The rumors of the Cincinnati Reds being in the market for a shortstop this offseason have been fairly heavy. While they haven’t been linked directly to any specific shortstop, everyone believes they are looking at both the free agent market that includes Didi Gregorius, Marcus Semien, and Andrelton Simmons, as well as the trade market – having been linked with the Colorado Rockies in talks for Trevor Story.

While it’s almost assuredly not going to lead to finding a starting shortstop for 2021, the upcoming Rule 5 Draft could be a place where the team could find a backup option for 2021 and potentially something more a bit down the line. Of course, the Rule 5 Draft this year is a lot different than just about any other year ever. It comes after a year in which there was not a season for a majority of the players to have shown off the improvements that they made during the year, and many teams are looking at information – both scouting and statistical data – from over a year ago.

Most of the players that are on the radar, so to speak, are also players who were eligible and unselected in the Rule 5 Draft last year. But not all of them fall into that category. Los Angeles Dodgers middle infielder Omar Estévez is first-time eligible and could potentially fit an area of need for the organization. Estévez signed with the Dodgers for a $6,000,000 bonus out of Cuba in November of 2015 as a 17-year-old. He moved his way up through the chain for Los Angeles from 2016-2019, reaching Double-A where he hit .291/.352/.431 for Tulsa in 83 games.

He’s spent time at both shortstop and second base in his career – seeing more action at second base in 2019 than at shortstop. The scouting reports all suggest he’s a below-average defender at short, and only a so-so second baseman. With Cincinnati needing a shortstop for 2021, this could be a bit of a stretch for that position. Of course with more data than ever on where hitters are likely to hit the ball, perhaps Estévez could be a usable defender at shortstop today with that kind of help.

At the plate he’s improved nearly every step of the way up the Dodgers system. Pushed aggressively early on, he struggled at times. He reportedly made some swing changes in 2018 around midseason, and the results changed rather dramatically. In the final 67 games he hit .309/.373/.513 with 29 walks and 62 strikeouts. He only hit .242/.292/.392 in the first 61 games of 2018 with 16 walks and 76 strikeouts. While his power numbers didn’t quite carry forward into 2019 at the Double-A level, his strikeout and walk rates both remained at their improved rates from the second half of the previous season.

Omar Estévez has some upper level experience and some success (his OPS+ was 118 in the Double-A Texas League in 2019). And there’s a chance that perhaps he could provide some positional flexibility. This role, of course, may already be covered by Kyle Farmer, who can triple things up as an emergency catcher – but his bat isn’t anything to write home about, either. While Estévez doesn’t have a future star-caliber bat, it may provide an upgrade if not now, in the near future over what Farmer brings.

The Rule 5 Draft will take place on Thursday as the (virtual) winter meetings come to an end. The rules are still the same as they’ve been for a while – to select a player it will cost a team $100,000 and the player must remain on the big league roster for the full season or otherwise be offered back to the team they were selected from for $50,000.

18 Responses

  1. Greenfield Red

    If they don’t want to spend the money to sign a viable SS, use Alfredo Rodriquez at SS until Garcia is ready. That is a much better plan than trading Sonny Gray for a low ceiling everyday SS with a couple years control. He will only cost the minimum salary. The $7 million they paid for him is long gone. Might as well get SOMETHING for it.

    • Doug Gray

      Kind of the sunk cost fallacy here, though. That money is gone. If he’s not MLB caliber, don’t just try to use him simply because you did spend the money. Spend another $600,000 and get someone better on a league minimum deal.

      • Greenfield Red

        To me, using Rodriquez is better than giving away Gray for a low ceiling cheap SS with 2 or 3 years of control. I agree with you if they will spend the 600K as you mention… not if it involves Sonny Gray’s exit for nothing… a la Chapman.

      • MK

        Doesn’t sound like Dodger kid is MLB caliber defender, Alf Rod is that, so pick your poison. They have a good deal more money invested in Alf Rod. I would rather have the defense especially since in appears pitching will be downgraded.

    • Dave

      If reds trade a #1 or #2 starter in Grey whom is making half what he’s worth I’ll never watch or go to another reds game. It’s ridiculous to trade a pitcher of his caliber and cost. Wake up Castelllini.. Charge more for ya produce.

  2. Linkster

    Good Call Doug! If they sign a big time SS (doubtful), then Estevez can be another IF bench guy like Farmer.

  3. Tom

    I’m definitely no Iglesias Super fan but the return looks bad and indicates it only being a salary dump. Discouraging to say the least. I’m suddenly very against seeing Sonny Gray go. I have little faith a transaction would be done in the interest of improving the team.

  4. Shawn

    I was all for Non tendering Bradley and Goodwin. I think Covid will drive down free agent prices so much we could get better players for the money it would take to keep them. I’m OK with Trading Iglesias for salary relief. I don’t think he was worth the money we were paying him. Of course this depends on how much money we are eating. If we trade Gray, which I hope we don’t, we should go all in and trade everyone that’s not ain’t under long term control. Gray, Castillo and Suerez would get a lot of great prospects in return. I’m a few years we could be setting where the White Sox and Padres are right now if we played it right.

  5. Tom

    With the bullpen depleted, Santillian could make the team in the bullpen?

    • The Rage

      Depleted??? The Reds still have Garrett,Sims,Lorenzen and Antone. Mercy this board.

  6. Tom

    Another question:
    Did the Reds find a future closer in the 2020 draft in Roa or Bonnin?

  7. Tyler

    How does the minor league portion of the rule 5 draft work? Who’s eligible? Does the selected player have to be and stay at a certain level all year or he has to get returned?

    • Doug Gray

      Eligibility is the same as it is for the big league version in terms of when one becomes eligible. Like the big league version, a player has to be “protected” onto the minor league rosters, but we as the public never get to see who is and isn’t protected here.

      And no, they don’t have to stay at any level or be offered back. Once selected they are now with the new organization.