The Cincinnati Reds beat writers with the Cincinnati Enquirer recently sat down with Dick Williams. The Reds General Manager and President of Baseball Operations took the time to answer many questions from Zach Buchanan and C. Trent Rosecrans. There’s a lot of really good information in the interview, so be sure to read it after you finish up here.

The one question and answer that stood out to me involved Nick Senzel, the organizations top prospects. A previous question led to an answer about Williams stating he preferred to keep Eugenio Suarez at third base. That led to this question and answer:

Cincinnati Enquirer: Do you envision, at least in spring, everyone seems to think it’s a foregone conclusion that Nick Senzel will play in the majors at some point next year, which probably isn’t crazy, considering how fast he’s moving… Do you envision giving NIck Senzel time at second base because it sounds like you’d be hesitant to mess with what is a really good thing at third with Suarez.

Dick Williams: I think it’s fair to say that with Nick, we need to keep our options open with him because we will eventually want that bat in the lineup, so we need to find out what our options are with him. I think it’s most likely second or third, he also can play short, but I wouldn’t characterize it as a primary position for him. I’m sure he could play the corners, if needed, if we wanted to go there, as well. But, we don’t want to bounce him around too much. I’m a believer that players of that caliber they play one spot, they’re going to continue to develop, they’re going to get comfortable, they’re going to hit — Nick doesn’t need like three months of games in left field to be able to go out there, I think, and go out there and play.

Second base. Third base. Left field. Right field. Maybe shortstop in a pinch. Perhaps the team has a plan that they just aren’t ready to go public with yet. That would be understandable if the options were to try and move a current starter in a trade over the offseason that would open up a spot for Nick Senzel. You aren’t going to publicly state that plan and put the team in a bad situation with a player and at a disadvantage in trying to move that player as the other team knows now that you NEED to move that player.

With all of that said, I agree with Williams. Nick Senzel is athletic enough that if you do decide to move him to a position that he hasn’t really played before, it isn’t likely to be a long transition. In college, Senzel played second base before moving over to third. In his junior season he even saw some limited action at shortstop. Much like Suarez, shortstop doesn’t sound like it’s going to be an actual option except in a pinch until the team can get another shortstop on the roster from the minor leagues. But, it does seem that perhaps second base or even a corner outfield spot could be an option if the team is going to get both Suarez and Senzel into the same lineup.

The breakout of Eugenio Suarez in 2017 changed things a bit for the Reds. His steps forward both offensively and defensively put him at a different level of third baseman. Fangraphs WAR ranked him as the 6th best third baseman in baseball. At his age, players tend to continue getting better for another few seasons. Despite all of that, I’m still of the belief that if one of the two players should be moved to another spot, it should be Suarez. And that spot should be second base. The position has a lot of other internal options. Scooter Gennett, Alex Blandino and Shed Long are all either there now, or on the verge of being there in the next year or two. None of them, however, seem to have quite the upside of Suarez as a 25+ homer, good defending second baseman that he brings to the table.

45 Responses

  1. Tampa Red

    Suarez is pretty close to being a GG 3rd baseman, in a league that didn’t have Arrenado that is. I see no reason to move him, at all. Curious as to your reasoning??

  2. wes

    Suarez is Reds best and most expendable trade candidate imo. He falls into the Greene, Senzel, Castillo category to me. So if Reds are going to add a top of line starter or all star ss/cf it’s going to start with one of these four more than likely- my choice is Suarez.

    Reds have a boatload of 2nd base talent and all they need for future 3rd baseman. Suarez is most proven out of those 4, even more so than Castillo, and is somewhat cheap and controllable over the near future that will make him an attractive trade target. Hate to loose him but hope reds shop him hard!

    • Wes

      Very soon. That article said no plans to move him to short so sell high and address a need

    • CP

      I agree that Suarez could bring back a load of talent, but I think that is because he is such a load of a talent! Eventually in a rebuild, you have to identify men to keep, and men to move. I think Suarez is one to keep. He does it all, for a low cost, is fun to watch, and is still young and improving! Player finds/developments like that is what makes a franchise successful.

      I would much rather move the areas of depth, like our 2B talent. Trade Scooter at a high value (probably will never be higher than it is now), or trade one of our extra corner OF’s (preferably Duvall for me), even trade some of our extra pitcher’s (one or two of Garrett, Reed, Romano, Davis, Mahle, Stephenson, Stephens, ect.).

