Moving on to the next position in this series, today we are going to look at a position that is locked up longer than just about any position in baseball. The Cincinnati Reds have Joey Votto locked up at first base through the 2023 season (with an option and a large buyout for the 2024 season). While it may seem a bit similar to the State of the Farm series, the purpose here is to look at the current Reds and the contract status of the players at each position and get into potential internal replacements for when those current Reds contracts expire.

Expires after the 2014 season: No one

As noted above, Joey Votto is locked up for the long haul. Unfortunately though, injuries do happen at times and while we don’t hope for them on anyone they are a part of the game and if it does happen it is nice to have someone waiting in the wings to help fill in.

Potential first basemen to come up during or after the 2014 season: Neftali Soto and Travis Mattair

The top bet here would be Neftali Soto, who has spent the last two seasons playing with the Louisville Bats and already is on the 40-man roster, giving him a big edge as the Reds wouldn’t have to make a roster move to add him. Offensively, his power plays but the rest of his game is a bit questionable. He has struggles with plate discipline and has since he signed. Travis Mattair spent his 2013 season in Pensacola and while a slow start held down his overall numbers, he rebounded well over the final four months of the season. He seems to struggle at the start of the season with a promotion, but rebounds after a few weeks. Offensively he is solid across the board once he gets things going. Defensively he is outstanding. Both players can also play third base.

Most likely to take over: Neftali Soto

From a skillset point, I don’t think there is a huge advantage one way or the other between the two guys, but with Soto being on the 40-man roster he gets the nod.

Wild card pick: Travis Mattair

This was a tough pick given that there was only one option. If Mattair goes out in 2013 and breaks out, he could leapfrog Soto despite his lack of a 40-man roster spot.

Expires after the 2015 season: No one

Once again, Joey Votto is locked up for the foreseeable future, so there probably won’t be anything opening up for the long run. There is always the potential chance that an injury opens up a spot though.

Potential First Basemen to come up during or after the 2015 season: Seth Mejias-Brean and Steve Selsky

Neither of these guys are true first basemen, but both have found themselves playing the position at times in order to get everyone in the lineup at bats. These two guys were awarded either the Reds MiLB Player of the Year Award (Seth Mejias-Brean) or the Reds MiLB Hitter of the Year Award (Steve Selsky) over the past two seasons. I would give the edge for the top spot to Seth Mejias-Brean here despite him being a level lower. I just have a little more faith in his bat. Mejias-Brean has some upside to work with and an advanced approach at the plate with room to grow in the power department. Selsky got off to a rough start in Pensacola and found himself in Bakersfield for most of 2013 where he hit well. Selsky has some pop in his bat, but his plate discipline isn’t as strong as Mejias-Brean has, though it is still solid. Both guys will have chances to break in at other positions, but at least for now are the most likely to see time from the group of current minor leaguers at first base for this time period.

Most likely to take over: Seth Mejias-Brean

As noted above, Mejias-Brean just brings more upside at the plate and in the field than Selsky does and he may even be more polished in those aspects outside of current power. His game is very well rounded where he is solid or better across the board with some upside that he could still tap into.

Wild card pick: Steve Selsky

Much like the previous pick, Selsky is the only choice left here. While it isn’t a stretch at all for Selsky to be here by 2015/2016 he is the wild card pick by default. He seems to be solid all around on offense and defense, but he needs to show that his 2013 time in Pensacola was merely a slow start rather than pitchers at that level understanding how to get him out.

For more from this series, click here.

12 Responses

  1. MK

    Doug, I guess I would have to place Donald Lutz not far behind Soto and ahead of Mattair, especially since he is on 40 man as well. He might have the biggest upside of anyone you mentioned and has been moved to the outfield because of Votto.

    I hope they will keep Mejias-Brean at third as his outstanding defense is wasted at first.

    • Doug Gray

      Yeah, I completely had a brain fart with Lutz because I had him listed with the outfielders on my depth chart. I don’t doubt that Mejias-Brean/Mattair are viewed more as third base options, but with their experience at first base they were the best options for the time frames given for this series of articles.

  2. IndyRedsFan

    Your thoughts on Donald Lutz as a 1st base option?
    I would have thought he would have ranked ahead of Selsky.

    • Doug Gray

      To be perfectly honest, it slipped my mind. He very may well be up there, but with his playing left field last year I didn’t have him there on my depth chart and completely overlooked him. He would slide in with the Soto/Mattair group and probably has a write up quite similar to that of Soto.

  3. Krozley

    If nothing else, the Reds seem to have Hannahan covered if he goes down.

  4. Alan Horn

    If the Reds decided at some point to trade Votto, I have read that 1B might be Winker’s best position. It’s too early to tell if he will have the power for 1B, but it was just a thought.

    • Doug Gray

      I can’t see how the Reds could move Votto’s contract, even if they wanted to.

      I don’t think Winker makes the move to first base for a long, long time (mid 30’s, maybe).

      • Alan Horn

        Do you see Winker’s defense being good enough to stay in LF? Somewhere I read he may have to move to 1B. I have never seen him play.

      • MK

        I must admit I expected the worst from Jesse’s defense from the scouting reports and he started out average and really improved. So If his improvement continues he shouldn’t have a problem.

        I sat with his mom at a game and he happened to take a bad route to a ball while we were talking and she says they know what they scouting report says and he is really driven to improve.

      • Alan Horn

        Thanks Mk. That sounds good. Not having seen him play had me worried.

      • Doug Gray

        Basically what MK said. I think unless he really gets bigger and loses a few steps that he should be fine for quite a while out there.

      • Alan Horn

        Thanks Doug. We could have a crowd in the OF in a few years(a good problem). Bruce, Hamilton, Ervin, Winker and Rodriguez. Trades or free agency could alleviate that though.