It certainly feels like we’ve been waiting for the Nick Senzel era to begin with the Cincinnati Reds for eons now. Whether at 3B, 2B, SS, or CF, the idea that the top prospect in the system and former #2 overall pick would arrive and help set the big league Reds on a non-last path in the NL Central has been a realistic dream for a full year at this point, but injuries and some prodigious service-time manipulation from the Reds front office have kept that idea at bay for longer than everyone has hoped.
Turns out, that might not last too much longer, as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman hears that the Reds are finally considering calling up Senzel, and may do so as early as Friday.
Reds are contemplating promoting top prospect Nick Senzel to the majors and are expected to do so soon, possibly even when the team returns home Friday. Has adjusted nicely to CF. Big-time hitting talent who was No. 2 overall pick in 2016 draft.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) April 30, 2019
Senzel, you’ll recall, looked perfectly fine as the Reds regular CF in spring training, hitting well enough to also show he was clearly one of the 25 best players the Reds had in camp. Nevertheless, he was reassigned to minor league camp, his lack of experience as a CF cited, and he immediately sprained his ankle the very next day. That sidelined him to start the AAA season, but he’s picked right back up where he left off last year since returning, homering last night and picking up at least one hit in each of the six games he’s played.
Meanwhile, the Cincinnati OF has struggled something fierce in his absence, with only Jesse Winker truly showing any semblance of coming out of his early season funk. Scott Schebler has struggled tremendously as the regular CF, but both Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig have flanked him with poor performance to date as well, and the lackluster offense has largely been the reason why the Reds sit at just 12-16 and in last place (again) in the NL Central.
Two important points are worth noting.
One, obviously, is that Senzel does not yet have a spot on the 40-man roster, so that would need to be created. Odds are that Alex Blandino could get moved to the 60-day IL to create space - Blandino is recovering from torn knee ligaments and hasn’t yet started back on the rehab process, so moving him to that list likely wouldn’t impact his overall return date at all, and would also prevent the club from having to jettison a healthy player.
Second, though, revolves around the potential for this call-up to lead Senzel into Super Two territory. Over the last few years, somewhere in the range of two years and roughly 130 days of service time has been enough for players to qualify for Super Two status - giving them effectively four trips through the arbitration process instead of just three - and that ultimately means it costs teams a bit more money to control those players than if they manage to hold them in the minors for a few additional days. Calling up Senzel this week would, if all goes well from here on out, give him some two years and ~150 days of service time at the end of 2021, which would likely qualify him as a Super Two. Still, if he’s anywhere close to as good as we all hope, that’s a peripheral issue that shouldn’t in any way sway the Reds decision making process if he can make an immediate impact now on a roster that desperately needs him.
What’s clear, though, is that the Reds could use a jolt and have one of the absolute best prospects in all of baseball at the ready, and that means the Nick Senzel era in Cincinnati is just about ready to begin. Hopefully, they’ll make that move as soon as this week.