It’s been a very newsworthy 24 hours in the Cincinnati Reds Minor League world. And earlier this morning some of the bigger news was that Nick Senzel, the organizations top prospect, is going to see time at third base beginning tonight in Louisville.

It was just a week ago where Nick Senzel told the media in Louisville that as far as he knew the plan was for him to play second base every single day.  Things change, though. When Eugenio Suarez broke his thumb after being hit by a pitch, it seems that even in the Reds front office, the thinking changed.

For now, the team has recalled Alex Blandino to take the place of Eugenio Suarez on the roster. He didn’t start last night, though that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. But, with the Reds seemingly changing the plan with Nick Senzel, those starts may not be coming for Alex Blandino – at least at third base, for long. Blandino is starting there tonight for the Reds. It will be his Major League debut.

There’s not an exact timetable on how long Eugenio Suarez will be out. Similar injuries seem to have cost guys 6-8 weeks, though. Nick Senzel has been a third baseman for his entire Minor League career outside of the first week of the season this year. Everything I’ve seen says he’s ready to play there, defensively, right now in the Majors. But, he didn’t spend much time there this spring as he worked on trying to get reacquainted with shortstop. This move seems more likely just to get him a few reps in for what appears to be coming next.

If the Reds are going to bring Nick Senzel up to play third base in the absence of Eugenio Suarez, it brings up a few different questions. The first is, when will they call him up? Today certainly isn’t the answer. By keeping him down for another few days the Reds can maintain control for an entire additional season. Basically, they get seven years of control instead of six by waiting a few days. But, he could be called up for the weekend series and the team would not lose out on that extra year of control.

The next question is, when they call up Nick Senzel, who loses their spot on the 40-man roster? It’s possible that the team could place Suarez on the 60-day disabled list if they believed he’d truly miss 8 weeks. But, that would be a surprising move to me. From my seat here in Cincinnati, 17-miles from the seat of the men who actually make the decision in the offices at Great American Ballpark, the logical choice would be one of the veteran backup infielders. Both are in their 30’s. Neither are a part of the long-term future of the organization. And as I’ve said in the past, basically provide the same kind of role on the team and are redundant.

The final question may be the most important one if the team calls up Nick Senzel to take over at third in the absence of Eugenio Suarez. What is the plan for when Suarez returns? Let’s assume that Senzel performs as expected and nothing unexpected happens. That would remove the thought of sending him back to the minors. When Suarez returns, he’s coming back into the starting lineup. Senzel, too, is going to remain in the lineup. Where things get interesting is how the team uses the infielders. Scooter Gennett is coming off of a big, breakout season. He’s entrenched at second base right now. Then there’s Jose Peraza. He’s struggled to hit since the 2016 season ended. And he’s looked very over matched for a lot of the time along the way.

Right before Eugenio Suarez was injured, Bryan Price did something that plenty of Reds fans have been clamoring for: Suarez slid over to shortstop as a late-inning replacement. Is it possible that we could see a scenario where he’s at shortstop? That would mean in 6-8 weeks the Cincinnati infield looks like this: Joey Votto at first base, Scooter Gennett at second base, Nick Senzel at third base, and Eugenio Suarez at shortstop. From an offensive standpoint, that’s the best that the organization could possibly hope for. Defensively, it’s a wait-and-see, if we even get to see it.

The other options could include a possibility of Nick Senzel sliding over to shortstop. That’s where he played this spring – though I do believe that is the least likely of any of these scenarios. I continue to believe that if the organization felt he could play shortstop at the Major League level that he would have been doing so to begin this season in Louisville instead of sliding to second base. But, I’ve been wrong before. More than once, actually, so take that with a big grain of salt if you’d like. That scenario would just remove Jose Peraza from the starting infield. That, too, would be the best possible current offensive solution. It would also leave open some questions about the defense until it proved otherwise.

The final, realistic option, would be to keep Jose Peraza at shortstop, slide Nick Senzel over to second base, and place Eugenio Suarez back at third. That would remove Scooter Gennett from the everyday lineup. Perhaps the team could look to try and trade Gennett rather than just turn him into a part-time player. That, however, would require another team to be looking for a second baseman in June. That’s usually a little bit earlier than teams are trying to make acquisitions in the summer. It also means finding the right team that needs one. And who also has something that would be useful for the Reds in trade. It’s a risky plan, for sure. But if the team doesn’t believe that either Suarez or Senzel can play shortstop every day defensively, it may be the only option available that doesn’t mean sending Senzel back to Triple-A.

There’s a whole lot of different ways this could play out. And maybe the Reds aren’t going to be calling up Nick Senzel in the next week even though the signs certainly suggest that it’s likely. But, even if they don’t, eventually all of the scenarios laid out above are going to be on the table and the Cincinnati front office is going to have to make a decision on which one to take. This is going to be a fun ride. Strap in and hold onto your butts.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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