Moving on to the next position in this series, today we are going to look at a position that is locked up longer than just about any position in baseball. The Cincinnati Reds have Joey Votto locked up at first base through the 2023 season (with an option and a large buyout for the 2024 season). While it may seem a bit similar to the State of the Farm series, the purpose here is to look at the current Reds and the contract status of the players at each position and get into potential internal replacements for when those current Reds contracts expire.
Expires after the 2014 season: No one
As noted above, Joey Votto is locked up for the long haul. Unfortunately though, injuries do happen at times and while we don’t hope for them on anyone they are a part of the game and if it does happen it is nice to have someone waiting in the wings to help fill in.
Potential first basemen to come up during or after the 2014 season: Neftali Soto and Travis Mattair
The top bet here would be Neftali Soto, who has spent the last two seasons playing with the Louisville Bats and already is on the 40-man roster, giving him a big edge as the Reds wouldn’t have to make a roster move to add him. Offensively, his power plays but the rest of his game is a bit questionable. He has struggles with plate discipline and has since he signed. Travis Mattair spent his 2013 season in Pensacola and while a slow start held down his overall numbers, he rebounded well over the final four months of the season. He seems to struggle at the start of the season with a promotion, but rebounds after a few weeks. Offensively he is solid across the board once he gets things going. Defensively he is outstanding. Both players can also play third base.
Most likely to take over: Neftali Soto
From a skillset point, I don’t think there is a huge advantage one way or the other between the two guys, but with Soto being on the 40-man roster he gets the nod.
Wild card pick: Travis Mattair
This was a tough pick given that there was only one option. If Mattair goes out in 2013 and breaks out, he could leapfrog Soto despite his lack of a 40-man roster spot.
Expires after the 2015 season: No one
Once again, Joey Votto is locked up for the foreseeable future, so there probably won’t be anything opening up for the long run. There is always the potential chance that an injury opens up a spot though.
Potential First Basemen to come up during or after the 2015 season: Seth Mejias-Brean and Steve Selsky
Neither of these guys are true first basemen, but both have found themselves playing the position at times in order to get everyone in the lineup at bats. These two guys were awarded either the Reds MiLB Player of the Year Award (Seth Mejias-Brean) or the Reds MiLB Hitter of the Year Award (Steve Selsky) over the past two seasons. I would give the edge for the top spot to Seth Mejias-Brean here despite him being a level lower. I just have a little more faith in his bat. Mejias-Brean has some upside to work with and an advanced approach at the plate with room to grow in the power department. Selsky got off to a rough start in Pensacola and found himself in Bakersfield for most of 2013 where he hit well. Selsky has some pop in his bat, but his plate discipline isn’t as strong as Mejias-Brean has, though it is still solid. Both guys will have chances to break in at other positions, but at least for now are the most likely to see time from the group of current minor leaguers at first base for this time period.
Most likely to take over: Seth Mejias-Brean
As noted above, Mejias-Brean just brings more upside at the plate and in the field than Selsky does and he may even be more polished in those aspects outside of current power. His game is very well rounded where he is solid or better across the board with some upside that he could still tap into.
Wild card pick: Steve Selsky
Much like the previous pick, Selsky is the only choice left here. While it isn’t a stretch at all for Selsky to be here by 2015/2016 he is the wild card pick by default. He seems to be solid all around on offense and defense, but he needs to show that his 2013 time in Pensacola was merely a slow start rather than pitchers at that level understanding how to get him out.
For more from this series, click here.