Nick Senzel is the Cincinnati Reds top prospect. In his Minor League career he’s played second base and third base. Last season he played in one game at shortstop, too. Where he hasn’t played is center field. At least in games.

With Eugenio Suarez entrenched at third base for the next six seasons, and Scooter Gennett locked in at second base for 2019, the Reds began exploring other options for Nick Senzel in 2018. His season was cut short by a finger injury mid-season that required surgery. But once he was healthy the team had him in instructional league to try and transition to the outfield. Left field and center field were the target destinations. While the corner outfield is crowded with Yasiel Puig, Jesse Winker, Scott Schebler, and Matt Kemp, center field was and is a bit more open. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer noted this morning that manager David Bell says that Nick Senzel is the favorite to win the center field job.

This is a very interesting comment for a few different reasons. First is that even before games, David Bell seems confident that Nick Senzel is his best option in center for 2019. He has spent time watching him take fly balls in the outfield. He’s made comments this spring, such as Nick Senzel in center “is more than possible”.

The second reason this is very interesting, and maybe I’m reading into it a bit too much, is that being the favorite to win the center field job certainly sounds like the plan is to have him up from day one. That goes along with Dick Williams comment of “I anticipate putting the best team out there that we can” when asked about Nick Senzel and opening day.

The biggest story of the spring is what happens with Senzel and center field. Getting his bat into the lineup would be huge. It would give the lineup absolutely no weak spots beyond the pitchers slot. His addition may give the Reds the best offense in the National League. The defense is the question, and it’s almost certainly going to be a downgrade from Billy Hamilton. But if he can be solid out there, or even just not terrible, it’s very likely to be an upgrade to the team overall. And possibly a big one.

60 Responses

  1. Tom

    If he’s a fixture in CF the next 6 years, that will be a pretty amazing development for the franchise. In general, the OF lacks stability during that time. Meanwhile, Scooter, Dietrich, India and others can man 2b over the next 6-10 years.

    • Dollar Bill

      Senzel will take over second base at the 2019 trade deadline or 2020 at the latest.

      • MBZ

        Everyone seems to assume that Senzel will take over at 2B next season, but I agree with Tom, that India might be the more probable future 2B. It will be interesting to see who develops first, between (Trammell, Siri) or India. My bet is it will be India

      • CP

        India is at least a year plus away, and probably more like 2 or so. 2B will be open if Scooter isn’t extended and with Trammel/Siri in the wings, and a lot closer than India, it makes a lot of sense for Senzel to slide back to 2B. I think that’s why everyone thinks this. But you never know I guess….

      • MBZ

        I do understand that India more than likely won’t be ready to go in 2020, or at least spring of 2020. There is also no guarantee Trammell or Siri will either. Siri has played at the highest level so there is an edge to him, but he still has to prove he can compete at these higher levels. My guess is a guy like this Dietrich could be the stopgap solution. There seem to be a Plethora of 2B’s out there. I could see an outfield in 2020 being Senzel CF, Schebler/Friedl RF Winker LF. 2021 Senzel RF, Trammell CF, Winker LF

  2. Tom

    Looking at his earning potential through the 2019 prism, Senzel will hit FA at 30 if he starts the year in Cincinnati. Unless he’s a superstar, he’s unlikely to get more than a 5 year deal at that point, probably in the 100-120 million range. If the Reds “do right” by him now, he might (when the time comes in a few years) sign an extension through his age 33 season for a team friendly amount.

    • Mjc

      Scott Boras wouldn’t give a discount/break to his mother. Bottom line if Senzel starts year in mlb we lose a full year of his prime,for 2 weeks of rookie play.on a non contending team.

      • Tom

        Rather than assume Williams and staff are unaware or uninterested in your strategy, I’m more interested in what they might be acting in such a way for. It’s quite easy to play it closer to the vest, make it all seem inevitable he’s going to AAA, then actually do that and call him up after 2 weeks. It’s not hard to pull that off. But that’s not what we are seeing. Something else is in play.

      • CP

        Scott Boras is no longer Senzel’s agent…

        So you’re saying there’s a chance!!

  3. beroader

    Moving Senzel around the field reminds me of Pete Rose. He was primarily a 2nd baseman from ’64-’66, an outfielder from ’67-’74, and then moved to third base from ’75-’78.

    • Oldtimer

      Good point. Rose was primarily 1B from 1979 through 1986 (latter years with Reds).

  4. Stock

    I have renewed hope for a trade with the Dietrich signing. Time to trade Gennett and then upon doing so extend Dietrich for 4 years with two team option years.

