The Cincinnati Reds currently find themselves in an interesting situation. They don’t seem to have their bench remotely close to being figured out. Part of that is because of the circumstances around Devin Mesoraco and just what he will be able to do when they begin playing games. Still, they seem to only have one backup on their 40-man roster for either the infield or outfield that appears locked in – Arismendy Alcantara. Tucker Barnhart is certainly going to be there as well, but until we know where Mesoraco sits, we don’t know if Barnhart’s role to begin the year. That brings us to Dilson Herrera.

When the Reds acquired him from the New York Mets on August 1st in the Jay Bruce trade, they referred to him as the future second baseman. At the time the organization had Brandon Phillips at the position. After his trade last week to Atlanta, the Reds announced that Jose Peraza would be the starting second baseman. In the long run, the team would probably prefer to get him time at shortstop, but with Zack Cozart still on the roster, that’s not going to happen yet. That leaves Dilson Herrera without an every day position to play.

Every scouting report on Dilson Herrera has suggested that he’s basically limited to second base as a defensive player. His range is a bit limited at second, and his arm doesn’t stand out – though it plays fine at the position. Bryan Price mentioned earlier this week that he hoped to look at Herrera at other positions. That’s important for a few reasons. First, he’s the only non-starting infielder on the 40-man roster aside from Alcantara, who is actually listed as an outfielder. If he can handle another position, then his spot on the 25-man roster to start the season could mean the team doesn’t have to make a 40-man roster move to clear a spot for a different backup infielder.

In limited big league time in both 2014 and 2015, Dilson Herrera has no experience anywhere but second base. We need to go back to 2014 in the minor leagues to see him show up at another position. That season he started 25 games at shortstop between Advanced-A and Double-A. Prior to that season, he didn’t show up at any position besides second base unless we go back to 2011. That season, as a 17-year-old, he started 56 games at third base. He didn’t start a game at any other position. He did play three innings at second base as he slid over to the position in two games.

It’s been nearly six years since Dilson Herrera last saw action at third base in a game. He was a raw 17-year-old at the time and playing in the now defunct Venezuelan Summer League for the Pirates. That may change this year, and we are seeing the early plans at work in spring training today. Here’s what Jim Day tweeted out just a few minutes ago:

It’s early in the process, so we don’t know how it will work out. From a scouting perspective, there may be some concerns about just how well his arm will play at the position even in a backup role. Aside from that, would it be better for both Dilson Herrera and the Cincinnati Reds in the long run to have him play every day in Louisville, even if that meant splitting some time at both second and third, while getting every day at-bats until there’s a spot for a similar role in the big leagues? I believe that would serve everyone better. It seems to make more sense than trying to find 15 at-bats a week for Herrera in the big leagues, which would mean taking them away from Peraza, Cozart and Suarez as everyone would shift around to make room.

48 Responses

  1. Joey Votto

    The real question is if he can be above average with the bat. If so, we’ll find a position for him

    • Muddy Cleats

      Situation should have already been resolved; Cozart should have been traded by now! Two things rub me raw on the topic: one Cozart is NO Joey Votto! Nice guy I’m sure, but avg SS IMHO. Moreover, he has NO future w/ the Reds & I don’t see why Reds feel obligated to play him everyday @ this PT?? Secondly, Herrera is NO BP either, yet it is time 2 see what he can give the team. IMO, Reds should start Pereza & Herrera together at least 2-3 times a week and Cozart should be the odd man out!

  2. MK

    Do we know how many options he has left? His mlb debut was 2014 so chances are he has used at least two (’15 and ’16) as I can not imagine he was removed from 40-man. At most he should have one left, if that.

    • Doug Gray

      He has one. He was never optioned in 2014. Optioned in 2015 and 2016.

  3. Clammy

    It seems obvious that Peraza is a better fit for utility player, as he can play 4 positions (LF, CF, 2b & ss). If Herrara is ready, start him at 2b 4x a week and bat him 8th (unless Tucker starts). Peraza can fill in at these positions and still play 5 times a week. This improves the bench as well with Duvall, Cozart, Hamilton available when Peraza fills in. Schebbler can sit vs tough LH, Peraza plays LF, Duvall goes to RF.

