Cincinnati Reds: Matt Kemp should start over Jesse Winker

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - MARCH 19: Matt Kemp #27 of the Cincinnati Reds prepares for a spring training game against the Chicago White Sox at Goodyear Ballpark on March 19, 2019 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - MARCH 19: Matt Kemp #27 of the Cincinnati Reds prepares for a spring training game against the Chicago White Sox at Goodyear Ballpark on March 19, 2019 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /
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The Cincinnati Reds claim they’re going for it in 2019. If this is truly the case Matt Kemp needs to be an every day starter.

After trading for three starting pitchers and two former All-Star outfielders, the Cincinnati Reds announced to the baseball world that they’re looking to contend in 2019. This came as a surprise to many fans and pundits around the league. If this is genuinely how the Reds feel, they must make Matt Kemp an everyday starter.

Despite showing improvement in the second half of 2018, the Reds still looked like a rebuilding club. However, with many of the Reds prized prospects either in the big leagues or closing in, Nick Krall and his crew clearly feel the team can win now. Kemp is a 34-year-old All-Star who’s won two Silver Slugger Awards and two Gold Gloves.

After several down years split between the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves, Kemp returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018. Previously, as part of the Dodgers organization from 2006-2014, Kemp was often in discussion as an All-Star and MVP candidate, slashing .292/.349/.495 in his first stint with LA.

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His return to Hollywood was exactly what the slugger needed. Kemp returned to the All-Star Game after a 7-year absence after hitting .290 with 21 home runs and 85 RBI’s. Kemp’s big year helped the Dodgers reach the World Series where he homered against the Boston Red Sox off Chris Sale in Game 1 at Fenway Park.

Winning teams need a couple veterans in the lineup even when the young core is solid. Take a look at the past two World Champions. The 2017 Astros were led by a young core of José Altuve and Carlos Correa, but also had two key veterans in Josh Reddick and Brian McCann who served as leaders in clubhouse and played almost every day.

The 2018 World Champs, the Boston Red Sox, also had a young core led by Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi. However, veterans JD Martinez and Steve Pearce were essential in the teams’ success as they were able to lead their team to victory on and off the field.

As of now, the only real battle-tested veteran in the Cincinnati Reds lineup is Joey Votto. Yasiel Puig has been in the league for a while, but has never been one many would consider a leader. Thus, the Reds need that second veteran in the lineup and Kemp should be that guy.

For Cincinnati Reds fans wondering what to do with Jessee Winker, there are a few options. One would be to simply move him into the fourth outfielder role that Kemp is in now. Winker can give days off to Scott Schebler, Puig and Kemp as well as hit off the bench each day.

If the Reds feel the 25-year-old Winker needs to be playing every day however they can simply option him to Triple-A Louisville. Winker still has two minor league options remaining and can be moved down, perhaps Nick Senzel once the top prospect is healthy.

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Senzel can be a super utility player and man second base or even play in the outfield. Winker will get his chance soon enough, as Kemp will likely only be around for one year. However, as long as Kemp is part of the Cincinnati Reds organization, he should be in the every day starting lineup.