Last season the Cincinnati Reds called up Jose Barrero – then known as Jose Garcia – as they were making a run at the playoffs. Barrero had been playing at the alternate site for the Reds, but had never played above the Advanced-A level in the minor leagues. There was no question that defensively he was ready to play every day in the big leagues. But his bat showed rather quickly that he wasn’t ready for that side of the game just yet.

During the offseason the Reds seemed to at least be involved in rumors that revolved around acquiring a shortstop on the free agent market, and a little bit involved in some rumors on the trade market around some shortstops. None of that ever came to fruition, though, and the Reds ultimately decided to give a shot to Eugenio Suárez at his former spot after he got into better shape in the offseason and looked lighter on his feet than he has in a while. A combination of poor defensive play and injuries led to Suárez sliding back to third base and inserting Kyle Farmer into the lineup at shortstop for the last few months. Farmer’s shown the ability to play quality defense there, but his bat leaves something to be desired – hitting just .224/.293/.343 this season. His 74 wRC+ ranks 166th in baseball out of 178 players with at least 250 plate appearances this season.

The trade deadline is approaching and will be here in two weeks. Cincinnati’s general manager Nick Krall has said that if the opportunity presents itself to improve the team that they are open to it. There are a lot of opinions on this, and you can have at it in the comments, but we’re going to leave that be on it’s own within the article. What we want to talk about is whether or not what Jose Barrero is doing right now will leave the team hesitant to try and acquire a shortstop for the final two months of the season.

When the big league season began, the minor league campaign wasn’t ready to get going. For April, the big leagues had alternate sites once again. This year the Reds used Louisville as their site and that’s where Jose Barrero was. But once the minor league season began on May 4th, Barrero headed down to Double-A Chattanooga to join the Lookouts. The shortstop performed well there, hitting .300/.367/.481 with a 9% walk rate and a 22.2% strikeout rate. That was the best walk rate he had ever shown, his strikeout rate was in line with his past rates, and his power output was up a little bit.

After two months of that he was promoted to Triple-A Louisville. He had a bit of a slow start in the first week he was there. But then he went out to Colorado for the Futures Game and homered and walked. Since he returned to Triple-A this past week he’s been on fire. He’s homered the last two nights and has gone on a tear and is now hitting .265/.381/.531 with a 14% walk rate and a 23% strikeout rate.

The sample size is small in Triple-A, but on the season we are now looking at 244 plate appearances in the upper minor leagues between Chattanooga and Louisville, and if we want to toss in what he did in the Futures Game, too, he’s hitting .295/.376/.510 with an 11% walk rate and a 22% strikeout rate. That’s premium production from a top prospect in the upper minor leagues at a position of need, and one that he plays well defensively.

He’s the type of player teams are trying to acquire, not the type of player many teams are looking to move. So where does that leave Cincinnati? Do they allow Jose Barrero more time in Triple-A to see how pitchers adjust to him and what he does to adjust back? Do they let things roll with Kyle Farmer a bit longer?

Perhaps the biggest question is what would they do if and when Mike Moustakas returns? With an infield that would then have Mike Moustakas, Eugenio Suárez, Jonathan India, and Joey Votto – all players who it’s tough to see being benched whether some of you hate that idea or not – where would that leave Jose Barrero? What would it mean for shortstop?

Acquiring a stop-gap shortstop that wouldn’t cost much to bring in would potentially upgrade the spot over Kyle Farmer in the short term, but also allow the team to send whoever that player is to the bench if and when Moustakas were to return. That situation becomes a lot more complicated if you hand over the job to Jose Barrero and he comes up and performs anything remotely close to the way he’s performed in the minor leagues this season.

Of course the question also would be: What’s the best team you can put on the field? Right now the Reds are within striking distance of a playoff spot. But they are in striking distance and not leading the way. That means they’ve got to perform better moving forward. There are a lot of potential options on the table. What happens in the next two weeks will probably tell us the direction the team is heading in.

44 Responses

  1. LGR

    Does Berrero pitch? Because that’s what the team should be looking to acquire. A Zach Britton or a Richard Rodriguez. If they were to rent a player for the lineup, I in all honesty prefer a Kris Bryant over a Trevor Story. I mean I don’t think either would happen.. but that’s just my opinion. Imagine a outfield of Winker, Castellanos and Bryant. Yikes.

    • Doug Gray

      There’s more than one area where the team should be looking. For today, specifically, we decided to talk about shortstop given the need and the fact that Barrero’s been crushing the ball of late.

      • LGR

        I think Barrero is the obvious call for SS. I think the one we need to figure out what we’re doing with is Lopez. Let Geno slide back to SS for the time being, let India get a crack at 3rd and let Lopez play some 2nd for a week to two. I think eventually Mallex Smith will come up for Aquino if the Reds are really getting close and pushing towards the playoffs. The speed off the bench and defense would be of more use than Aquinos random homers. Idk. They could go a ton of different ways.