    • Doug Gray

      The thing is, Peraza is also likely a better fit as the starting second baseman. And if Peraza slides into the utility role, you’re taking at-bats away from Duvall, Hamilton, Schebler, Cozart and Suarez – all the while, probably keeping Peraza from developing some sort of defense. The odds that Cozart is going to be a Red by the time August gets here are slim. When he’s gone, slide Peraza over, bring up Herrera and go with the flow. Until then, I’d rather just have Peraza start six days a week at second and have Herrera in Louisville.

      • RedsFaninPitt

        Doug:

        I bet Herrra’s bat will be more valuable than any of those players. I am telling you this guy can hit and has always hit.

      • Doug Gray

        I don’t doubt he’ll outhit Cozart. And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he outhit Peraza, or maybe Suarez. But, there’s more to value than just the bat. Herrera’s not going to come close to matching Peraza on the bases or in the field. Suarez…. I wonder what his power’s going to develop into. I think there’s possibly a 30 HR season for him, and if he gets that, I’m not sure Herrera can catch him in value.

      • Ghost of BP

        In my view, Peraza has an upside similar to Beep’s 2016, which is useful offense, limited power, average defense. In other words, he will always have to prove his worth, his entire career. Herrera is the one with higher upside. Why use Peraza at 2B when that is not projected to be his long term position? Herrera is ready, give 2B to the guy who plays the position and has the higher upside.

      • Doug Gray

        Well, Peraza was a better hitter, at 22, in the big leagues, than Phillips was last year. He’s got significantly more base running value than that version of Phillips. He’s got more defensive value, too (especially if they play him at shortstop).

        Let’s talk about Jose Peraza’s actual upside. We’ve seen him hit .324 in the big leagues. That’s probably his upside, and honestly, I’d be surprised if he ever hit that again. But let’s call his upside a .300 hitter – I don’t think that’s outrageous. So, he’s a .300 hitter, with 10-12 home run power, 40+ steal ability and he’s a shortstop. That’s 5 WAR. I’m not sure Dilson Herrera’s got a 5 WAR upside. He’s a .285 kind of hitter, 15-20 HR, not much base running value, not much defensive value – if any at all.

        Essentially, I think you are sleeping on what kind of upside Peraza has. The only place where he doesn’t stand out, is power. And while he hasn’t shown the over the fence power yet, I think he’s going to hit more home runs over the next few years. Never going to be a big home run guy, but I think low double digits is doable.

        With Herrera, I think there’s certainly more upside with the bat. No question. But he’s so far behind in base running and defense, that it’s tough to overcome. Now, that statement only applies if Peraza can actually play shortstop on a daily basis. If Peraza is ultimately a second baseman, then that changes the math some.

      • Ghost of BP

        I am not sure I agree with your potential of 40 SBs for Peraza. Last year (minors and MLB), he stole 31 but was caught 17 times. That CS% means he was for actually a detriment to the team attempting to steal bases. He might be able to steal 40, but not to the benefit of the team if it takes 60+ attempts. In regard to hitting, if he hits .300, a big IF, he’s still likely under the league average OBP (.330 for non-pitchers) due to poor plate discipline. That’s not good for someone with limited power. I just don’t see the upside for Peraza.

      • Doug Gray

        Well, I think he’s going to be able to grow into his speed with more experience. Also, big league scouting reports are going to be better on pitchers and their moves. That’s going to help, probably.

        Also, Peraza doesn’t have poor plate discipline at all. He just doesn’t draw walks. There’s a huge difference.

        It just seems you’re confusing likely with upside.

      • Ghost of BP

        I shouldn’t have said poor plate discipline. It’s just his approach that limits walks. But that same approach, swing early and often, could make him more susceptible to pitchers eager to expose his weaknesses in his sophomore season.
        He has to bat .300 or over just to achieve league average OBP given his very low walk rate. He has a very high bar there.

      • Doug Gray

        Yes, but as a middle infielder, he doesn’t NEED to be a league average bat. It would be nice if he were, of course, but as a middle infielder, the bar is lower for what a bat is. At least as things stand right now, it’s lower for shortstops than second basemen. Maybe that changes with a real interesting crop of shortstops that are just arriving and nearly here – but right now, the bar is lower for shortstops.

        ZiPS projects the two of them to be of the same value for 2017. I take issue with that, because when we look at how the numbers break down, it rates Herrera as a better defender than Peraza, and no one on the planet believes that to be true. The system is punishing Peraza because he played out of position last year and it doesn’t know any better. So his defensive value is taking a hit because it thinks he’s a left fielder sometimes – and he’s not.

