Cincinnati Reds plan to rotate four outfielders as starters

(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images) /
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After failing to move Billy Hamilton, the Cincinnati Reds are forced to rotate four big league outfielders.

The Cincinnati Reds had a good plan headed into the off-season.  Move Billy Hamilton to clear space for prospect Jesse Winker.  It looked like Hamilton was going to the San Francisco Giants, but it never happened.

Now the Reds have to figure out how to play four outfielders on a daily basis.  On some clubs you might see Adam Duvall plays some first or third, but in this case it isn’t worth it.  Both third baseman Eugenio Suarez and first baseman Joey Votto play pretty much everyday.

That means four outfielders playing three positions.  The good news is that each one has his own specialty.  That bad news is that the worst offensively in Hamilton is also the only true center fielder.

Duvall is a true slugger and a two-time Gold Glove finalist.  Scott Schebler is the other one that can play center and has a smooth doubles swing.  Winker is an OBP machine, but the weakest defensively.

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If the Reds trade Hamilton before the start of the season, they could let Schebler play center field.  Then they could keep a defensive back-up on the bench.  That would maximize the offensive output for the Reds.

The Cincinnati Reds already know what this might look like to start 2018.

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The Reds start the season against the Washington Nationals.  Assuming that they make it through spring training healthy, their first two starters will be Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.  They are followed up with Gio Gonzalez.

That means that Duvall will likely sit one of the first two games.  Having Hamilton sit out one of these games makes sense as well.  The Reds want their left-handed duo getting at-bats against the elite right-handers of the Nationals.

On Sunday left-hander Gonzalez is scheduled to start.

That is the best day for Winker to be off,  creating the best defensive outfield in the National League.  He should not face a left-handed starter all season long.  That leaves game four against the Chicago Cubs’ starter for Schebler to sit.

Then it starts all over again.  The Reds have 40-4 game stretches this season.  Every four games each outfielder gets a day off on the bench.

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This is the side effect of not moving Hamilton.  The Reds knew this was coming down the path.  Their lack of proper planning created what is either a mess or an opportunity for 2018.