2019 got out to a disappointing start for Josh VanMeter. That was only because he did not get an invitation to big league spring training.  That didn’t happen despite performing very well over the final two months in Triple-A during 2018. But once the season began, everything has been coming up Milhouse. VanMeter tore up the International League in April. He took home the Player of the Month honors for the league and was embarrassing pitchers and their families along the way.

He didn’t let up, either when the calendar flipped. In his 49 games in Triple-A he hit .348/.429/.669. That came with 24 walks and 37 strikeouts to go along with 14 doubles, a triple, and 14 home runs. His performance earned him a call up in early May. Over the next two months he went back-and-forth between Triple-A and Cincinnati.

Josh VanMeter began getting more time as a starter of late, and he’s basically just kept on raking. In 43 games played for the Reds he’s now hitting .312/.418/.532 over 91 plate appearances with 12 walks and 19 strikeouts.

I’ve been beating the drum for a while now that the Cincinnati Reds need to find a way to get Josh VanMeter time in the lineup nearly every single day. I’m simply a believer that the changes he’s made in the last 13 months are real and that he warrants time every day. The approach is strong, the power is real (look no further than the 463-foot moonshot he hit last week), and he can play a little bit of everywhere. With the Reds trading Scooter Gennett on Thursday at the trade deadline it appears that, finally, after all of these years, the Reds are listening to me (they aren’t, at all), and plan to get Josh VanMeter time on a daily basis.

Reds General Manager Nick Krall joined local sports talk radio host Lance McAlister on Wednesday night. He talked about all of the trades that were made. One of the things that Krall said was this:

We just felt that this year a couple of guys in Josh VanMeter and Derek Dietrich took some steps forward and really progressed. And we also have Jose Peraza who can play second base. With Scooter being a free agent at the end of the year, we felt the need that these guys have come in and played well at different times and we need to find a way to get them playing time.

And for us we can get playing time to the guys that are playing well for us. Josh VanMeter is a guy who has really taken a step forward this year. We want to try and get his bat in the lineup and see what he can do on a daily basis. And this kind of gives him a chance to play.

You can listen to the entire interview right here.

Nick Krall didn’t come out and say that Josh VanMeter would play every day at second base. But that seems like where he will likely see the most time. The outfield is a bit crowded still. Jesse Winker has been hitting the ball well since the second week of April began (.287/.372/.514). Nick Senzel is the only guy remotely close to a true center fielder on the team. Phillip Ervin has taken advantage of his limited action, hitting .353/.421/.588 in 43 games. Then there’s Derek Dietrich, sporting an .863 OPS this season who has some time in the outfield, too. And none of that counts what would happen if they brought up someone from Triple-A. Aristides Aquino may very well be getting the call. That’s the news being reported on by Hector Gomez of Z 101 in the Dominican Republic.

Josh VanMeter gives Reds manager David Bell a lot of options. If a right-handed pitcher is on the mound and he wants to stack lefties in the lineup, VanMeter can slide out to left, allowing Derek Dietrich to play second, and Jesse Winker to play right. Unlike Winker or Dietrich, at least for this season, VanMeter has crushed left-handed pitching. In 75 plate appearances against them this season in Triple-A and the Majors he’s got an OPS of 1.142 against them. While there may be some time going to Jose Peraza at second with a left-hander on the mound, and the outfield being Phillip Ervin, Nick Senzel, and Aristides Aquino – among the lefties on the team not named Joey Votto, it’s VanMeter that could see time with another lefty on the mound.

Moving forward for the rest of the season, getting information on Josh VanMeter is important. If he showed over the next eight weeks that he can indeed keep on hitting then the offseason gets a little bit easier. It takes one spot off of the table that the team needs to address. In a scenario where he doesn’t, well, that gives the Reds the information that they do need to look for another potential option, too. Either way, for both VanMeter and the Reds, these next eight weeks are big. Get ready. This team looks a lot different today than at the start of the year. And it very well could be a preview-of-sorts for 2020.