      • jon vera

        LGR, lets trade Suarez.(he ain’t no SS)

      • thomas dorsey

        Your article was spot on. They signed him to a multi million dollar contract at the age of 16. He is the reason they did NOT sign another ss. He is only
        21, right now he is insurance for Farmer but we will see him in September when they expand the rosters for sure. Last years experience will pay off down the road. I am looking forward to seeing Jonathan India and Jose Barrero together hopefully for the next few years! Cudos to the whole farm system for all the good young talent so we can talk about them and DREAM about the future. ?

      • Max BRAGG

        Doug you are right there is more than one thing wrong in REDS land. We need to start with the pitching,because this team can hit enough to play with Farmer. THE REAL problem starts with our management group. They are sitting around waiting on MOOSE and Senzel when that will be a while off MOVE now,but there is Bell refusal to move Suarez down in lineup!

  2. RedsFan11

    Could Bobby being cheap lead to Reds inactivity at the deadline? There fixed the title for ya…

    I’m all seriousness they continued to play .175 Suarez over the hottest hitter in the minors Alejo Lopez. Lopez has ridden the bench for 3 weeks now. Who has faith if they called up Barrero he would even play?

    Before you say because Barrero is a SS remember Alejo can play 3B and a guy hitting .175 over last 140 games continued to get all the playing time

    • RojoB

      But said guy hit home runs so he gets to stay

      Edgar Rentería hit a HR that won a World Series also

    • Alan Horn

      SS is not where we need to be active at the deadline. LH RP that can consistently get left handed hitters out is what we need along with some healthy relief pitchers returning soon. I agree Lopez should be getting more ABs but they have allowed him to sit so long that he may have gone cold. Aquino is another that needs to get more ABs. Suarez is hitting better but he is not above sitting out a game here and there. Same for Votto. The bench players can’t be allowed to sit and get rusty.

      • jon vera

        agree 100%. Suarez def. is horrible to boot.

  3. Bred

    Platoon Geno and Moose when/if he returns. Try Barrero at SS if he does not hit better than Farmer then play Farmer unless his defense is worth the drop in hitting. Or Barrero could be a late game defensive replacement. Then let Lopez, whom I call Moonlight Graham, down as he is not getting any playing time.

  4. Votto4life

    Krall’s comments reminds me of the friend who wants his buddies to “hold me back” when a fight is about to break out. He would have been better off saying nothing at all.

    The Reds had four months this winter to improve the team and did nothing, I doubt any positives moves will happen in the next two weeks or anytime really until Bob sells the team.

    • Klugo

      Krall has always just been better saying nothing at all. He’s not too good at the talking thing.
      “Better to remain silent and be though a fool than to to speak and remove all doubt.”

      • DaveCT

        Agreed. PR is not this guy’s strong suit.

    • RedAlert

      You are spot on ! They will do nothing – all lip service . Been down this road several times before . Until this team is sold to someone that actually cares about the product in the field , nothing will change .

      • burtgummer01

        Ding Ding Ding
        It’s unfortunate but it’s the truth

    • Hotto4Votto

      Yeah, unfortunately I don’t see the Reds adding anyone that’ll be a difference maker. Probably hoping for healthy returns, maybe calling up Barrero, and more fringy moves like we’ve seen.

  5. Klugo

    It all depends on what they feel will happen with Moustakas. If they think he’ll be back, they’re not gonna bench Suarez. If they don’t, they may think about getting a rental, but rentals are usually over priced. So, really, I doubt they make a move at SS. They may add a bullpen piece just to shut the fanbase up.

    • DaveCT

      Plus, what kind of load can Moose play when he does return? Two-theee days a week might seem to be a disadvantage at first glance, but could really be a big plus to give rest to Joey and Geno, let alone India who is in his first ML campaign.

    • jon vera

      Trade, moose,suarez,aquino,barnhardt and NC. The future is lopez,greene,lodolo,barerro,india and stephenson.

  6. CI3J

    The simple answer is, if Barrero is ready, to bring him up and use Moose as a super sub at 3B, 2B, and 1B to keep everyone fresh. Plus that would mean the Reds’ bench would be that much stronger for late-game situations. Imagine having Moose, Aquino, Akiyama, Farmer, and Barnhart to pick from in a later game situation.

    If the Reds are really going to go for it with the team they have now, then they need their best players on big league club. If Barrero is one of those “best players”, then he should be called up.

  7. RedsGettingBetter

    Is insane to think about trading Moustakas when will be healthy? Of course it depends if there are interested teams on him…

    • JayTheRed

      I don’t think there would be much interest. Since signing with the Reds he hasn’t really played a whole ton. I feel like it would be selling him at low trade value.

      • Alan Horn

        I would give him away and throw in a low to mid level minor league player if necessary in order to get roster and salary relief.

  8. Roger Garrett

    I thought he was our best shortstop at the start of the year.I say that based on his defense at a defense first position.I realize that is not the way the position is viewed any more because of Tatis,Turner and others.How could he not be better then Farmer at the plate and I love Farmer?He needs to be here and platoon them if need be and lets go.Could catch lightning in a bottle for a few games in what we hope are meaningful games.From all indications he is a plus defender with speed.

