The Reds have a ton of studs who can play second base. Scooter Gennett is finally healthy (though he will be a free agent at the end of the season), Derek Dietrich (The Johnny Bravo of Earth 199999) mashed well enough for a solid month to cover the spread while Scooter was out, and Nick Senzel has proven his Swiss-army self out in center field (though he is a world-class defender at 2B and should be there long-term). But across the keystone at shortstop, the future is far less certain.
The Plan all along has been for Jose Peraza to be the solution at short. But at this point, he has had nearly three full seasons to show his ass. He’s hit well enough in stretches, but the troughs are deeper than the peaks are high. He started the season as the everyday second baseman after Scooter got hurt but soon gave way to Dietrich. He is currently the last man on the bench.
Nearly two years ago, I wrote about how the Reds had always planned on Peraza being the long-term shortstop and how they didnt really have a Plan B (I seriously recommend going back and reading that if only to get a sense of how the team has so dramatically changed in the intervening years). Nick Senzel and Alex Blandino are still in the organization, along with Blake Trahan, but none of them are viable options at shortstop for a whole salad of reasons. So as outlined there, Plan A isn’t working and Plan B was always a stretch, so it looks like Plan C is the only real option here.
All of that is to preface the headline. Jose Iglesias has spent his entire career as a regular ol’ regular shortstop, and this season has been no different. He spent the bulk of his career in Detroit, where he was a regular ol’ regular shortstop. He even made the All-Star Team in 2015. His OPS has always been between .650 and .700, relying mostly on batting average. He has always made his sandwiches with his glove, though, saving ten runs a season with his defense.
#BecauseCollusion, the Reds were able to pick him up on a minor-league deal this winter. He made the roster when Scooter got hurt and Peraza vacated shortstop to cover for him. And through the first half of the season, Iglesias has been a regular ol’ regular shortstop. He is hitting .286/.320/.398, which is good for an 84 OPS+. That just so happens to be his career average. But more importantly, he has anchored the infield defense. He has saved nearly a win with his D already, which ranks him among the best shortstops in baseball in that regard. He has also raked in high-leverage situations, hitting .316/.391/.526 with 18 runs batted in according to B-Ref. That’s not substantial or important in any way, but it is cute all the same.
Thom Brennaman is a moron, by the way.
There is still a half-season of baseball to play and the Reds are still very much in it. I wouldn’t expect (nor would I recommend) the Reds to worry about what they will do with shortstop for the 2020 season and beyond. But this is a stupid bloghole, not a baseball front office (not yet, anyway). I’m free to philosophize in whatever way I like (and quite literally free because I don’t get paid for this schlock). So given the performances of Iglesias and Peraza and the dearth of options in the minors, I think a contract extension for Iggy could be a prudent and sensible move. And you know what they say: prudence and sensibility wins championships.
There are a few options outside the organization worth considering. Didi Gregorius will be a free agent this winter and he is a standard deviation better than Iglesias. He’ll be more expensive too, of course. You never know who might be available on the trade market, either. Trea Turner would be très totes, and maybe the Giants would pay down Brandon Crawford and the $30 million he is owed for the next two seasons. Who knows what the hell the Indians are doing, so I’m going to dream of getting Frankie Lindor don’t wake me up. Turner and Lindor would cost a fool’s ransom in trade (if they are even gettable, which I doubt) and Crawford is aging like wet ham on the counter. So the prudent and sensible thing may well be to extend Iglesias.
Three years and $18 million seems prudent and sensible.