About The Author

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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60 Responses

  1. MikeinSoCal

    All for it. Though I hope its 2B so we can see what Aquino can do. I don’t know what happened to Dietrich but his hitting went south. It seems he is looking for the walk or HBP whereas before he was totally aggressive.

    • The Duke

      Once pitchers find a hole in a swing, it’s going to get exploited by the entire league until a hitter can make an adjustment and close that hole or at least learn how to limit the damage.

    • RojoBenjy

      Mike- DD is what he is. And that is a bench player.

      Free tip- The Duke has much more street cred on this sight. Don’t embarrass yourself.

      • Ghettotrout1

        I confirm I think the Duke has a goodly amount of website cred.

      • Mike

        Street cred? Ok if you say so, lol. Van meter looks good so far so is it too much to ask to let us enjoy that? Why do so many people rush to the front of the lone to complain. Things aren’t perfect right now but they are better than they have been and some of us would like to enjoy the positive, is too much to ask after the last few years for you guys to let others have some fun? I promise that there will be plenty to complain about in the future, you don’t have to beat the crowd now

  2. The Duke

    Given how VanMeter and Ervin have been hitting, they need to see what they can do in an extended look and how they are facing the same pitchers multiple times and if they can adjust once word gets out on how to pitch them.

    1. Nick Senzel, CF
    2. Jesse Winker/Phillip Ervin, LF
    3. Joey Votto, 1B
    4. Eugenio Suarez, 3B
    5. Josh VanMeter, 2B
    6. Jose Iglesias, SS
    7. Aristides Aquino/Jesse Winker, RF
    8. Tucker Barnhart, C

    • Oldtimer

      Decent lineup. I’d prefer Winker in 2nd spot regardless. Ervin/Aquino in 7th. Otherwise seems about right. Casaili will split C with Barnhart when he returns from IL.

  3. Bromleyjake

    I still worry that Dietrich will be an obstacle to both VanMeter and Aquino getting regular time. They have already gotten everything they are going to get from Dietrich as I see it, yet he still occupies a rotational spot.

    I feel the same way about Peraza. He is a versatile player but doesn’t appear capable of being any thing more than average in any facet of the game.

    • RedsKoolAidDrinker

      I totally agree. Even if they got peanuts they should have traded Deitrich.

      Is it really far off to have wanted Crook promoted before Aquino? It does it have to do with Aquino’s arm and upside?

      • Norwood Nate

        Probably has to do with evaluation time. Aquino has used two options, and will have one left for next year if he’s not optioned back this season. Crook would have all his options remaining if protected this offseason which allows for more evaluation time later on. Plus, RF is Aquino ‘s most natural fit, where Crook can play all over the OF. With the opening in RF it makes sense to see Aquino there as his arm is a cannon.

    • Wes

      I’m not worried at all. A deep bench is essential and reds aren’t eliminated yet.

      There’s 3 types of fielders- all stars, every day players and platoons. Most every one falls into the 3rd category and it’s better to play matchups vs sending a slumping player out there bc u only have 8 quality players u play every day.

      Reds need all these guys and they’ll all get a chance to earn playing time and that’s how it should be

    • The Duke

      I said it at the time that I disliked losing Gray a whole lot more than losing Jeter Downs. Downs is having a solid year, but I stand by that statement. Gray would be a top 3 guy in our system right now.

    • Oldtimer

      Homer Bailey is 9-7 now. Trevor Bauer is 9-8. Shows how quirky W-L is.

      Homer has won as many games in 2019 as he did for Reds COMBINED in 2016, 2017, and 2018 seasons.

    • Wes

      I’m happy to see him gone and if it takes the rest of the farm for reds to put out a competitive team that I can still root for in May and June and July so be it ! I am amazed at how willing reds fans are to loose so they can root for a kid in A ball.

      Dodgers dug their feet in and wouldn’t trade without gray- that trade sat on shelf for 2 weeks from initial leak. reds wanted to win and pulled the trigger. Get over it!!!!!!!

