The Cincinnati Reds currently find themselves in an interesting situation. They don’t seem to have their bench remotely close to being figured out. Part of that is because of the circumstances around Devin Mesoraco and just what he will be able to do when they begin playing games. Still, they seem to only have one backup on their 40-man roster for either the infield or outfield that appears locked in – Arismendy Alcantara. Tucker Barnhart is certainly going to be there as well, but until we know where Mesoraco sits, we don’t know if Barnhart’s role to begin the year. That brings us to Dilson Herrera.
When the Reds acquired him from the New York Mets on August 1st in the Jay Bruce trade, they referred to him as the future second baseman. At the time the organization had Brandon Phillips at the position. After his trade last week to Atlanta, the Reds announced that Jose Peraza would be the starting second baseman. In the long run, the team would probably prefer to get him time at shortstop, but with Zack Cozart still on the roster, that’s not going to happen yet. That leaves Dilson Herrera without an every day position to play.
Every scouting report on Dilson Herrera has suggested that he’s basically limited to second base as a defensive player. His range is a bit limited at second, and his arm doesn’t stand out – though it plays fine at the position. Bryan Price mentioned earlier this week that he hoped to look at Herrera at other positions. That’s important for a few reasons. First, he’s the only non-starting infielder on the 40-man roster aside from Alcantara, who is actually listed as an outfielder. If he can handle another position, then his spot on the 25-man roster to start the season could mean the team doesn’t have to make a 40-man roster move to clear a spot for a different backup infielder.
In limited big league time in both 2014 and 2015, Dilson Herrera has no experience anywhere but second base. We need to go back to 2014 in the minor leagues to see him show up at another position. That season he started 25 games at shortstop between Advanced-A and Double-A. Prior to that season, he didn’t show up at any position besides second base unless we go back to 2011. That season, as a 17-year-old, he started 56 games at third base. He didn’t start a game at any other position. He did play three innings at second base as he slid over to the position in two games.
It’s been nearly six years since Dilson Herrera last saw action at third base in a game. He was a raw 17-year-old at the time and playing in the now defunct Venezuelan Summer League for the Pirates. That may change this year, and we are seeing the early plans at work in spring training today. Here’s what Jim Day tweeted out just a few minutes ago:
— Jim Day (@JimDayTV) February 17, 2017
It’s early in the process, so we don’t know how it will work out. From a scouting perspective, there may be some concerns about just how well his arm will play at the position even in a backup role. Aside from that, would it be better for both Dilson Herrera and the Cincinnati Reds in the long run to have him play every day in Louisville, even if that meant splitting some time at both second and third, while getting every day at-bats until there’s a spot for a similar role in the big leagues? I believe that would serve everyone better. It seems to make more sense than trying to find 15 at-bats a week for Herrera in the big leagues, which would mean taking them away from Peraza, Cozart and Suarez as everyone would shift around to make room.