    Three team trade:

    To the Reds from the Padres: Franmil Reyes, Manuel Margot, Jose Castillo
    To the Reds from the Indians: Cory Kluber

    To the Indians from the Reds: Scooter Gennett, Scott Schebler, Tanner Roark, Gutierrez and maybe some cash
    To the Indians from the Padres: Two 100 – 150 range prospects

    To the Padres from the Reds: Taylor Trammell, Jonathan India
    To the Padres from the Indians: None

    Dietrich and Margot can platoon with Senzel playing where CF vs. LHP and 2B vs. RHP.

    • Oldtimer

      Dietrich is a career utility INF for the most part. Gennett was 2018 NL All-Star. The former does not replace the latter.

      That 3-way trade will NOT happen. But LOL anyway. Thanks for that.

      • Stock

        I agree this trade will never happen. Too many pieces. I am just saying the Reds would benefit from this trade.

        That said you really do not know what you are saying when you call Dietrich a career utility INF. Gennett played 6 more games than Dietrich last year and 5 more in 2017.

        Lets compare Dietrich and Gennett:

        I have no doubt that given two realitively equal players the player who plays half his games at GABP will look better than the one playing half his games in Marlins Park. So lets compare the 2018 Road stats:

        Dietrich: .290/.363/.496/.859
        Gennett: .319/.371/.494/.865

        Looks pretty even to me.

        Now lets look at the stats the three years before being acquired by the Reds.

        Dietrich: 4.7 WAR
        Gennett: 2.2 WAR

        These two sets of numbers include Dietrich’s stats from 2015 – 2018. But with Gennett they are numbers from 2014-2016 and 2018. So lets add Gennett’s 2.2 2017 WAR to his total.

        Dietrich WAR (2015-2017): 4.7
        Gennett WAR (2014-2017): 4.4

        Even with one less year Dietrich had a higher WAR.

        If you followed Yelich’s move from Marlins Park to a hitter’s park last season you would know that great things could happen with Dietrich this year.

        Finally Dietrich’s Road OPS vs. RHP in his career is .830. So if he is a platoon player as my post presents he has proven over his career he is as good as Gennett and his .847 OPS from last year.

        At least this time you were not so foolish as to drop the mic because just like yesterday you are wrong.

      • Oldtimer

        I will be at the Reds vs Indians game on Saturday Feb 23 in Goodyear. I’ll seek out the Indians GM and pass along your trade suggestion. LOL.

      • Oldtimer

        Where’s Dietrich? Here are Top 10 2B in MLB…

        Top 10 Second Basemen Right Now!

        1. José Altuve, Houston Astros

        2. Jed Lowrie, New York Mets

        3. Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals

        4. Robinson Canó, New York Mets

        5. Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers

        6. Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati Reds

        7. Joey Wendle, Tampa Bay Rays

        8. Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees

        9. Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs

        10. DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees

      • Stock

        Nice top 10 list. Of course Dietrich played a total of 14 innings at 2B last year so it would be difficult to classify him as a 2B.

        That said he would not be in my top 10 either. Of course you don’t seem to read my post very closely before you become critical. Please note that my suggestion was to use Dietrich in a platoon situation, thus maximizing both the attributes of Dietrich and Margot.

        The beauty of this is Dietrich costs $2 million and Gennett cost $10 million.

        This does not mean there is a chance that Dietrich will not be like Gennett or Yelich and suddenly take it to the next level this year. Just that at his current level this is a great move and allows us to improve our pitching dramatically without a drop-off in offense.

      • Stock

        I am just glad you didn’t seek out Bob Howsam during the 1971 season because you would have laughed at him if he suggested trading the great Tommy Helms and Lee May to the Astros for Morgan, Menke, Billingham and Geronimo.

        You were probably so upset when that trade was announced. I think you may have been thinking Frank Robinson #2.

      • Stock

        Dietrich will never be cheaper. If the Reds would have extended Gennett for 4 years after 2017 I think they could have inked a $25 million dollar deal. Instead they get two years at $15 million.

        I would wait until toward the end of ST to see what his role would be. And if Gennett is not traded it is a moot point because he is nothing more than utility player.

    • Big Ed

      Stock, you are a fine man, but nobody in North America has a bigger man-crush on Manuel Margot than you do.

      • Stock

        Lol. Just think the time to buy is when the value is low.

        He has a good swinging strike %. He has a solid hard hit/soft hit ratio. He is in the upper third in exit velocity on line drives and fly balls.