        But, purely offensively, ZiPS projects Peraza for a .280 average and .312 OBP. It projects Herrera for a .255 average and a .311 OBP. Herrera with more pop, for sure. 18 HR to 8 HR.

        We will see how it plays out, I’d imagine. But I think you’re underselling the overall potential offensive value of Peraza by a decent amount.

      • Ghost of BP

        If Peraza is league average defensively at SS then the bar is indeed lower for him offensively, I agree.
        But our discussion started as who should be the 2B this year. I contend it should be Herrera, as Pereza would be “out of position” relative to the Reds’ long term intentions for him and I still believe Herrera has greater offensive upside and also needs the defensive reps at 2B.
        If Herrera is not the 2B, he should be in Louisville for regular reps at that position as I don’t see how he profiles as a utility guy for the Reds this season.

      • Doug Gray

        The discussion certainly started there, but then we started talking about upside. Maybe we were talking past each other, as you meant upside at second base versus just pure upside.

      • Ghost of BP

        You are right. We devolved into just pure upside, and one has to consider that Peraza might stick at SS, whereas Herrera has no other viable premium position than 2B. If Peraza sticks at SS, then there is lattitude for his bat. He actually does have more upside defensively than he does offensively, in my view. He has the possibility of being a plus defender, even at SS.
        But Herrera at 2B, this year, makes more sense to me than Peraza at 2B.

  4. Krozley

    Herrera has had two successful seasons at AAA so he doesn’t need to go back unless Price is only going to give him an occasional plate appearance. If he can start at least twice a week with some pinch hitting, I think that would benefit him as much as playing everyday in Louisville. With the inevitable injuries and the potential trade of Cozart, he will hopefully get 350-400 plate appearances by year’s end.

    • Doug Gray

      Not so much about him going back to do something other than play every day. As the roster sits now, he’s just not likely to get more than a few at-bats a week on the big league roster unless they go out of their way to force it. At some point I think they may need to force it – this is his last option year. I just don’t think April/May/June are the right times to force it.

    • Patrick

      I do not see that moving Cozart is the answer. Peraza is as a 2nd baseman as viewed by the reds (they called him the 2B of the future) I see the Reds signing Cozart or someone else for next year. as shown by the alf rod signing they want D at SS

      • Doug Gray

        I think that has changed once they got a better look at him at shortstop once he got into the organization.

        Obviously, they’d prefer it if Rodriguez learned to hit because he’s got special defense…. but that’s a big question mark.

  5. Steve

    I think that keeping the future in mind is the key. Chances are slim to none that Cozart is on the roster after this season. That makes the development of Herrera at the MLB level more important. Having Suarez, Cozart, Peraza and Herrera rotate between 2B, SS and 3B this ST makes sense to develop flexibility with the Reds. Peraza can also get some time in CF. It benefits all players as well as the Reds. Cozart trade value increases if other clubs know that he could probably play 2B and 3B as well. I like Barnhart, Alcantara, Herrera, 2 of Turner, Iribarren, Kivlehan, Renda or Dixon. Ogando or Bonilla would have to sneak through waivers.

  6. Simon Cowell

    Aren’t there still some unanswered questions in regards to his shoulder? I think that there is a reason why Dilson isn’t being considered for 2B at all.

    • Doug Gray

      I doubt there’s any concern with his shoulder. Since he ended the year on the DL, the Reds could have told him he couldn’t play in the WBC. But they are letting him, which tells me that they think he’s healthy and good to go.

      I think he’s not being considered because Peraza hit .324 last year in the big leagues and Herrera didn’t. They are more confident, right now, that Peraza’s a big leaguer from day one. Is that true or not? I don’t know, but it’s rational thinking. If Peraza had struggled some, then I think it’d be more open – but the guy hit .324. The job is his until it’s not.

  7. Earmbrister

    I’m with Doug on this. Let Peraza get starter AB in MLB at 2B. Cozart is likely to be traded by July, then Herrara can be called up. Get something for Cozart; the Reds control both Peraza and Herrara for six more years. In the meantime, Herrara should get regular ABs in AAA.

    Don’t see the benefit of some complex timeshare between Cozart, Suarez, Peraza,Herrara, and Hamilton. They all need to play “everyday”.

  8. DHud

    I don’t think either solution is necessarily wrong (Peraza or Herrera at 2B), but I would’ve gone with Herrera.

