The Cincinnati Reds don’t know who their shortstop will be on Opening Day of the 2021 season. With a stated goal to acquire a shortstop for the season when the offseason began, the organization came up short. Their internal solutions were Kyle Farmer and Alex Blandino. They also acquired Kyle Holder via a trade, but he’s never played a single game in the Major Leagues and largely is viewed as a future glove-first bench player. More recently they also brought in Dee Strange-Gordon, though it has sounded like he’s competing for a utility role more so than the starting gig at shortstop. With reports that Eugenio Suárez has shown up lighter in Goodyear this February, the question had to be asked: Can the former shortstop, now third baseman, slide back over to shortstop?

“I know Geno’s played shortstop, I’ve seen him play a lot of short over the last couple of years,” said manager David Bell. “If you look at where he plays in the shift a lot against a lot of the left handed hitters we faced, he’s basically playing the shortstop position, so we know he could play there. There haven’t been any serious discussions about it yet, but we definitely won’t rule anything out. You’re always open minded. Right now we’re just letting him get acclimated to spring training and settling in.  I think he’s been a good third baseman for a long time. I do think the better shape he’s in, he’s going to move even better at third base – especially at that position, it’s such a reaction position, I think being lighter on his feet is really going to help him over there.”

While Bell certainly hedges his bet with the “we won’t rule anything out”, almost everything he says backs up that it’s not something the team is considering or thinking about.

Eugenio Suárez wasn’t the only player that was addressed with regards to the shortstop position on Tuesday by Bell. He also spoke a little bit about prospect Jose Garcia and where he could potentially fit in during the 2021 season.

“Last year was a big year for Jose last year,” said Bell. “There’s really no question, to state the obvious, we rushed Jose to the big leagues. It was out of necessity. It was also knowing that he could handle it and it would be a good experience and it wouldn’t set him back. Even though you look at his numbers offensively, I can still point to many things I saw over the course of his time that made him better. It was a good experience for him, he handled it very well mentally, and it was very mature in how he handled it all. He stepped in and played a good shortstop for us. So, I just don’t know. He was a guy who hadn’t played above A-ball, and then he was in the Major Leagues last year. So we just have to be really thoughtful about doing what’s best for Jose. Obviously our goal is to win as a team, so we’ll have to see how it plays out. It wouldn’t surprise me if he started in the minor leagues, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up being a big part of our Major League team this year.”

In the best case scenario, Garcia is the shortstop on opening day. That would mean that he looked outstanding in spring training and that the issues he seemed to have at the plate last year were things that he improved upon since last season ended. But as things get started, and before games are even being played, it feels like Garcia is on the outside and looking in on the competition over the next five weeks for the spot as the Reds starter at shortstop.


39 Responses

  1. Klugo

    How are they going to get all these guys enough time at SS in Spring Training to get a good feel of who the best option is? I hate it when they use ST as a tryout and they seem to do it a lot. And it never works.
    They have to have a good idea of who their guy is already.

    • Hotto4Votto

      Agree about ST as a try out not working. ST stats are largely meaningless. As a reminder Garcia’s slash line in ST 2020: 269/300/769/1.069 with 4 HRs.

  2. Bob Purkey

    “Last year was a big year for Jose last year,”

    What kind of double-talk is that?

    • Doug Gray

      I think he meant it from the perspective of Jose’s career. He reached the big leagues, and for him, that’s a big thing. It probably reads a little different than it sounded.

    • Nathan

      Department of Redundancy Department.

  3. TR

    Since the Reds need to gradually become a younger team with the starting eight, it would be positive if Jose Garcia’s offensive issues improved over the offseason. I have a feeling Suarez is going to have a real breakout year whether at third or shortstop.

    • Frankie Tomatoes

      Suarez his 49 bombs in 2019. Pretty certain that breakout already happened.

      • TR#1

        Yes. Only 1 breakout season. After that you have already broken out. Unless there is a climbed back in season, then maybe there is more.

  4. BZ

    I know it probably won’t happen but moving Suarez to SS is the best of the bad options. You lose a lot defensively but it opens up moving Senzel to the IF and then Bell can just attempt to analytic the crap out of shifts to alleviate deficiencies. It gives the Reds SS production, it clears up the OF logjam, and it allows Bell the opportunity to get Barnhardt the playing time he wants to give him without having the weakest offensive 7-9 in the NL.

    • Hotto4Votto

      It is an unfortunate situation that of the best 7 offensive options, the Reds can only get 6 on the field at one time. Maybe Stephenson can change those numbers a bit if he plays enough.

      • BZ

        It is a tough situation. I think when Stephenson gets a chance, he will help a lot. At the same time, I think the best case scenario is TS getting 81 starts which still leaves around 970 at-bats for a 7-8-9 trio of players who will be lucky if they can combine for 175 hits over that span.

    • Muddy cleats

      I’d b more inclined to try Senzel again @ short. Clears up OF log jam & gets him ready 4 2nd once Garcia is ready. Suarez might handle the move better, but why mess w/ a top 10 3bman

  5. Hotto4Votto

    “we rushed Jose to the big leagues. It was out of necessity”

    Why was it out of necessity? Because the guys on the 40-man roster, Galvis, Farmer and Blandino, weren’t cutting it and the Reds wanted to make a playoff push and Garcia offered the best option. Who do we have different on the roster now that would not necessitate Garcia being the SS? No one I can see.