  9. Jim Walker

    The Reds were well rewarded when they handed the keys to a couple of kids, India and Stephenson. Time for them to go for a trifecta with Barrero.

    Moustakis is a career league average hitter who was slightly worse (97 OPS+) or better (113 wRC+) for this year when he went down. As suggested by someone else, try shuffling him as a super sub between 1B/2B/3B if and when he returns this season.

    A really amazing portion of this conversation has been that unless I missed it, Nick Senzel hasn’t been mentioned at all. I’m guessing he goes on an extended rehab when ready and then barring someone else being injured ends up being quietly optioned to AAA.

    • Old-school


      Bell mentioned Senzel was progressing and fielding ground balls and taking outfield and hitting but return was likely August- not July. Sounds like he will get a rehab assignment in late July and called back up in early August. The name that’s not really mentioned much in terms of a hard timeline to return is Moose.

      • Jim Walker

        I saw Bell’s comments but tend to take them with a few grains of salt in this case. Senzel doesn’t have a position unless somebody goes belly up on production or is injured. So I do not look for them to rush him.

        They can push his rehab time to extend all the way to September by not starting it until the 11th or thereabouts of August. That’s the path I look for them to take barring emergency or trades with the MLB club. Then first of September they could use 1 of the 2 expanded roster slots for him or option him.

      • Old-school

        Bobby nightengale has twitter video with senzel and blandino taking grounders around SS

        Senzel is a 26 man roster guy when healthy

      • AllTheHype

        Senzel doesn’t have a position? Who is playing CF so well, I must have missed it?

      • oklared

        I missed Senzel dominating in center he is good but not dominating by any means.

  10. LDS

    Leave Barrero in Louisville unless he plays everyday. His development is more important than his short term contribution. They are wasting Lopez currently. So send him down. Stephenson should be playing more as well. Suarez? Find a sucker to take him off their hands. I’ve said before and will again, after this many games, expecting a sudden turnaround is like casino gambling. Sometimes you hit but usually you don’t. As for Moustakas and Senzel? I’m not counting on their return this year at all. And if they do return, I’m not expecting much. IMO, the Reds have a lot of holes to plug to be taken seriously as a post season contender. Start with the bullpen but realize virtually no one on the team hits LH’ers consistently.

  11. Old-school

    @Doug- you follow reds minors more than anyone and talk with scouts- Is he ready after 250 at bats or so?

    My only issue with the Reds and elite young prospects is once they are up,,they need to play 5-6 days a week and get into a rhythm and comfortable knowing if they go 1-11 in a series, they are still playing tomorrow.

    Once Barrero comes up, he needs to be the everyday SS. Not much made of Mariners and Brewers with Kelenic and Keston Huira- but both failed miserably and were sent back down . Barrero cant be sent down again. He has to be ready to play and play mostly every day for the next 1500 at bats. India and Stephenson struggled mightily for weeks earlier this year but you stick with them.

    White Sox signed Lance Lynn to 2/38 extension.
    Lynn said why go to free agency when you know where you want to be.

  12. DaveCT

    My post above. What kind of load can Moose play when he does return? Two-theee days a week might seem to be a disadvantage at first glance, but could really be a big plus to give rest to Joey and Geno, let alone India who is in his first ML campaign.

    • Alan Horn

      It seems the older vets play everyday. They need to be given a rest all alone as well as getting some of the bench players a start all along.

      • DaveCT

        Agreed. Whole team concept. Plus a look at the long haul.

  13. Melvin

    The answer should be very simple when it comes to who plays and where even when everyone is healthy. Play the best people who will help you win. Quit messing around. It’s as simple as that. No politics. just win. If that happens everything else will iron itself out.

  14. Tim

    Barrero is our best POTENTIAL option at SS. He’s hitting better the Story and he’s cheap. Bring him up and let him play. He will bat no worse than Farmer. Platoon Moose and Suarez at 3B. Keep Farmer as a sub and PH. Don’t mess with India but give him a day off occasionally. Moose can also spell Votto at 1B. Put Aquino in as he has much more potential to change ballgames than Naquin. If he develops, he is money in the bank for the Reds. Naquin is great but he has a narrow upside. Let Akiyama PH and sub. Let Lopez play more until (if) Moose gets back. Senzel is a wash for 2021.

    • jon vera

      Reds are NEVER paying Story what he wants.

  15. Nick in NKY

    Between entrenched veterans, regardless of performance, and performing players, the only position truly available for upgrade is SS. Baez or Story would both likely prove to be an upgrade over Farmer, and they should both be cheap. Barrero may be the future, but IMHO that future starts in 2022.

  16. jon vera

    agree 100%. Suarez def. is horrible to boot.

  17. jon vera

    He’s not mentioned because he has done nothing but get hurt his whole career. I laugh thinking of people not wanting him in a Lindor trade.

  18. MK

    There is no doubt Barrera is a star of the future. But I don’t think he offers that much of an upgrade guarantee in 2021. Farmer has been a very good defender and to think Jose comes in offensively and not skip a beat is a lot to ask.