  4. Rich

    I am glad that the Reds front office are taking this approach with VanMeter and I fully agree with Doug that the he should play 90%-to everyday for the rest of the season to see what he can do. This also means can he learn how to make adjustments as some others have commented. I also think that it is important to play him everyday for the rest of the season also to determine if he can he handle the grind day-in, day-out at the major league level.

    Many years ago the Reds had Paul Konerko and he crushed the ball in the minors much like VanMeter and the Reds played him sporadically until they eventually traded him to the White Sox for Mike Cameron (who was a good player). However, when the White Sox got him they said – Ok, we are going to play this guy everyday and give him at least 200 at bats to see what he can do. Well, the rest is history and some might say he is a borderline Hall of Famer. I have been reminded of this detail for many, many years for my best friend from college is a White Sox fan .

  5. Norwood Nate

    I think it sells Ervin a bit short to say he’s not remotely close to being a true CF. May not be a pure CF but he can definitely field the position fine from a speed/arm standpoint. The Reds don’t seem to want to play him there, which again seems odd when they play Winker there from time to time. I think Ervin could handle the job on a regular basis if called upon.

  6. MikeD

    With Van Meter’s potential for OBP and power, I believe he will diminish the loss of Puig’s output if not exceed it. That is just an opinion and hopefully opportunity will prove it. I am not in love with Bauer, but the Reds can once again find out by mid-2020 if they are contenders and if not, they can flip him. Interesting times.

    Deitrich is not anything more than a bench guy, and hopefully will be mostly that the rest of the way. If they determine they can’t sign Iglasiaes, they need to plan accordingly.

      • Oldtimer

        If you mean VanMeter, he was 1 of 13 for Reds in ST. It is not uncommon for MiLB players to get an AB early on as PH during ST games.

        I saw him play for Reds in ST. I was there first week (late February) of ST.

  7. Hoyce

    With the Bauer trade , it seems like the reds are fully on board and targeting high spin rate(which I’d say is the most important factor of pitching). Obviously u need to locate.
    I wonder if, since mlb is slacking off on foreign substances, maybe the reds are “teaching” the use of it a little more. Just a thought
    I know Bauer has some ideas on the matter and has actually experimented and measured the outcomes of such.
    I’d like to hear Doug’s evaluation on the subject

    • Oldtimer

      Rarely are #1 or #2 SP traded (especially mid year). Bauer is a rare exception. Greinke is another.

      Castillo still #1 on Reds but Bauer close #2.

  8. Schottzie

    Would the Reds consider signing Did Gregorious in the offseason? 3 for 40?

    • CP

      I’m not opposed to this idea. But I still think the Reds need to go after a legit RF as well, like Puig :). Wouldn’t it be great if in he off-season the Reds got Puig back?? I know it isn’t likely to happen, but it would make the Bauer trade a little easier to swallow for me.

  9. Oldtimer

    Who was highest rated MiLB prospect traded this week? Per MLB (clipped) it was:

    … So who were the best Minor Leaguers to change teams during this period? We’ve ranked each of the 32 prospects on team Top 30 lists who were moved ahead of this year’s Deadline:

    1. Taylor Trammell, OF, Padres, No. 30 overall (from Reds in three-team trade with Indians involving Trevor Bauer, Yasiel Puig)

    The Reds’ top-ranked prospect at the time of trade, Trammell has seen his production slip this year in Double-A, batting .236 with a .686 OPS, 17 extra-base hits (6 HR) and 17 steals in 94 games. However, there’s still a lot to like with regards to the 21-year-old’s ceiling as a corner outfielder who projects to hit for average as well as some power, with the ability to add value on the basepaths with his well-above-average speed. He gives the Padres yet another ultra-talented prospect in what is already an impressively deep farm system. On Padres’ updated Top 30 list Trammell ranks 3rd.

