Without Zack Cozart on the roster, Jose Peraza has all of the shortstop responsibilities.
Last year, the Cincinnati Reds let Jose Peraza and Zach Vincej cover shortstop when Zack Cozart was injured. It was a stark difference. Cozart provided plus defense and was good enough offensively to make the All-Star Game.
Now, Vincej is in the Seattle Mariners’ organization. Cozart is with the Los Angeles Angels to play third base. That leaves Peraza as the only player on the forty man roster with MLB experience at short, besides third baseman Eugenio Suarez.
Peraza had trouble in 2017 both offensively and defensively. Part of that may be attributed to his change in positions mid-season. He started the season at second base, but transitioned to a bench position when Scooter Gennett took off.
He trained to play second base during the off-season. In season, Peraza played short, second and center field. This is how he flourished in 2016, but 2017 didn’t result in the same outcome.
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Peraza likely lost some self-confidence when Gennett took Peraza’s starting position. That doesn’t change, however, the fact that Peraza appears to be an elite bench player. In 2018 the Reds are going to give him a chance to start at shortstop every day, after his off-season work in Venezuela.
The Cincinnati Reds need to pick from several options to back-up Jose Peraza
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The first option is to have back-up infielder shortstop Alex Blandino break camp with the big league club. He is already on the forty man roster. He played short in the minors, but suffered offensively until he switched off of shortstop full-time.
The second option is to sign a defensive minded free agent. It would have been nice to sign Cozart to a one year deal, but with that gone there are still plenty of options The Reds haven’t been linked to anyone particular in that area.
The Reds could also sign minor depth.
Hopefully, some of the shortstop free agents will remained unsigned. This would be a player like Brendan Ryan with some MLB experience.
The Reds could also trade for a prospect or veteran to challenge Peraza. That would signal a shift of the projection for Peraza. He may be an elite bench player long term and not a starter in the Reds eyes.
Whatever they think of Peraza, the Reds need a back-up for Peraza. If nothing else, they need to have an injury plan. The Reds cannot continue to shrug their shoulders when planning for back-ups.