The Cincinnati Reds have a long list of possibilities to select their back-up infielder from in 2017.
The Cincinnati Reds enter 2017 with the same starting infield as 2016. With Brandon Phillips vetoing another deal out of town, Jose Peraza will reprise his role from the second half of last year as a multi-position starter. That leaves the Reds with just one spot left for a back-up infielder.
The first player that will be under consideration is second base prospect Dilson Herrera. He will have an uphill battle convincing the Reds that he is better off on the big league bench than starting everyday in Louisville. If he appears to be the best player on the roster in Arizona, he will be hard to leave behind, regardless of the logjam at second.
Josh VanMeter came over from the San Diego Padres in a trade this off-season for Rule 5 draftee, Luis Torrens. He was acquired in order to be a back-up infielder. The question is whether he is ready after only playing 29 games in Double A last season. He had trouble hitting at that level. That means he likely will start the season in the minors.
The third option is recently acquired right-handed hitter Riche Shaffer. He is viewed similarly to Adam Duvall. He is a late bloomer with a little less power and a little better skill at getting on base. Shaffer also can cover the four corner positions. He makes the chances of Arismendy Alcantara being the back-up outfielder better.
The Cincinnati Reds have flexibility thanks to Jose Peraza, but they also have to keep his development in mind.
Peraza’s flexibility means that the back-up infielder only has to be able to play third base. Peraza can shift from wherever he is to cover the middle infield. Third baseman Eugenio Suarez can also shift from third if need be.
That is not what is best for Peraza’s development. Ideally, they need someone who can cover second and center field as the back-up infielder. That allows Peraza to concentrate on short and the starts that he makes every week. That helps the chance of Alcantara and Hernan Iribarren.
Iribarren is a non-roster player that came up from Louisville last season. He showed good defense. Iribarren also was aggressive with his base running at the end of the season.
He can play second, third and center. His ability to bat left handed helps his chances if VanMeter can’s hit this spring. His non-roster status hurts him.
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That leaves Alcantara with the inside track on earning the back-up infielder’s position. A designated pinch hitter gain the other primary bench spot in this scenario. The bench shrinks with three projected catchers.