It’s been a very newsworthy 24 hours in the Cincinnati Reds Minor League world. And earlier this morning some of the bigger news was that Nick Senzel, the organizations top prospect, is going to see time at third base beginning tonight in Louisville.

It was just a week ago where Nick Senzel told the media in Louisville that as far as he knew the plan was for him to play second base every single day.  Things change, though. When Eugenio Suarez broke his thumb after being hit by a pitch, it seems that even in the Reds front office, the thinking changed.

For now, the team has recalled Alex Blandino to take the place of Eugenio Suarez on the roster. He didn’t start last night, though that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. But, with the Reds seemingly changing the plan with Nick Senzel, those starts may not be coming for Alex Blandino – at least at third base, for long. Blandino is starting there tonight for the Reds. It will be his Major League debut.

There’s not an exact timetable on how long Eugenio Suarez will be out. Similar injuries seem to have cost guys 6-8 weeks, though. Nick Senzel has been a third baseman for his entire Minor League career outside of the first week of the season this year. Everything I’ve seen says he’s ready to play there, defensively, right now in the Majors. But, he didn’t spend much time there this spring as he worked on trying to get reacquainted with shortstop. This move seems more likely just to get him a few reps in for what appears to be coming next.

If the Reds are going to bring Nick Senzel up to play third base in the absence of Eugenio Suarez, it brings up a few different questions. The first is, when will they call him up? Today certainly isn’t the answer. By keeping him down for another few days the Reds can maintain control for an entire additional season. Basically, they get seven years of control instead of six by waiting a few days. But, he could be called up for the weekend series and the team would not lose out on that extra year of control.

The next question is, when they call up Nick Senzel, who loses their spot on the 40-man roster? It’s possible that the team could place Suarez on the 60-day disabled list if they believed he’d truly miss 8 weeks. But, that would be a surprising move to me. From my seat here in Cincinnati, 17-miles from the seat of the men who actually make the decision in the offices at Great American Ballpark, the logical choice would be one of the veteran backup infielders. Both are in their 30’s. Neither are a part of the long-term future of the organization. And as I’ve said in the past, basically provide the same kind of role on the team and are redundant.

The final question may be the most important one if the team calls up Nick Senzel to take over at third in the absence of Eugenio Suarez. What is the plan for when Suarez returns? Let’s assume that Senzel performs as expected and nothing unexpected happens. That would remove the thought of sending him back to the minors. When Suarez returns, he’s coming back into the starting lineup. Senzel, too, is going to remain in the lineup. Where things get interesting is how the team uses the infielders. Scooter Gennett is coming off of a big, breakout season. He’s entrenched at second base right now. Then there’s Jose Peraza. He’s struggled to hit since the 2016 season ended. And he’s looked very over matched for a lot of the time along the way.

Right before Eugenio Suarez was injured, Bryan Price did something that plenty of Reds fans have been clamoring for: Suarez slid over to shortstop as a late-inning replacement. Is it possible that we could see a scenario where he’s at shortstop? That would mean in 6-8 weeks the Cincinnati infield looks like this: Joey Votto at first base, Scooter Gennett at second base, Nick Senzel at third base, and Eugenio Suarez at shortstop. From an offensive standpoint, that’s the best that the organization could possibly hope for. Defensively, it’s a wait-and-see, if we even get to see it.

The other options could include a possibility of Nick Senzel sliding over to shortstop. That’s where he played this spring – though I do believe that is the least likely of any of these scenarios. I continue to believe that if the organization felt he could play shortstop at the Major League level that he would have been doing so to begin this season in Louisville instead of sliding to second base. But, I’ve been wrong before. More than once, actually, so take that with a big grain of salt if you’d like. That scenario would just remove Jose Peraza from the starting infield. That, too, would be the best possible current offensive solution. It would also leave open some questions about the defense until it proved otherwise.

The final, realistic option, would be to keep Jose Peraza at shortstop, slide Nick Senzel over to second base, and place Eugenio Suarez back at third. That would remove Scooter Gennett from the everyday lineup. Perhaps the team could look to try and trade Gennett rather than just turn him into a part-time player. That, however, would require another team to be looking for a second baseman in June. That’s usually a little bit earlier than teams are trying to make acquisitions in the summer. It also means finding the right team that needs one. And who also has something that would be useful for the Reds in trade. It’s a risky plan, for sure. But if the team doesn’t believe that either Suarez or Senzel can play shortstop every day defensively, it may be the only option available that doesn’t mean sending Senzel back to Triple-A.

There’s a whole lot of different ways this could play out. And maybe the Reds aren’t going to be calling up Nick Senzel in the next week even though the signs certainly suggest that it’s likely. But, even if they don’t, eventually all of the scenarios laid out above are going to be on the table and the Cincinnati front office is going to have to make a decision on which one to take. This is going to be a fun ride. Strap in and hold onto your butts.

