Cincinnati Reds need to find the next Scott Rolen before it’s too late to change

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Reds need to add a veteran player to fill the role that Scott Rolen had during the last rebuild.

In 2009 when the Cincinnati Reds were coming out of their last rebuild they sent Edwin Encarnacion to the Toronto Blue Jays for the aging Scott Rolen.  Many insiders credit that move with getting the young Reds over the top.  The Reds need a move like that again.

Many fans still credit this move with why the Reds are rebuilding now.  The argument is that Encarnacion went on to be one of the best sluggers in baseball for Toronto.  He was a first baseman/DH for Toronto, so his defensive skill at third was never tested as he aged.

Rolen’s best year in Cincinnati was his first full year in the Queen City.  He won his last Gold Glove of his career and made the All-Star Game for the sixth time.  It also marked the first time that the Reds won the a division title in 15 years.

The following year, Rolen once again made the All-Star Game.  This is also the year that Todd Frazier made his big league debut.  In 2012 the two switched roles as Frazier became the starter and Rolen became the back-up during his last MLB season.

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Rolen is a likely Hall of Famer.  He is only the third MLB third baseman to have 2,000 hits, 500 doubles 300 home runs, and 1,200 RBIs following Chipper Jones and George Brett.  With his 8 Gold Glove establishing his defensive prowess, those offensive numbers should be his ticket to Cooperstown.

With the Cincinnati Reds at the same stage of their rebuild, who could the team add to do the same thing?

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The first thing to acknowledge is that to afford the salary of this type of player the Reds needed Brandon Phillips to move on to another team.  His situation has been discussed ad nauseum, but it was a factor.  Without moving him the best the Reds could have hoped for is Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins.

The three names that may fit the best are Ryan Braun, Dustin Pedroia, and Hanley Ramirez.  Braun and Ramirez would be corner outfielders, while Pedroia would play second.  In that regard, Pedroia likely makes the most sense.

Pedroia could mentor Dilson Herrera in much the same way Rolen did for Frazier.  He also wouldn’t displace a current starting prospect.  His addition to the line-up would lend the Reds more grit and intensity.

Braun and Ramirez may not be the perfect fits.  Both are highly respected by teammates, but both have had public relations issues regarding their willingness to be flexible.  Braun has also been suspended for alleged steroid use.

The Reds are most likely to trade away Eugenio Suarez.  He has some of the same traits as Encarnacion.  He is a flourishing slugger, whose defensive prowess is in question.

Next: The Reds need healthy pitchers

Maybe Joey Votto can carry the Reds by himself.  If that isn’t the case, the Reds need to move now.  Otherwise, they will be looking for a new first baseman in the middle of competing for the National League Central.