There was a time in the not-too-distant past where all the Cincinnati Reds wanted to do was field third basemen. Eugenio Suarez, former Red, was the third baseman, but he was flanked by a cadre of folks who had previously plied their trade at the hot corner, too.
There was Mike Moustakas, record free agent signing, as third baseman turned second baseman. That was quickly usurped by upstart Jonathan India, who took over as third baseman turned second baseman. Behind India on the diamond was Nick Castellanos, third baseman turned right fielder, while Kyle Farmer - who played third base more than any other position than catcher in the minors - took over as the everyday shortstop.
That was before the team’s frugal as hell owners decided to pull the rug out from underneath those players, the fans, and we bloggadocios. Suarez is gone in a salary dump to Seattle, taking All-Star Jesse Winker with him in a brazen, cowardly move by the team’s financiers. Castellanos is long gone into free agency, meanwhile, while Moustakas and his plantar fasciitis makes him the most logical designated hitter for this upcoming season - if the Reds don’t dump his salary to save coin, too. Farmer seized control of the shortstop position last year in the eyes of enough of the decision-makers to likely keep upstart Jose Barrero out of the job, for now, with Barrero getting reps in center field last September as a way to simply get him on the field at all.
All of a sudden, the Reds don’t have a resident third baseman - unless they very obviously do.
You know the Nick Senzel story by now. Drafted #2 overall out of Tennessee, highest rated Reds position prospect since Jay Bruce, swatted his way through the minors like the second coming of Paul Molitor - that guy. He did all of that only to have the Reds manipulate his service time, jerk him around the diamond, and eventually shove him into the outfield, a place where he’s consistently been unable to stay healthy for his first three years as a big leaguer.
He’s a third baseman. He was, at least. And while the Reds continue to abdicate any and all semblance of being a legitimate baseball team while giving players away left and right, they appear to be heading into a transitional phase at the very same time that Senzel is at a career crossroads, too.
The Reds have no outfielders, mind you. Perhaps their best on-paper outfielder at the moment is Barrero, who I’ve repeatedly said already is not an outfielder. Senzel might well project as the second best outfielder at the time being, and he, too, is not an outfielder. That said, given the dearth of options out there on the grass, it feels as if the general idea among many right now is to just move down last year’s depth chart and backfill out there.
Maybe instead of trying to patch over all the now-dismal holes on this roster, the Reds should simply try to focus on getting what things they can get right while the rest of the dumpster rages in conflagration. India at second is one, while Votto at first is another. Tyler Stephenson behind the plate packs piles of promise, and that’s just about it when it comes to things expected to be set in stone this year.
Why not finally find out if Senzel, a third baseman, can seize this opportunity at third, too? With literally nothing else on the line this season, why not give him the keys to the spot that for so long looked to be his in the first place?
What the hell do the Reds have to lose there now, anyway?
Ah, hell...they’ll probably just trade him.