    So either the Reds do what’s best for Garcia and allow him to develop. Or they do what’s best for their chances of being competitive and play him. What would be best for all involved would be to go out and find an actual SS to play everyday and allow Garcia to develop in the minors.

    • Mark Moore

      And there was no minor league last year. Time at Prasco doesn’t count.

      But your point is valid. We have basically the same guys vying for the position this year (minus Galvis).

      • MBS

        Not a good situation. It seems like the Reds are going to take their lumps in 2021, hopefully this strategy doesn’t carry over to 22. Still looking forward to baseball.

    • Bill

      Why not take a chance on Jedd Groyko he has pop in his bat.He would be a good player off the bench

      • Jimbo44CN

        Pop? more like another word with an extra o.. Look at his stats from the last few years. Only one mediocre offensive season, the rest were bad. And, he struck out 30% of his at bats last year. No thanks. I’ll take Farmer before him.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I appreciate the “no stone unturned” attitude, but I don’t think Gyorko is the answer. First he’s not a SS, he’s played 31 innings in 2018 (last time he played the position) and rated negatively in defensive runs saved. He had 216 innings in 2016 but still rated negatively. He was 27 and 29 in those seasons, he’s 32 now. I don’t think he can handle the position. And in 2019 he was abysmal at the plate.

  6. ClevelandRedsFan

    This isn’t a video game. You can’t just have anyone play short or catcher to get the best bats in the lineup.

    Suarez will be the Reds 3B, and he will only play short in an emergency situation.

    Bring on Kyle Farmer, and I’d also like to see what Blandino can do.

    • BZ

      Starts at SS since 2013 (MiLB and MLB):

      Kyle Farmer 19 games
      Eugenio Suarez 410 games

      Starts in the IF since 2013 (MiLB and MLB):

      Kyle Farmer 204 games
      Eugenio Suarez 1,129 games

      I think you may have the two players reversed…

      • greenmtred

        Suarez has played a lot of games at short, and he was terrible in all of them (forgive my hyperbole). They could put my 74 year-old self at short for 1200 games, and it still wouldn’t make me a shortstop.

      • ClevelandRedsFan

        There’s a reason why the Reds converted him to 3B. He was terrible.

      • BZ

        As I mentioned above, Suarez to SS is a bad option but every option they have for SS is bad. It is the least bad of the bad options. My point was that you can’t call moving Suarez to SS a video game move while advocating for Farmer to be the everyday SS. Neither one of them are somebody who should be playing SS in the Majors but the Reds failed big time this off-season and here we are…

    • Aaron B.

      He go ahead and mock the video games, but they all penalize for out-of-position placement, or in this case really it would be considered secondary position… and as it is his range isn’t great, so the video game would reflect that but if it means getting Senzel in the infield perhaps the offensive boost is worth the sacrifice. As much as they shift they are admitting Suarez is often playing as a shortstop anyhow, the idea isn’t as crazy as you make it out to be.

  7. Kevin Patrick

    Let me first start off by saying as of right now… I’m leaning towards Farmer for short…that said….I think the Reds would have to be in the shift nearly every play if Suarez were at short. But…say you brought in Castellanos to play some third, Suarez at short, Moustakas second and Votto at first…Outfield of Akiyama, Senzel, and Winker left to right…bench bats with Aquino, Lorenzen and Farmer and perhaps Lorenzen…with speed in Strange-Gordon…they could put up some runs… but they would have to put up a bunch and have a heck of a lot of strikeouts.

    • Kevin Patrick

      …four lefties four righties on days that Stephenson catches.

  8. Redhaze

    Suarez to short, Moose to third, Senzel to second and sign Jackie Bradley to play center.

    • Mike

      Agree with all but JBJ. We have Shogo for CF. As for SS, I can’t believe anyone wants Kyle Farmer to get significant playing time. Dude’s never performed at the ML level. I’d take whatever Geno is at SS to get our best lineup at the plate.

  9. Frank

    I would like to see Suarez at short, and moose move over to his favorite 3rd base.

    Dee Strange Gordon can play second and hit lead off. I think Senzel has spent so much time now in center that I would let him there. (although I wouldnt mind switching Strange Gordon and Senzel).

  10. DataDumpster

    The SS position was the top stated priority. They wiffed or showed early on they weren’t serious. Now, David Bell says “we feel great about the options we have.” Wonderful, he’ll spend the first half of the season trying to find the perfect algorithm to determine who plays when. He seems to like that modus operandi.

    Hopefully then a decision to upgrade at SS if competitive or jettison Bell will set the stage for 2022. Just don’t rush Garcia. Management already wasted 2 or 3 top draft picks to get Bell players that didn’t last or perform under his tutelage. Wise up, guys!

    • 3rdbaseTom

      Some will say you’re just a pessimist, but I say you’re a realist considering past history.

    • Doug Gray

      Only if it’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go.

  11. TXRedLeg

    I never thought they’d sign any of the big name SS on the market, unless they miraculously moved some large contracts on the team, but I did think by now they would have SOMEBODY that could play the position by now. And my bar is pretty low for “play the position” in that I mean they have logged MLB time as a SS, but perhaps not not necessarily known for doing it well.
    It makes me think, maybe, just maybe, the Reds are more comfortable with Garcia going through on-the-job training in a season that doesn’t really look like it’s going to go the Reds way in any event.
    Suarez isn’t moving, unless it’s to another City.

  12. Roger Garrett

    Out of necessity last year but with the same cast back except Holder who has never played in the majors replacing Galvis its now not a necessity.Way too deep for me to comment on that one.