      Just my opinion…

  3. Norwood Nate

    Suarez has finally settled into a position and he’s been real good there. I don’t mess with that at all. Senzel has more recent experience at 2B and should have no problems moving back. Suarez has played all of 1 game at 2B since 2012 according to bbref.

    • DaveCT

      I’m in the “leave well enough” alone group. My reasoning also includes the consideration of Suarez having bulked up and added weight. Since he’s done that work, that’s not something that can be dealt with in spring training. If he’s moving, now is the time to drop weight and (re) add agility. Whereas, Senzel can begin agility work now without the issue of dropping 20 lbs of muscle. Also, if Suarez does shed weight for 2B, how does that impact his offense? I’m not sure it does in a good way. Another strength of this assignment of positions is the fallback of moving Senzel to 3B if/when Suarez moves on, or regresses.

  4. Andy

    I think the Reds need a better SS option than Peraza. If Cozart is the answer, I’m happy. If not, I am firmly in the Suarez to SS camp. Looking at Fangraphs: Cozart 5War, Suarez 4.1, Scooter 2.4, Peraza -0.2. NEGATIVE WAR. It will be impossible for the Reds to improve while dropping 5.2 WAR from SS position. I’ve heard the argument that you don’t want to get weaker at 2 positions; but I think a SuarezSS/Senzel3B pair is very likely to amass higher WAR combo than PerazaSS/Suarez3B. I don’t think either combo gets to 9 like Cozart/Suarez, so if a Cozart deal is possible, bring it on. Without Cozart, the anticipated dropoff could be evened out with more at-bats from Scooter/Winker, fewer from Hamilton/Peraza, and then anticipated pitching gains push them toward contention. If Peraza becomes THE starting everyday SS, and they still plan to give 1000+ PA to the Hamilton/Peraza combo, I have no hope for real improvement next year.

    Absent a Cozart signing, I’d make Suarez my starting SS on first day of camp, Senzel is my starting 3B as soon as the extra year of service time is achieved (year of control being more important than super 2, I wouldn’t wait for that.) Scooter keeps 3B warm for Senzel, Peraza/Herrera battle through spring training and first 2 weeks to see if either hits enough to warrant taking PA appearances vs LHP from Scooter.

    Peraza did nothing in 2017 to warrant promotion to starting SS. Senzel did everything possible to warrant a starting spot ASAP. Easy choice for me.

  5. sultanofswaff

    Taking Senzel out of the conversation, second base is where the Reds are well stocked, with multiple quality options. For that reason, it would be easy to envision Nick moving to LF and trading Duvall…..Schebler is your 4th OF playing all 3 positions. In doing so, you subtract nearly 100 strikeouts from your lineup and further reshape it in the mold of Joey Votto.

    Great interview with DW. He echoed most the same points he made on the radio. I endorse his dialogue with Cozart….there’s gotta be a middle ground there. Not happy with his belief that Hamilton has more in the tank. 4 years of data says he doesn’t. I’d love to see a trade. The offseason will be a miserable failure if you have Peraza and Hamilton in the lineup next year. 2b/cf Cesar Hernandez from the Phillies has one year left–I’d look hard at him.

    I’d also float Iglesias plus a prospect for a top tier starting pitcher.

    • Simon Cowell

      So you would get rid of 2 30 homer guys at the same time? I would be ok with Trading one of Duvall,Schebler but if you are going down that road to make room for Winker as well then I think a more fundamental approach would be to just reboot the entire outfield at once. LF Senzel CF Ervin RF Winker Versus LF Duvall CF Hamilton RF Schebler

      • Pat

        Agree with Simon here. I’d trade Senzel’s OBP with Duvall’s. Too much made of HRs – and if the ball’s not juiced next year the Reds are gonna hurt. Winker and Senzel would make great corners for years to come. There’s time and bodies to choose from in the infield.

    • CP

      I know Senzel has some speed, but isn’t considered a top notch speed guy. It also seems like he is pretty athletic and could adjust quickly. So that leads me to wondering if Senzel could make a passable CF?

      If so, slot Senzel in CF. His offense would way outweigh anything Hamilton can bring offensively. It allows the 2B depth to play itself out without Senzel making it all unutilized. If Senzel could play CF, we have all of the sudden everything but SS set.