  10. Brad

    Reds Off-season (currently projecting at $95M):
    1) Offer Alex Wood Qualifying Offer
    a. He accepts: great, SP4 at $18.5M (total $113.5M)
    b. He declines: great, get a draft pick as compensation, hope he signs for $50M+
    2) Decide who of Reed, Romano, Stephenson, Sims can stick for 2020. I would start year with Stephenson, Reed and Romano in bullpen. Dont know on Sims. All 4 are out of options.
    3) Re-sign Jose Iglesias
    4) Remove FAs from 40-man: Hernandez, Hughes (dont see them picking up option). Remove Stephens, Trahan, Graterol, Alaniz, Schebler? Dietrich? Sims?
    5) Add to 40-man: Tyler Stephenson, Friedl, Santillan, Okey, Hendrix, Kuhnel.
    5) Sign 1-2 Free Agent Bullpen arms: (LHRP Will Smith…). Sign RH hitter.

    1. Senzel CF
    2. Winker LF/RF
    3. Votto 1B
    4. Suarez 3B
    5. Van Meter/Peraza/Blandino 2B
    6. Ervin/Aquino RF (FA?)
    7. Iglesias SS
    8. Barnhart/Casali C

    C depth: Okey, Stephenson
    INF depth: Farmer, Dietrich
    OF depth: Siri, Schebler, Friedl

    SP: Castillo, Bauer, Gray, Wood?, Desclafani, Mahle, Sims?, Santillan
    RP: Iglesias, Garrett, Lorenzon, FA?, Stephenson, Romano, Reed, Peralta, Bowman, Kuhnel, Herget, Hendrix, Mella

    40-man at 39 without FA RP and with Sims, Schebler and Dietrich

    • Oldtimer

      If Peraza or Blandino play 2B for Reds in 2020, neither would bat 5th in lineup.

      • Brad

        I would agree. Tried to base it off everyday hitter in Van Meter.

    • Colorado Red

      I think Jose Iglesias has 1 year of arbitration left.
      So, all you do is tender him, and he is yours.
      Might be a good idea to come to an agreement before arbitration.
      I do agree he is worth keeping.

      • Doug Gray

        Baseball Reference has him as a free agent after this season.

      • Martino

        Iglesias didn’t switch his agent(s) this season for nothing. His last agent(s) got him a minor league contract offer and he just happened to land on the roster and has played up to it and then some so I just don’t see him accepting any old low ball offer (nor a minor league offer) from the Reds this season. If they want to keep him they’re going to have to pony up some coin.. He’s poised to cash in and has earned it for the most part.

    • Tom

      I think this lineup still needs Didi.

      Also winker is a 20hr LF with avg defense. The lineup really needs a 900 ops bat in the OF.

    • MBS

      Assuming the Reds stick with a 4 man bench I’d not carry 2 full time catchers, when you can have Farmer cover that position as a super utility player.

      I agree with all of your starters, but I’d like O’Grady on the bench next year with Dietrich. Lefty power on the bench with both guys, and between them, they cover the entire OF, 3B, 2B and 1B.

      Peraza and Farmer would be my righties off the bench, unfortunately not much power but extreme versatility from those 2. You could make an argument of Aquino over Peraza, given that Farmer can cover all the positions Peraza can.

      I would like to add a (quality) LHP to the pen, I thought that Moss would possibly be that guy in 2020 along with Garrett, and Reed.

    • CP

      I like all your thoughts with the exception of also needing to go back after Puig or someone of his caliber. I like the look of something like this for the lineup:

      1. Senzel CF
      2. Votto 1B
      3. Suarez 3B
      4. Winker LF
      5. Puig/Ozuna/ect. RF
      6. VanMeter 2B
      7. Iglesias/Didi/Pereza SS
      8. Barnhart/Casali C

      Much more balance and depth here. They will really have to pay to go get a Puig/Ozuna/Didi but they have all that money coming off the books and they are clearly going for it in 2020.

  11. Patrick

    The reality is Jose Iglesias is an awful short stop. The dude only is a .5 fwar player this year and projects to be .7 fwar on the year. Last year playing full time Peraza was a 2.7 fwar player. Peraza still has upside and Iglesias is on the downward side of his career.
    We need to get rid of Iglesias he would be a great defensive replacement but the Reds do not seem to know how to use him properly.

