The 2020 offseason has been an understandably frustrating one for Reds fans, after the team seemingly pushed all the chips to the center of the table last year (or tried to, at any rate). While they ultimately fell flat, with under-performances from Eugenio Suarez, Shogo Akiyama, Nicholas Castellanos, and Nick Senzel, there were bright moments to give fans hope of things to come.
Top prospects Jose Garcia and Tyler Stephenson both made their debuts, as did Tejay Antone who exceeded expectations, doing an impressive job as both a long reliever and a spot starter. But Garcia struggled mightily, as you might expect for someone who jumped from one season of Low-A and one season of Advanced-A straight to the majors. In 68 plate appearances he racked up a 38% strikeout rate and hit .194/.206/.194 with no home runs and 1 stolen base. Those struggles led to an expectation that the Reds would need to address the shortstop position, at least temporarily, until Garcia can make some adjustments.
So far we’ve seen the Reds appear to sit pat while Didi Gregorius, Marcus Semien, Andrelton Simmons all signed elsewhere. The remaining choices aren’t particularly great: Hanser Alberto, Eduardo Nuñez, Andrew Romine, Jordy Mercer, Jonathan Villar, and former Red Zack Cozart. The club did just sign Dee Strange-Gordon to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. But there are at least three other intriguing possibilities, if the Reds could put the right package together: Amed Rosario of the Indians, Trevor Story of the Rockies, and Willy Adames of the Rays. I thought I’d offer up some Reds prospects that the team could send out for any of those guys, without depleting their system of future talent for the big league club. I’m especially optimistic that a trade could benefit the Reds more so than a free agent signing given that a number of other clubs appear to be primarily concerned with dumping salary more so than netting a return of top level talent in exchange for their star players.
Jonathan India, INF: I’ve fallen a bit on him after seeing him struggle in the Arizona Fall League in 2019, and that after not putting up anything close to the power he was projected for the previous offseason. To be clear, he’s starting lineup material but just don’t expect gaudy home runs or stolen bases. Good average, OBP (he does know how to take his walks) and *maybe* some modest power if you squint. Then again he may also have been hurt by hitting in a largely pitcher-friendly league for most of his time in the minors. He’d contribute enough to be a value in a trade package. Losing India wouldn’t cripple the Reds; they still have Rece Hinds, Jose Garcia, Tyler Callihan, plus whomever they would be trading for.
Tony Santillan, RHP: I still like him, even after his struggles in 2019 which I attribute to dealing with a nagging injury and trying to adjust to an entirely new approach to pitching from the Reds’ new pitching coaches and development. I’ve seen enough video of him to know that he has some nasty late movement on his pitches, and doable command/control to be a capable back of the rotation starter. And who couldn’t use a starter? Like India, moving Santillan wouldn’t be a huge loss as the Reds would still have Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Lyon Richardson.
Ryan Hendrix, RHP: Hendrix possesses tantalizing strikeout stuff, at times exceeding 40%. But walks have been a major bugaboo for him. If a team can work with him on improving his command/control even just a little, the pure upside of that strikeout stuff adds value to a trade package.
Tyler Callihan, INF: Callihan’s hit tool is far more established than his defense; he possesses good ability to make quality contact and hit for power without selling out for it. The question with him has always been, where does he fit defensively? Given his slightly bulky frame, first base seems the natural destination for him eventually, and perhaps DH if the league brings that back for future seasons.
T.J. Friedl, OF: A good “throw in” piece in a trade package, Friedl offers fairly reliable hitting (has always put up above-average wRC+ across his minor league career so far) and plus speed in the outfield and on the base paths.