The story has been told so often that the cover is wearing thin. The Cincinnati Reds are always a bit tight with money, always need to use it to sign pitching, and always look to move players as their team control runs down sans extension - especially when there is a talented, MLB-ready player already in the system ready to replace them.
For the Reds at the moment, that story revolves around 2B Scooter Gennett, who is again on the trade block, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal this morning from the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings.
There were initially some rumors during the 2018 season that the Reds might explore a contract extension with their All Star 2B, who hit 23 dingers as part of a 4.2 bWAR, 124 OPS+ campaign last year. Those, however, appear to have gone quiet, with Dick Williams seemingly pumping the brakes that a deal with Scooter was either a) on the cusp of happening or b) even a priority for the Reds at the moment, especially given their thirst for better pitching.
That leaves Gennett - who is projected to earn some $10.7 million in his final trip through arbitration this winter prior to free agency after the 2019 season at age 29 - as yet another Red with a rising price tag and a rapidly decreasing amount of trade value, the same situation the club has found with the likes of Zack Cozart, Devin Mesoraco, and then Billy Hamilton in recent seasons. Hamilton, of course, eventually was found to have zero trade market, and was non-tendered altogether earlier this winter, the ~$6 or so million that would’ve been due his way now set to get redirected back into the team. A trade of Scooter would certainly serve to add a lot more financial wherewithal to what the Reds could use to lure big time pitching, too.
Of course, the caveat with all of this is that the Reds have top prospect Nick Senzel waiting in the wings for 2B, though they’ve been willing to move him all over the place to get him into the 2019 projected lineup. With Hamilton’s non-tender, the concept of him taking over in CF became a hot one, though with the Reds now connected to AJ Pollock - who’ll be pricey as all heck - saving money by moving Scooter, sliding Senzel to 2B, and having Pollock patrol CF would be one way of ideally improving the offense, at least in theory.
The biggest hurdle the Reds will face will be finding adequate value for Scooter right this moment given the glut of available 2B options currently on the open market. Each of Brian Dozier, Marwin Gonzalez, Ian Kinsler, Josh Harrison, Asdrubal Cabrera, DJ LeMahieu, Daniel Murphy, and Jed Lowrie are free agents at the moment - among others - with the likes of Starlin Castro and Jedd Gyorko also potentially available on the trade block, so it’s certainly a buyer’s market when it comes to 2B. And, of course, there’s the portion of the Cincinnati fan base that will be outraged if the ‘same ol’ Reds keep trading away their good players,’ which while often prudent does become an issue with putting butts in seats - something the Reds had a major issue with during the 2018 season.
Although this time, it seems the Reds are committed to spending the kind of money this offseason that should have fans excited again by Opening Day, even if that money won’t be going to Scooter Gennett.