What Will the Cincinnati Reds do with Left Field in 2015?


One of the biggest challenges facing Cincinnati Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty this off-season will be what to do with the left field position. There are a bevy of routes for Jocketty to take, and for once, standing pat is not one of them.

Ever since Adam Dunn was shipped away just after the Trade Deadline back in 2008, the position that is scribbled into scorebooks as “7” has been a revolving door of misery and disaster.

Let’s look at all of the players who got into a game in left field following Dunn’s departure:

2008: Jolbert Cabrera, Wilkin Castillo, Chris Dickerson, Ryan Freel, Jerry Hairston, Norris Hopper

2009: Wladimir Balentien, Chris Dickerson, Jonny Gomes, Jerry Hairston, Darnell McDonald, Laynce Nix, Drew Sutton

2010: Willie Bloomquist, Chris Dickerson, Jim Edmonds, Jonny Gomes, Chris Heisey, Laynce Nix

2011: Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier, Jonny Gomes, Chris Heisey, Jeremy Hermida, Fred Lewis, Dave Sappelt

2012: Todd Frazier, Willie Harris, Chris Heisey, Ryan Ludwick, Xavier Paul

2013: Shin-Soo Choo, Todd Frazier, Chris Heisey, Ryan Ludwick, Donald Lutz, Xavier Paul, Derrick Robinson

2014: Roger Bernadina, Jason Bourgeois, Chris Heisey, Ryan Ludwick, Donald Lutz, Kristopher Negron, Yorman Rodriguez, Ramon Santiago, Skip Schumaker

Sans the occasional spot start from Todd Frazier and Shin-Soo Choo the past few seasons, the position has lacked a player of any real massive staying power.

Leading the way has been Ryan Ludwick, the Reds go-to left fielder for the majority of the past three seasons, but as the list shows, the Redlegs used nine different left fielders in 2014—the most since Dunn’s departure.

While it seems Ludwick would still make a useful platoon player, his contract is up. In the coming weeks, the Reds brass will decide whether or not to pick up his $9 million option on his contract (they won’t), or to pay him $4.5 million to go away (they will). Oh, the beauty of professional sports.

That leaves the club with a gaping hole in left field. To expect a platoon of Chris Heisey and Skip Schumaker will be able to do the job brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “ignorance is bliss.” While the platoon situation may wind up occurring, it’s difficult to imagine being able to explain that after one of the worst offensive seasons in club history, the lineup fails to improve a glaring weakness.

Following the 2012 season (when the club won 97 games, mind you), Jocketty was still not pleased with those results, shipping off offensively-inept centerfielder Drew Stubbs in order to acquire Shin-Soo Choo for the 2013 campaign. There is a track record of Jocketty willing to pull the trigger on “the move” that he needs in order to better the roster.

There will be a handful of major name outfielders on the market this winter, including: Torii Hunter, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Alex Rios (presumably), Nick Markakis (presumably), Michael Cuddyer, and even, Ichiro Suzuki.

The only name that sticks out as a likely possibility within the Reds price range is Michael Cuddyer. Still, that would more than likely mean moving one of the three starting pitchers (Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake) in order to have enough room to conceivably ink him to a deal.

So, where does that leave Mr. Jocketty? The man that has reeled in Scott Rolen, Mat Latos, Shin-Soo Choo and Jonathan Broxton via the trade, will have to go back to the phones and find himself a new left fielder—no matter what the price.