      SS- Pereza/Acquisition
      3B- Suarez
      2B- Scooter/Herrera
      1B- Votto
      C- Barnhart/Mez
      LF- Duval/Winker
      CF- Senzel/Hamilton
      RF- Schebler/Winker

      All the extra depth/pieces could now be used to acquire SS and pitching that is needed….

      Thoughts?!

  6. Bubba Woo

    When you have a prospect the caliber of Senzel, you put him where the organization feels optimizes his productivity, not just plug an opening in the lineup. The Reds clearly feel he is a 3B. They haven’t even made an attempt to play him elsewhere. The hope should be that you can write Senzel into the lineup at one position for the next 10 years, not just “put him at 2b until Shed Long is ready.”

    • Norwood Nate

      It’s possible that the Reds haven’t moved Senzel off 3B yet because Suarez wasn’t that great there last year. He improved as the year went along but I don’t know if anyone could have predicted GG caliber defense. It’s also possible that the Reds didn’t want to mess with a position change in Senzel’s first (and only so far) full season in the Reds system. I don’t think anyone’s saying hold the position for Shed Long, unless I missed that. If anything, I’m of the mind to capitalize on Long’s value in a trade.

      It’s more along the lines of getting Suarez and Senzel’s bats into the line up together that won’t hurt the defense any. We know Senzel can play 2B or 3B based on his college career. We know Suarez has become an elite level defender at 3B. We don’t know if Suarez can play 2B at all since he hasn’t played there since Senzel was in high school. Why mess with a good thing when you don’t have to?

    • Doug Gray

      If they put Senzel at 2B, he’s staying there until someone better takes the job or he needs to move to another position because he can’t handle the spot anymore.

  7. MK

    For all the improvement Suarez has made defensively, Senzel is that good now and should improve past that. Maybe they take a Chris Bryant approach to him defensively as he has played all over the place. Bottom line much of this will depend on the future of Zack Cozart with the Reds.

    • Norwood Nate

      Is he that good now? I’ll admit I haven’t seen Senzel play much live, but a quick look at the numbers last year suggest he may not be at this point.
      Suarez: 1302 Innings, .976 Fld%, 9 errors
      Senzel: 1005.2 innings, .957 Fld%, 14 errors

  8. Andrew

    What could Suarez draw in a trade, realistically? A team like the Red Sox are dying for 3B. I love him and would be happy to have him at any infield position but feel he is best suited at 3B which could slide Senzel to 2nd. Coupled with Votto, i honestly wouldn’t care at all who played SS because long as they could field that infield could be one of the 3 best in the game.

    • Andrew

      Just thinking about the end of 2018….

      Winker
      Senzel
      Votto
      Duvall
      Suarez
      Cozart
      Barnhart
      Hamilton

      Schebler, Ervin, Pereza, Blandino, Mesoraco

      Seems like a pretty legit lineup. All it takes is Cozart for 4 years and $50mm. Not saying I would do it but I wouldn’t throw my arms up in disgust if they did. 3 and $40 is even better

      I mean, if we couldn’t trade the guy for two years how much market is there out there for Cozart anyways? Or was it utter mismanagement by the Reds?

      • MK

        Everybody is worried about Votto’s bad contract when he is 40, I would have more concerns if it is Cozart at 35.

    • Norwood Nate

      The Red Sox have their own version of Senzel (at least rankings wise) in Devers who got his first taste of the big leagues this year.

  9. Stock

    If Senzel is athletic enough for 2B why isn’t he athletic enough for CF?

    Resign Cozart.

    Cozart
    Suarez
    Votto
    Duvall
    Gennett
    Schebler
    Senzel
    Barnhart/Meso

    • CP

      Ha! I just said this same thing. Senzel can’t be any worse in CF than Choo was a few years ago, and that was one of our best offensive teams we have ever had. Every player in your lineup would have 15hr potential or more (Mez the one for C if healthy).

      Plus, there would be a greater OBP presence in this lineup with Winker getting work in. The only question is how much would we be hurt defensively….

  10. DaveCT

    On the subject of the Red Sox, Beantown chatter has them looking for an elite power bat for LF, moving Benitendi to CF and trading Bradley, Jr.

    Also, there is talk as to whether to move Bogaerts or not given his down year after his 2016 breakout. Maybe we think too small?