    It’s like the square block in a round hole problem. We have these two block shapes that we need to fit somewhere – Herrera a star and Peraza some mythical shape that fits into 4 different places. We just cleared the star shaped hole and we’re saying “oh, we’ll go ahead and put the versatile shape in there for now just to get it placed,” when in actuality you can put the star shape in the star hole and still find places for Peraza

    • Doug Gray

      If you’re using Peraza at five spots, though, you’re taking away time from a lot of young guys you want to keep playing every day, and Cozart. If you put him at second, you’re just biding some time for one guy in Triple-A. That’s what I keep coming back to. I’d just rather have Suarez, Duvall, Schebler/Winker, Hamilton, Peraza and Herrera all getting at bats every single day instead of having them all getting 10-15 fewer at-bats a week at the big league level to try and find room for everyone.

  9. Mjc

    There’s probably only gone be room for 1 of them peraza/Herrera next year anyway .Senzel probably takes over third, shifting Suarez back to middle infield. Creating trade bait for other areas.

    • Doug Gray

      Could just make Suarez trade bait. As I talked about in the latest video, there are so many different ways it could play out in the next 2 years for the Reds. It’s a very, very fluid situation.

      • Hingle McCringleberry

        WHY DO THAT? SUAREZ IS GONNA BE A ENCARNACION TYPE PLAYER. NO GUARANTEE THAT ANY OF THESE GUYS ARE GONNA HIT BETTER THAN SUAREZ. THE SITUATION IS TOO FLUID. TOO MANY INFIELDERS IN PLAY HERE. SUAREZ IS GONNA BE A .275/330/30HR GUY. DEFENSE IS MUCH BETTER ON THE CORNER. GET RID OF COZART. EVERYBODY BLAMED PHILLIPS FOR HOLDING THINGS UP, BUT NOBODY IS BLAMING COZART.

      • Doug Gray

        People blamed Phillips for holding things up because the team traded him multiple times and he said no. The Reds can trade Cozart if they can find someone to take him. Don’t doubt for a second that they aren’t trying to find someone. They are.

      • wes

        Suarez was given every opportunity to be that guy last year and he didn’t do it. I agree he may be a late bloomer, but where is he going to play? Since acquiring him they brought in Peraza and Herrera which tells me they don’t think he’s the answer at 2nd and the only way he is long term at 3rd is if both Senzel’s arms fall off.

        So trade bait seems to be only option with him IMO. Hopefully he comes out hot and his control-ability seems to be a good fit for small market teams. That way he is an option for any team searching for a 2nd/3rd baseman. Tampa got a nice return for their guy.

      • Doug Gray

        Suarez was 24-years-old last season. Todd Frazier wasn’t even a big leaguer at that age. I’m just saying, it’s probably a bit early to be making up your mind on exactly what Suarez is.

  10. Hingle McCringleberry

    IF THEY CAN GIVE PHILLIPS AWAY, THEY CAN GIVE COZART AWAY. HE HASN’T DONE ANYTHING HIS WHOLE CAREER. CAREER .289 OBP, CAREER .246 AVERAGE, CAREER .674 OPS. YET EVERYBODY WANTS TO TREAT HIM LIKE HE’S THE NEXT BEST THING. GET RID OF THIS BUM AS HE HAS ZERO VALUE TO THIS TEAM OTHER THAN REGULATING HIM TO BE A BENCH PLAYER. THAT’S A BETTER IDEA. HE IS NOT WORTHY OF STARTING. IF THIS IS A REBUILD, THEN LET THE YOUNG GUYS PLAY FOR CHRIST SAKES.

    • Doug Gray

      Cozart is better, or, well, in the past has been better than your angry rant suggests.

      No one on this planet, at least that I’ve seen, and I read a ton of baseball opinions from all over the internet, thinks that he’s “the next best thing”. Heck, most actually feel he stinks because he doesn’t hit much. People undervalue his defensive contributions. Personally? I’d try my hardest to move him this spring, slide Peraza over to shortstop and put Herrera at second. But, again, I think you’re seriously overreacting and pounding on the keyboard hard enough to break it for some reason.

