing time overall). Rosario isn’t really much of a fielder or hitter overall though, so incremental improvement at best. With both Rosario and Villar you’re hoping to hit on the upside and not what either has done recently. But hope is awful as a strategy to improve the team. I wouldn’t give up a top 20 prospect for Rosario on the “hope” that he plays up to his upside.

  11. doofus

    On another topic…

    With Bauer declining the QO, the Reds first 4 picks in the 2021 draft are #17, 30, 35 and 52. Choose wisely Mr. Krall. Here is a chance to restock the Farm.

    • citizen54

      At #17 you are probably only getting a 45 FV. At #30 and after that 40 FV. Doubtful they are going to be able to turn the farm system around just like that although you never know.

  12. west larry

    Agree. Please, big Bob, let Mr. Krall and his staff pick these draft choices without your input, no matter what baseball magazines you are reading.

  13. Scott C

    With the signing of Dee Strange-Gordon all the hope I had last spring has faded into a distant memory.

  14. Rut

    Haha, Krall just quoted by C Trent saying “I believe in the ss we have on roster”….

    Though he can’t really say otherwise, I do think the rest of the “reporting” here is just white noise.

    I mean, I am ‘looking’ at getting a 2019 BMW M5 for the right deal — just have not found that yet bc I want it 15k cheaper than I have seen. So still looking here, much like my team is still looking for a ss.

    Don’t see either one of us having success by April, but by all means carry on with the discussion of the ss.

  15. Rednat

    i actually like Kyle Farmer at shortstop. i think he is a good situational hitter and a guy that actually “has a plan” when he steps to the plate. if he played everyday i think he would drive in a lot of runs hitting in the 7th spot. problem is that your bench really weakens if you put him is as a starter. he was a very solid pinch hitter and fill in guy last year

    • Hotto4Votto

      I wish his “plan at the plate” were to hit better. He’s had OPS+ between 71-74 all 4 seasons he’s played in MLB. That’s consistent, but also pretty rough. He’s also got all of 86.2 innings played at the position in the majors. I don’t see how he’s the answer as a starter.

      • Jimbo44CN

        I think he would benefit with some consistency.
        If he was starting every day, I think his hitting would improve, but I am also realistic in the fact that he is not as good as some others that got away. Would have been nice if we could have gotten Didi or Semien.

  16. Colorado Red

    Doug,

    Not to be picky, but a minor booboo in the article.

    You said, “The Mets have a little bit less leverage in trading Rosario,”
    That should be the Indians as he is no longer a Met.

    • Doug Gray

      Always be picky. Thanks. Going to correct it now.

  17. Hotto4Votto

    Really, really want it to be Adames. Still don’t see Rosario or Villar as much of an upgrade over what we have. Unfortunately when you broadcast to the world what your plans are, and wait until all the good options are gone, other teams then have leverage.