    • Wes

      So Bradley and bogaerts for Duvall and Bob Steve? Then Boston signs cozart.

      I like Stephenson if I’m an al east team. His top end stuff is easier to take risk on in such a hard hitting league

      Prob worth both teams kicking can further down the road…

      • Doug Gray

        I’m not sure that package would get you either player on their own, much less both.

      • DaveCT

        Think it takes much more than that for Bogaerts alone. The Sox are looking at a hitter such as JD Martinez for LF. Duval is 2nd tier. With Senzel and Greene off limits, and Bogaerts an elite SS, I’d guess any deal starts with Trammell, Castillo, and then someone like Duval or Schebler. Can’t imagine adding Bradley without more value, although I wonder if they’d take Mesoraco as a backup C and DH, then simply sign Cozart (who’d do well at Fenway.

      • Wes

        Tons of risk w Stanton. Be nice to see that risk end up in St. Louis.

        I’m passing on anything that revolves around trammell/Castillo for those guys. Peraza is still just 23 and bogaerts is older and has regressed at plate. Bradley jr will be 28 and coming off a down year w only 1 good year to his name.

        Less risk sticking to rebuild

  11. Billy

    Doug, in the Williams interview, he mentioned interest in some guys in Japan beyond Otani, specifically mentioning American players who may be looking to return stateside. Any ideas who they may be eyeing there?

    • Doug Gray

      Not even the slightest clue. Maybe I’ll look into who is due to be a free agent and see.

    • Arnold Ziffle

      Yes, another Japanese starter is Hideaki Wakui (age 32). The American in the Japanese League is Miles Mikolas (age 29). He has been with the Padres and Rangers. Mikolas last pitched in the Majors in 2014. He has spent the 2015, 2016, and 2017 seasons in Japan. He might be a good get for the Reds if they can sign him. He had good minor league numbers before going to Japan.
      There was also a Japanese closer that is ready to come to the US, but I cannot remember his name.

  12. Xray05

    Suarez is close to making himself an All-Star level player on offense and defense.Senzel could be here by the end of 2018.Sign Cozart if the money is right.Trade Scooter if the deal is there(And deal Duvall or Schebler.I’m a fan,but trade one.I’d keep Duvall,but that’s just a fan talking).We are in a very good position.We could have the best infield in baseball in just a couple of years.I’m not exactly sure where you play all of them.But Votto,Senzel,Suarez,and Cozart would be a helluva infield.

  13. Cinvenfan

    I’ve said it a couple of times: play Senzel in Rf, Winker in RF, trade Duvall and Schebler (and BHAM) to get a CF and a SS. Of course, extend Suárez.

    • Mike

      But wouldn’t that leave you with two Right fielders? I mean a bit unconventional, but it could work if you don’t trade Hamilton. Just have him cover Left and Centerfield by himself.
      :)

  14. kindell

    I think they should have Suarez and Senzel play SS and 3B. I don’t really mind who plays which, I think its up to the Reds to figure out which one can handle 2nd base better. Either way, you end with a tremendous bat at 2nd Base and 3rd Base.

  15. Shawn

    Resign Cozart if the price is right, Senzel plays 2nd base. Winker in LF, trade Duval, Hamilton and Scooter and some of our minor league pitchers and a minor league SS for a CFer and a couple relief pitchers

    • DX

      Exactly. And Yelich could be that guy. If you don’t sign Cozart, you could go after a young, controllable SS

      • William Kubas

        DX
        October 17, 2017

        “If you don’t sign Cozart, you could go after a young, controllable SS”

        Who is the “young, controllable SS”?

        Kettle Marte – 243 chances – 9 errors
        Ahmed Rosario – 179 chances – 22 errors
        Johan Camargo – 81 chances – 1 error
        Richard Urena – 78 chances – 2 errors
        Daniel Robertson – 77 chances – 3 errors

  16. Mark

    I just think you hold onto Suarez and keep him at 3b. What happened last time we traded a pretty good 3b E E and look how he took off offensively do we want to make that mistake again? I’m not trading Stevenson either. I agree if we do not retain cozart we need a definite upgrade over peraza I think he just is not good at all. Maybe scooter can work on defense this offseason and maybe he continues hot for a few years until maybe long is ready. Ss and cf are the biggest needs at this moment imo.