Friday night during the Cincinnati Reds game Mark Sheldon tried to break Reds-twitter this this tweet, saying that it seems more likely that the Reds extend Scooter Gennett than trade him.
— Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) July 14, 2018
This got both sides of the aisle going. Some people loved it. Some people hated it. And truthfully, both sides of the argument can make a reasonable defense of their side.
To those on the side who love the idea of extending Scooter Gennett, they can point out that he’s one of the best hitters in baseball at his position. Heading over to Fangraphs and looking back to the start of the 2017 season, Gennett is the 3rd best hitting second baseman in baseball – essentialyl tied with Jed Lowrie. There’s a huge gap behind them to the next guy on the list. Jose Altuve and Jose Ramirez are both significantly ahead of them. No matter how you slice it, though – Scooter Gennett is EASILY the best offensive second baseman in the National League since he joined the Reds, and it’s not particularly close. He’s literally been 50% more valuable on offense than the next closest second baseman in the league – Javier Baez.
Some on the side who love it have also pointed out that Scooter Gennett is a proven commodity. And that the prospects you would be replacing him with, even the internal ones – not the ones you’d likely acquire for him in trade – are not proven and involve some risk. They aren’t exactly incorrect with that, either.
The side that isn’t exactly a fan of extending Scooter Gennett also have some good arguments. First is that he’s under team control through 2019 as things stand right now. And he plays a position that the organizations best prospect – and one of the top prospects in all of baseball – also plays. And Nick Senzel, while out for the rest of the season with a finger injury, is ready to step into the Major Leagues on Opening Day of 2019. There’s nothing left for him to do in the minor leagues. That also doesn’t account for guys like Alex Blandino or Dilson Herrera who are both in the Major Leagues right now and capable of playing second base today. Or Shed Long who is one of the organizations Top 10 prospects who is in Double-A. Or Jeter Downs and Jose Garcia who are down in Dayton splitting time in the middle infield positions.
The Cincinnati Reds are absolutely loaded at the second base position in the minors. Extending Scooter Gennett would probably mean adding, what, four years to his current control? That would take him through his age 33 season. That’s not old by any standards, but it would likely be the start of the decline. But it’s not just the aging curve, it’s also the money it would take. With how he’s hit the last two seasons, he’ll probably get around $10M for 2019 in arbitration. And he’d be crazy to take less than $14M a year for an extension, wouldn’t he?
Between replacing him in the field with Nick Senzel, and having huge monetary savings to spend elsewhere on the roster, AND acquiring talent by trading Scooter Gennett, there’s a good argument to be made that it would be a smarter plan of action for a team that has to be wise with every last dollar spent.
All of this is to say: The Reds don’t have an easy decision. Right now they control the best hitter at second base in the league that they play in. And he wants to stay. The team seems to want him to stay, too. Bird in the hand and all of that. But, they also have the guy who projects to be the next star at the position in the minor leagues who is ready as soon as April 2019. And he will be significantly cheaper over the next six years. The guys at Red Reporter posed a rather interesting tweet-thread thought about how you can sort of do both.
Point being, getting any sort of positional flexibility from a few guys who have shown that they’re capable of doing so suggests there’s plenty of playing time to go around to a) keep Scooter’s bat around and b) get Nick Senzel everyday playing time.
Just takes creativity.
— Red Reporter (@redreporter) July 14, 2018
If the Reds could be creative and the players were flexible enough to make such a plan work, it could be great. That offense could be an absolute disaster for pitchers in the league. We don’t have a choice but to wait and see how this plays out. But right now, things could go in eleventy-billion different ways, and a lot of them make some sense.