Cincinnati - T Shirt

20 Responses

  1. kevin z

    IMO if they can play and start Peraza at SS Senzel can give it a try as well.
    Since seem reds think Senzel cant play SS. have Suarez at SS Senzel at 3rd Scooter in RF have Blandino play 2nd base. With shifts almost every play who really plays at regular spots on the field anyway. Before Suarez got hurt seen him throw from SS part of field at least half dozen times

  2. Andy

    It seems Blandino has a short window to add his name to the mix. He should start every day until Senzel called up, and then platoon with Scooter at second and steal some SS starts from Peraza while waiting for Suarez return. We know future infield is Votto/Senzel/Suarez, and I think for this year, Scooter should play vs RHP. Once Suarez returns, I think it’s Scooter at 2B vs RHP and the better of Blandino/Peraza vs LHP. All 3 of those guys should look at this year as open tryout for the job in 2019+, with real possibility of looking at free agents if none answer the bell.

  3. Norwood Nate

    My ideal infield is some combination of Senzel and Suarez on the left side, Votto at 1B, and Gennett and Blandino in a platoon at 2B. Peraza backs up the MIF. I’m hoping that’s how this shakes out, we shall see.

  4. Stock

    Over the winter someone commented that the Reds statement of not moving Suarez to SS was a means to negotiate the best possible long term contract for Suarez. Now that it has been accomplished, I think the Reds will move Suarez back to SS, Senzel to 3B and keep Scooter at 2B.

    Doug, you seem to have overlooked the best possible scenario though. And it was your insight that got me on board with the idea.

    1B: Votto
    2B: Gennett/Blandino platoon
    3B: Senzel
    SS: Suarez

    Get rid of one of the journeymen MI and roll with these 5.

  5. kevin z

    I like Scooter but is horrible at defense at 2nd replace him with a better fielder have Winker play LF everyday. I know wrong seems but want strong up the middle defense then go from there

    1B: Votto
    2B: Blandino
    3B: Senzel
    SS: Suarez
    RF :Scooter

    • IndyRedsFan

      Scooter doesn’t have the arm to play second, how is he going to play right??

      • kevin z

        Winker arm weak and gets played there whats the difference then? I tried to figure a way keep scooter in lineup everyday while strengthen the up the middle Defense. Atm honestly have to get pitching as a strength first then figure out our offense wont win many if cant pitch anyway

  6. Mark

    I have a theory maybe they feel one of the young shortstops are going to breakthrough maybe in one year away maybe Alf Rodriguez for we have been told he is mlb ready defensively and maybe with tweaks discussed on here about his stance they expect his offense to improve enough to put him as starting ss

  7. Krozley

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Lorenzen went to the 60 day DL to make room for Senzel. I think the next 4-8 weeks that Suarez is out is the time to see how everyone fits. In the end, I would hope the infield ends up Votto, Scooter, Suarez, Senzel with Peraza and Blandino being the bench. Gosselin and Pennington’s spots on the 40 can go to two of the guys coming off the 60 day DL. The worst relief pitcher also goes away once Rookie is ready to join the 40man.

  8. L.A. Red

    Just an FYI Doug…you missed a golden opportunity to write “Things change Mox” with an attached GIF of James Vanderbeak but…lesigh you’ll get one more chance when this Front office wises up and finally moves Amir Garret back to the starting rotation.

    • The Rage

      Amir deserves a benefit concert for the way he has been treated. Big start for Bailey tonight. He and Price may be going out together if they don’t get their act together.

  9. BUBBA WOO

    I’m all in on giving Suarez 100 games at SS when he gets back. Maybe he has a little range from Peraza, but you also gain about 200 pts in OPS. This team struggles to score runs and they can’t expect that to change when they continue to put both Hamilton and Peraza in the Everyday 8.

  10. KyWilson1

    Its a bridge season at this point anyways, let Saurez give it a go at SS, if he cant handle it let Stenzel try it. If neither work out, you know you dont have a SS on the roster and an offseason/trade deadline need is established. The worst thing the Reds can do this year is play by the status quo. They need to throw the kitchen sink at this roster, figure out what they have, and prepare for a legit run in 2019.

    • icehole3

      Im on board with this, throw winning out the window and try to figure out who’s gonna do what.

    • CP

      This is like Tetris with baseball players. Got to figure out how to make all the pieces fit.

  11. CP

    I agree with the thought of giving Suarez and/or Senzel every chance this year to see if they can glove it at SS good enough. If they can be just average defensively, their offensive production will so outweigh the loss defensively. I have dreamed about this kind of lineup for a long time. It might just be the spark we need to get the offense going.

    Winker- LF
    Senzel- SS/3B
    Votto- 1B
    Suarez- SS/3B
    Schebler/Duval- RF
    Gennet/Blandino- 2B
    Banhart- C
    P
    Hamilton- CF

    That’s a lineup that will clog the bases at the top, has up to 20+ HR power through the 6 spot (excluding Winker perhaps), and has the unique dynamic of Hamilton as the second leadoff at the bottom. I really hope this is the type of lineup we can look forward to once Suarez comes back healthy.

    • RedsinWashSt

      Swap senzel and winker. If Winker gets on it will take 3 singles to get him home. Only 2 singles with senzel.

  12. Michael B. Green

    With TEX releasing Trevor Plouffe, I wonder if CIN signs him to play 3B or fill the void at AAA.

  13. kevin z

    Thinking reds doing what Phillies are doing with kingery Move him around diff spots each game keep him in lineup at least . Think should move around Senzel and Suarez and blandino not set spot each game just in the lineup most days