Cincinnati Reds’ trade of Brandon Phillips opens the door for outfielder Jesse Winker to make the team

Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds have a primary back-up position open now that Jose Peraza will be playing second base everyday.

When the Cincinnati Reds traded away Brandon Phillips, they started a series of chain reactions on the 25 man roster that should allow Jesse Winker to make the team if he deserves it.  Prior to the Phillips deal, Jose Peraza was penciled in to start 3-4 times a week including twice per week in the outfield.  Now all of those at-bats are available, since Phillips didn’t block another deal to Atlanta.

Winker could immediately take all of the starting twice per week at-bats, while playing left or right with Scott Schebler switching to center field occasionally.  He could also back-up the infield with a little help from Adam Duvall.  Duvall could play third or first, allowing Suarez to cover second or short, thereby allowing Winker to have a similar number of at-bats that the Reds wanted to give Peraza.

The competition for the outfield playing could be intense.  The Reds have signed both Desmond Jennings and Ryan Raburn to minor league deals in recent weeks.  Both Jennings and Raburn are right-handed and were really signed to be pinch-hitters and true bench players.

Even if both of them make the team.  With the flexibility of Raburn and Duvall, the Reds won’t need a traditional back-up infielder.  Raburn is primarily an outfielder, but can play first, third, and second if need be.  Plus Suarez can play either middle infield position.

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The Cincinnati Reds owe Jesse Winker a chance to earn a spot on the roster after toiling away in the minors.

Winker was selected out of high school in the first round of the 2012 draft during the supplemental picks.  He has consistently been a .300 hitter with an OBP approaching .400.  Eventually, he projects as a number hitter somewhat resembling Tony Gwynn, but for now he looks best suited to bat sixth on a part-time basis.

Defensively, Winker has played left field about three times as much as right field since being drafted.  He grades out better as a right fielder.

The consensus, though, is that he doesn’t have enough arm strength.

He is seen long term as a back-up option only in right at the big league level.  In his first cup of coffee it makes sense to expose him to both.  Letting him play both corner positions keeps his options open.

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The Reds have to realign much of the roster with the late move of Phillips.  It is great for the development of Peraza and opens up opportunities for others.  It should be fun to watch how the team adjusts.