        A lot to like. Any SD hitter is under valued. Just like any Miami hitter is under valued.

  5. Jim t

    Will be very surprised if Kemp leaves Goodyear with the team. Even if it means eating almost all of his contract to make it happen. They have to move him if they intend to get Everyone at bats.

    • andybado

      Kemp doesn’t seem to fit in this lineup anywhere. With Senzel in CF and Puig, Winker, and Schebler in the corners, he would ride the pine a lot.

      I’m curious if the Reds would cut him (if they can’t trade him) to free up a bench spot for a more versatile, young, and/or controllable player — like Connor Joe — OR to assure a spot for Stephenson in the bullpen.

      • Oldtimer

        Kemp is better than Winker or Schebler. They are LH bats; he is RH. He can play RF; neither of them can play it well. He was NL All-Star in 2018. The only way Winker or Schebler get to All-Star game is to buy a ticket.

      • Norwood Nate

        Winker had a better OPS+ and better wRC+ than Kemp last year.

      • Stock

        I agree with Andybado and Norwood. Winker is much better than Kemp. Also, I do not understand why you would think he is a better defensive player than Schebler. Kemp is nothing more than a DH whom you stick in LF as an attempt to hide his inability to play defense.

      • Oldtimer

        Regardless of whatever numbers or stats you cite, Kemp has a better MLB record than Winker or Schebler. Maybe even Winker AND Schebler.

      • Big Ed

        Well, Willie Mays has a better record than Winker, too, but I would take Winker over Mays for 2019.

      • MBZ

        No way would they cut an All Star to make room for a role player. It amazes me how many people forget how productive he was last season. Outside of Senzel maybe joining the mix, the 4 outfielders should rank in descending order: Puig, Winker, Kemp, and then Schebler.

      • Norwood Nate

        So you don’t like the numbers I cite…even if they’re the best two sets of stats that measure overall offensive contribution and contribution to runs being scored in a year they both played. So we can get a direct comparison that shows Winker was better than Kemp last year. And you counter by citing counting stats for a guy who’s played 13 seasons vs a guy who’s played in two seasons? C’mon man that’s not apples to apples and I think you know that.

        You know who else was an All-Star at some point, Travis Wood, Dioner Navarro, and Adam Duvall. Being an All-Star doesn’t carry the weight you’re giving it.

      • Oldtimer

        Kemp is a multi-year All-Star. Most recently LAST YEAR (2018). Winker and Schebler, nowhere close.

        Reds fans can be two pair short of a full house in poker (sometimes).

        This is a franchise that has won 3 WS and 6 NL pennants in my 67 years on this Earth. Not the worst but nowhere near the best.

    • Jim t

      Oldtimer Kemp fits nowhere in the future of this team. There is a reason he has bounced around from team to team recently. The reds took him on to get rid of Bailey. With any luck some team in AL will need a DH and the reds can move him.

    • Wes

      Schebler is odd man out. Sorry reds homers but this even it close. It’s your 5th outfielder- you for sure make that kemp over him. He’s a proven vet that’ll get a couple hundred at bats. That’s got kemp wrote all over.

      Be nice to just roll into season with no Schebler or bobsteve. Time to move on. You could prob get rays to trade you a top 5 organizational peanut salesman for em both.

      • CP

        I understand the frustration with Bob Steve but I don’t with Schebler. He has the potential to be a very nice 4th outfielder for the next competitive Reds team. He’s been at least average to above average in a few areas in his game when healthy. That is the definition of a 4th OF.

      • Ryan

        @Wes, what has Schebler ever done to you man? Lol . He’s making ML minimum this year and will be a real nice option for a 4th OF. Injuries have definitely slowed the man down but he’ll help more than he hurts.

        Kemp is helpful b/c he is a RHH with traditional splits on a team with tons of LHH, or reverse split rightys. He plays bad defense and had a bad second half of 2018… So while he’s helpful i dont think he’s starting over a healthy Winker or even a healthy Schebler.

    • MuddyCleats

      Kinda what I keep thinking? IMO, Stock is asking too much, but I think a Kluber & Allen trade could take place IF Reds R willing to give up some quality prospects. Kemp could provide them w/ a nice RHH DH option & OF help which they currently don’t have? My guess is, Indians would want SP & additional OF help in return? Not sure why Indians would want to give up Kluber other than it’s been widely reported. How nice would it b to have Kluber and Gray locked up for another 3 yrs; can’t remember last time Reds had SP that strong to build around

  6. Cguy

    Gee, a little premature for the manager to “expect” Winker to get 500 AB this season. This is something Winker has yet to achieve over the course 6 full seasons as a pro. He did have 500+ PA in 2015 at the AA level, but as for AB never even 450+. It’ll be tough for Bell to keep penciling in Winker’s name in the lineup vs LHSP with Senzel, Puig, Kemp, & Schebler on the roster.