    SS needs a real upgrade. I would like to see what it would take to get Adames from the Rays. They seem like they want to trade him for pitching.

    • Hoyce

      Do the reds have enough $ to trade and extend for lindor? That would be my first question
      Adames will be expendable when wander comes up
      Gregorius is a high priced option as is andrus
      But I agree ss is an obvious area of needed upgrade

    • Oldtimer

      Jose Iglesias is hardly an awful SS. He is an outstanding SS.

      • Redsvol

        I second this comment. Infield defense is dramatically upgraded when Jose Iglesias is on the field. I hope we extend him for 2 years because we have no-one internally for at least 2 years who is a better choice.

    • Colorado Red

      Not true, Defensively he is very very good with the glove.
      Offensively, he has had a sold year. By the way the dude is 1.1 year right now.
      Worth about 8 – 9 mil.
      (per baseball reference)

      • Doug Gray

        He hasn’t had a solid year at the plate. He’s been really bad.

      • Jefferson Green

        Iglesias’ career averages at the plate are bad, which is why not a single team signed him to a major league contract in the off season. For 2019, he is producing 28% less offensively than the average SS.

      • Oldtimer

        His career BA is .271 not bad for SS. Probably above average BA overall. The average BA is probably .250 (guessing) for all hitters.

      • Oldtimer

        In 2019 Iglesias has more RBI than Votto or Winker in same # of games. His career BA is higher than most Reds in everyday lineup.

  12. John C.

    The more thought I give the moves, the better I like them. Bauer certainly has his quirks, but we heard the same thing about Puig and we saw none of that. Bauer is certainly an upgrade to the rotation over Roark, especially the one we have seen since the all-star break. If Wood is for real, we have a pretty strong 5 we can throw at anybody and believe we can win just about any game.

    Puig has been pretty solid since he got out of his early season funk, but I think the majority of that can be replaced with Ervin and Aquino. I know that may be a bit of a stretch, but you just never know when you can find lightening in a bottle.

    Loved Scooter, but he is just a shell of what we had the last two years. Too bad he had this happen on his free agent year. Vanmeter will provide a boost both offensively and defensively.

    This team can be better than the one we had a week ago. I haven’t given up yet. There are still two months to play.

    • Norwood Nate

      I like Puig, and would be happy to see the Reds engage him this offseason as a FA.

      With that said, his OPS as an OF’er is pretty replaceable. In fact it’s the exact same as Schebler’s OPS last season and Duvall bested it twice as a Red.

      • Oldtimer

        Duvall was also pretty good LF defender. Puig is good RF defender. Reds don’t really have another good RF defender.

        How many SB did Schebler or Duvall have?

      • CP

        I agree his OPS could be better, but Puig brought more than just OPS to the table. He was a great base runner and played an above average RF defense with an elite arm. Plus who else are they going to get to lick their bat during plate appearances?? :)

  13. RojoBenjy

    Nick Krall forgot to give Freddy B the memo about Van Meter.

    Lol i’m sure it’s just a LHP matchup thing tonight. But it still looks hilarious.

    • Klugo

      I’m telling you. Nick Krall should just stop talking to the media.

  14. Steve Stockman

    VanMeter is the real deal. He is one of the two best hitters on the Reds. Winker and Senzel are one step below VanMeter and Suarez. Ervin is playing with mirrors. Once his BABIP regresses he will be on the bench.

    Was surprised and disappointed Doug gave VanMeter no credit on his midseason top 25 because the man can hit.

  15. Simon Cowell

    And then immediately he doesn’t start. Jeez.

  16. Martino

    I’m just not as excited about Aquino as some of you are. He’s a good FB hitter, but that’s about it. Good arm, but they still need more than that from him..From what I’ve read he can’t hit a breaking pitch to save his life unless it just hangs. Maybe I’m wrong and certainly hope I am, but I don’t see him as a long term solution unless he learns to smack on breaking pitches. He’s faced a lot of AAA arms, but AAA arms are not major league arms and the bigs do a lot more with scouting than AAA does with far better arms…