      • Muddy Cleats

        Doug, I don’t have a dog in the hunt w/ the Reds. I’m a BRM Reds Fan from the past & a casual Reds fan from afar now, but this whole situation (and most everything the Reds do) reeks of incompetence by the organization. I doubt Mr. McBerry is banging on the keyboard or hypeventilating over the Reds other than to pt out how incompetent this Organization is. It’s sad that the Oldest Team in Baseball has fallen this far and being run into the ground seemingly at every turn. Cozart COULD have already been traded & should have been, and he should sit now because he has NO future w/ the Reds. Everyone in MLB knows what he can or can’t do. Playing him everyday only improves the chances he’ll come up lame again and still can not be traded!

      • Doug Gray

        Actually, I’d argue not playing him every day, coming off of the knee injury that took him out after he had it surgically repaired, tells people that he can’t do it. You’ve got to show people that he can. It probably does improve his chances he’ll go down again, but it also is the only way to show he’s got the kind of value that he did in the past, too.

  11. Michael B. Green

    If J.J. Hardy is having back problems, perhaps Cinci can look to deal Cozart to BAL now.

  12. Norwood Nate

    Rough estimates: 162 game season, played throughout 6 months, which equates to about 27 games a month. That’s six full games a week, with another 3 games played in the remaining days of the month.

    Here’s a proposal that gets everyone playing time;
    Wk 1: Cozart 5 starts at SS, Peraza 1. Herrera 4 starts at 2B Peraza 2, Duvall 5 starts in LF Peraza 1, Hamilton 5 starts in CF, Peraza 1. Schebler 6 starts in RF.
    WK 2: Cozart 4 starts at SS, Peraza 2, Herrera 5 starts at 2B, Peraza 1, Duvall 5 starts in LF, Peraza 1, Hamilton 6 starts in CF, Schebler 5 starts in RF, Duvall 1.
    Wk 3: Cozart 5 starts at SS, Peraza 1, Herrera 4 starts at 2B, Peraza 2, Duvall 4 starts in LF, Peraza 2, Hamilton 5 starts in CF, Peraza 1, Schebler 4 starts in RF, Duvall 2.
    Wk 4: Cozart 4 starts at SS, Peraza 2, Herrera 5 starts at 2B, Peraza 1, Duvall 5 starts in LF, Peraza 1, Hamilton 5 starts in CF, Peraza 1, Schebler 5 starts in RF, Duvall 1.

    Total starts: Cozart 18, Peraza 20, Herrera 18, Duvall, 23, Hamilton 21, Schebler 20.
    Assuming 4 PA (low for top of order) per start guys should average 72 (18 starts) to 92 (23 starts) PA a month. That’s the minimum, as some guys will see more than 4 PA a game, some will PH in games not started.

    Then there’s the 3 other games of the month. Well, Hamilton gets all three of those games in CF bumping him up to 24 games started during the month. Cozart also gets 3 more added at SS, bumping him up to 21 games started during the month. Peraza, Alcantara, and Herrera divide the three other games at 2B, and Alcantara gives Suarez a break at 3B a couple of times a month as well. Duvall gets an extra start a month relieving Votto (on one of his scheduled off days). Jennings takes the additional 3 starts in the OF a month, but since he can’t play both corners, Schebler gets 3 more starts as well.

    So the total starts would be: Cozart 21, Peraza 21, Herrera 20, Duvall 24, Hamilton 24, and Schebler 23. In this scenario everyone should get 90-100 PA per month.

    Obviously, real life doesn’t go as easily as it can look on paper. But there is certainly a viable means of getting all the young guys and Cozart regular playing time.

    • Bill

      Peraza really seemed to play his best when he took over at SS. I have to think all of the bouncing around kept him from getting into a groove. While his versatility could help the Reds maximize Cozart’s trade value and allow Herrera to start showing what he can do at the major league level, we won’t be able to fully evaluate Peraza.

      • Norwood Nate

        Peraza also didn’t play regularly last year until he took over SS. I’d be willing to bet it was consistent ABs as much as it was playing just one position that helped him get in a groove.

        Peraza had 93 PA in 20 games started (33 played) from May 14th-July 31st. He was then sent down to the minors because it had long been clear Price wasn’t going to play him regularly enough. He had a .574 OPS during that time.

        From August 20th-October 2nd Peraza played 39 games with 36 of those games being starts, resulting in 163 PA. He posted an OPS of .870 during that time.

        He had 70 more PA in a month’s less time due to playing every day. When he played every day, he began hitting. I really don’t see a correlation to where he played in the field, and certainly not a stronger one to getting regular ABs.