    • RedsKoolAidDrinker

      It’s that time of year to drink all th KoolAid you can get!!!!

    • WVRedsFan

      check out Winker’s on base percentage against left handed pitchers… he drew alot of walks against them, that’s pretty impressive for a rookie… Winker isnt sitting the bench

      • MuddyCleats

        He does nothing 4 me. Slow, lacks power and only avg in OF w/ weak arm……all the BBs in the world doesn’t make up 4 that. No doubt, getting on base is important, but this obsession w/ OBS is beyond over the top. Time & again, we’ve seen Votto & many others LOB due to Reds inability to hit w/ RISP. The kid has shown more power in ML than he did in minor leagues which is interesting. If that continues to improve along w/ the walks and better Def play emerges…….then they have something. IMO, I’d consider trading the over valued OBS before he regresses @ ML level?

      • Nep O'Tism

        Muddy, interesting thing about Winker’s power so far in the majors. It’s shown to be a bit more than expected.

        If you look at all batters in the 17-18 seasons (min 400 PA), he ranks 198th out of 344.

        Not anything to write home about, but it’s average-ish power. Average-ish power, plus hitting .300, plus a 13.6% walk rate. He has a career 130 wRC+ in the majors. Out of the same 344 batters with 400+ PA between ’17 and ’18, Winker is 33rd in wRC+.

        Other people with a 130 wRC+ in that time span? Anthony Rizzo, Nolan Arenado.

  7. Bill

    Just imagine this lineup:

    Senzel. CF
    Votto. 1B
    Suarez. 3B
    Gennett 2B
    Puig. RF
    Winker. LF
    Peraza. SS
    Barnhart. C

    LH Bench: Schebler, Dietrech
    RH Bench: Kemp, Casilo

    Ready @ AAA: Ervin, Blandino, Farmer, Trahan.

    Reds would have to be comfortable using either Senzel or Suarez at SS on occasion. But that’s a pretty nice lineup/bench.

    • CP

      I love this line-up. I have been drooling over a line-up with Senzel at CF or SS for what seems like 2 years now and it’s so close to coming to fruition. If the rotation can just be average this team could really surprise some people this year!

      • CP

        It will be interesting to see whether Bell shy’s away from putting Senzel towards the top of the line-up right off the bat with him being a rookie. I think he could be a great lead-off/2 guy in the line-up, but he has to prove he deserves it. I like both Ryan and Bills line-up’s. I could see them dropping Senzel a bit lower till they see him prove himself a bit too though:

        Winker
        Suarez
        Votto
        Puig
        Scooter
        Senzel
        Pereza
        Barnhardt

        Good part about this line-up is it puts three straight way above average OBP guys in front of Puig and Scooter. The RBI opportunities for those two would be enormous! Both of them are in their free agency year, so this spot gives them a perfect opportunity to “secure the bag” and perform in a way you know they are wanting too. Then there is some back to back speed in front of the patient Barnhardt. Barnhardt makes a great 8 guy because he knows how to handle being pitched around when they are trying to get to the pitcher. One way or another there is going to be a very quality hitter in the 6 hole of the line-up (Scooter/Puig/Winker/Senzel).

    • Doug Gray

      Get your box of Crayola’s out and color me crazy, but I’m choosing to look at the bright side of this one.

  8. Ryan

    Fun fact Dietrich has the highest hbp rate ever(min. 2000 PA’s). His new teammate Tanner Roark has hit him 7 times lol.

  9. TJ

    Doug:

    I absolutely hate when I read kudos from major sports writers that another comparable team did what the Reds should have done. The Padres signed Machado. They signed Hosmer last year, giving them a star lefty 1B, a new star righty SS and a top minor league system. Machado is one of (now) 5 SS/3B to reach 26 years old with a 30+ WAR. Three of those (Vaughan, Mathews, Ripkin) are hall of famers, the other is Arod. When you have a chance to get a 26 year old star for nothing but cash, you do it.

    Kudos to the Padres, a team that gets it. And I don’t want to hear about pitching….because there isn’t any riskless comparable on the side available. If there was I’d support it. There isn’t.