Cincinnati Reds: The future is now for Nick Senzel

GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Nick Senzel #79 of the Cincinnati Reds poses for a portrait at the Cincinnati Reds Player Development Complex on February 20, 2018 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Nick Senzel #79 of the Cincinnati Reds poses for a portrait at the Cincinnati Reds Player Development Complex on February 20, 2018 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images) /

Following Friday’s decision by the Cincinnati Reds to non-tender Billy Hamilton, a clear path has been laid for the club’s top prospect Nick Senzel.

For the past year the conundrum facing the Cincinnati Reds front office has been creating a space on the Major League roster for Nick Senzel.  Currently, he’s the No. 6 prospect in all of baseball and the club’s most prized draft choice since Jay Bruce a decade ago.  The time has come for the Reds’ 2016 first round selection to make his Major League debut.

Since his arrival to the Reds organization the question hasn’t been if Senzel would make the jump to the Majors but when.  However, over the course of the past three summers Senzel has been receiving playing time at second and third base.  As we all know those are positions currently occupied by two All-Stars in Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suárez.

Following Suárez’s signing of a seven-year deal during Spring Training last season it became evident Senzel’s future would not be at the hot corner.  As a result, he spent the majority of his time in Triple-A Louisville last season playing second base.  What the Reds didn’t anticipate was Gennett replicating his 2017 success last year.  In his second season with the Reds, Scooter slashed .310/.357/.490 while producing a 124 OPS+.

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  • It became obvious the Cincinnati Reds would have to be creative with Nick Senzel.  Luckily, he’s athletic enough to move around the diamond.  During this fall’s instructional league Senzel began getting reps in the outfield.  Despite the limited amount of action the Reds obviously saw enough they liked to make Hamilton expendable.

    No matter how much time Senzel spends in the outfield he’ll never be able to replace Hamilton’s  Gold Glove caliber defense or world class speed.  However, what he can deliver is a dangerous bat and a dramatic improvement at the plate from the center field position.  Inserting Senzel into the lineup provides the Reds an opportunity of having a starting eight capable of producing an OPS+ of 100 or greater.

    Having Nick Senzel in the majors also allows for greater roster flexibility.  Imagine being able to give Suárez or Gennett a day off by moving Senzel into the infield.  Anyone who has watched the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs over the past several years has witnessed organizations willing to move players around the diamond to generate the best possible lineup on any given day.  This is a philosophy the Cincinnati Reds need to adopt as well.

    Maintaining Senzel’s sharpness in the infield is critical because the Reds have another important decision regarding Gennett’s future.  Gennett is in his final year of arbitration and will be eligible for free agency following the 2019 season.

    With the Reds No. 3 and baseball’s No. 17 overall prospect in centerfielder Taylor Trammell, probably only a year away, Senzel’s time as an everyday outfielder could be short lived.  The 2020 opening day lineup could feature both of these young phenoms while saving the club millions in payroll considering what it would take to sign Gennett.

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    There is no guarantee Senzel will be the cure to many of the Cincinnati Reds ills, but his potential impact is one Billy Hamilton couldn’t possibly provide.  Friday’s decision emphatically confirms the club’s intention of embracing their future and leaving the past behind.