- Born November 14, 1989 in Punto Fijo, Falcón, Venezuela.
- Competed for Latin America’s Little League World Series team.
- Bats: Both; Throws: Right
- Was not heavily scouted due to his small stature.
- Avid fan of cheesesteak and Chinese food.
- Signed out of Venezuela as a 16 year old, by the Phillies on July 2, 2006.
- Made MLB Debut on April 5, 2012, at second base for an injured Chase Utley.
- Traded to the San Diego Padres on December 15, 2017.
- Granted free agency after the 2018 season.
- Signed a one year, $4 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays for the 2019 season, with a club option for 2020.
- Was waived by the Blue Jays and subsequently picked up by the Reds in August 2019. The Reds picked up the club option for 2020 at one year, $5.5 million.
- Free agent: 2021
The Reds shortstop position has been in flux for quite some time now, arguably since Barry Larkin called it a career, but we’ll focus on the more recent years. Throughout the last “good years,” the position mostly belonged to Zack Cozart, first as an all glove defensive whiz who then grew into a plus offensive player in his final couple years as a Red.
Cozart walked without the Reds getting anything in return after not finding anything on the trade block. Jose Peraza was supposed to be the heir apparent, but after a relatively solid 2018 campaign, Peraza lost his job all around the diamond, but mostly to Jose Iglesias at SS in 2019.
Iglesias played admirably at short in 2019, and was somewhat of a fan favorite by the end of the season. There were plenty of calls for the team to re-sign Iglesias, who was on the team after signing a minor league deal last offseason. Complicating that, though, was their midseason pickup of Freddy Galvis, a waiver pickup in August. Galvis, normally a slick fielding shortstop himself, ceded the position to Iglesias for the remainder of 2019.
However, the Reds decided to pick up Galvis’s $5.5 million team option for 2020 and, with that, bid adieu to Iglesias (who subsequently signed with the Orioles). They also declined to tender a contract with Peraza and, despite being in nearly every rumor this offseason with seemingly every big name shortstop on the trade block, stood pat at the position.
So Freddy Galvis is your 2020 Opening Day shortstop, essentially by default.
Galvis and Iglesias profile in very similar ways, really. They’ll both be 30 years old this season. Both put up two over their best offensive seasons over the last two years, Iglesias with an 86 OPS+ in 994 PA over the last two seasons vs. Galvis’s 90 OPS+ in 1245 PA. They’ve done it in different ways; Iglesias’s recent calling card is a high-ish batting average fueled by contact, while Galvis has recently found the pop in his bat (36 dingers over the last two season, one of which played in Petco Park).
They’re both very capable on defense. Iglesias and Galvis both tallied 12 outs above average, a relatively new category from Statcast. That ranked 9th in all of MLB (accounting for ties). Jose Iglesias won over a lot of Reds fans with his glove in 2019; they will not be disappointed with Galvis.
Still, Galvis and Iglesias offer the same type of value in different ways. Galvis will strike out more than Iglesias (quite a bit more, likely) while walking about the same amount of time (which is to say, not a lot). Still, Galvis hits the ball quite a bit harder when he puts the bat on the ball, sitting in the 35-ish percentile in both Hard Hit% and Exit Velocity (vs. Iglesias’s abysmal marks from 2019, <5th percentile). Coupled with his better launch angle, Galvis is going to rip one quite a bit more often than Iglesias.
It doesn’t feel like there’s much of a point to all of this, but if there is one, it’s this: Freddy Galvis’s value is probably going to look very fairly familiar this season, though it’ll be a different aesthetic, and one that probably won’t be quite as endearing. He’ll pop timely dingers, but also strikeout swinging in uglier fashions than his predecessor. It all gets the same job done, I suppose.
And that’s really all to say neither guy was very good at the plate last season, and it’s no wonder the Reds were involved in every rumor that moved for a shortstop last season. They just found the price to be higher than they were willing to pay, either in salary or assets. They’ve built the offense up in other ways, so having a light hitting, slick fielding SS shouldn’t be the death knell for this team by any stretch. The biggest problem for the 2020 Reds is that there really isn’t much of a backup plan. If Galvis is bad, or gets hurt, there’s no one on the team right now that projects to be any better at the position. Could Kyle Farmer or Alex Blandino hit as well or marginally better in a season at SS than Galvis? Maybe. Could they field as well? Very probably not.
In that perspective, Galvis’s performance isn’t necessarily a key to the Reds success... as long as he’s the guy he’s always been. If he’s worse, or he’s hurt, the position becomes much, much more of a concern.