Cincinnati Reds: Nick Senzel should focus on second base

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) /
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Nick Senzel has been working on playing center field for the Cincinnati Reds all offseason. However, it’s time to focus on second base instead.

Since Nick Senzel was drafted with the second overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, the Cincinnati Reds have moved him from position to position. This wasn’t done because Senzel is a poor defender. He is actually an excellent defender, but his hitting prowess is what excites the Reds and their fans.

The Reds want his bat in the lineup at the big league level and they want him playing every day. In order to accomplish this, the organization has had Senzel play positions that aren’t already blocked at the big league level.

The position experimentation started not long after Senzel was drafted. The University of Tennessee product was originally drafted as a third baseman and mainly stayed there in the minors until after the 2017 season.

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After Zack Cozart left via free agency during that offseason, the Reds tried Senzel out at shortstop in Spring Training 2018. With Eugenio Suárez firmly entrenched at third base, there Cincinnati Reds even had Senzel play second base in Triple-A last season.

After Billy Hamilton was non-tendered this offseason, the center field position became vacant. To fill this vacancy, the Reds started playing Senzel in center during Spring Training. He did well but ultimately he was reassigned to minor league camp before Opening Day.

It is assumed that Senzel will continue playing center field in Triple-A Louisville. Of course, he first needs to recover from his ankle injury he suffered in late Spring Training. However, I think the Reds should instead have Nick Senzel focus solely on playing second base.

It’s not that the Cincinnati Reds are wrong in moving their top prospect to positions that aren’t currently blocked at the major league level. In fact, I tend to agree with this logic, but second base makes more sense than center field because of both the short-term and long-term outlook of the Reds’ roster.

Senzel should focus on second base largely because of injuries and the way the roster is currently constructed. Since Scooter Gennett is injured and out for 8-12 weeks, the Reds have an opportunity for Senzel to play every day at second.

The team could then shift José Peraza back to shortstop and shift José Iglesias back to a bench role. This would strengthen the every day lineup and improve the Reds’ bench. This isn’t a knock on Iglesias, but he has always been more of defensive player than a hitter.

The outfield is already crowded enough with Matt Kemp, Jesse Winker, Scott Schebler, and Yasiel Puig.  Add in worthy candidate who could’ve made the Opening Day roster like Phillip Ervin and the Reds already have enough outfielders for this season ad not enough playing time to go around.

Second base is largely unsettled for the 2020 season and beyond. Scooter Gennett is a free agent after this season. The Reds could sign Gennett to an extension, however, at this point that seems unlikely. John Fay of Cincinnati Enquirer reported in February that Scooter Gennett and the Reds aren’t anywhere close to an extension.

The Reds’ outfield isn’t just crowded this season, but looks like there’s a lot of incoming talent soon to join the major league ranks as well. Winker, Schebler, and Ervin are under team control for many years to come. Plus, Taylor Trammell and Jose Siri are poised to become starters in the big leagues within the next two years.

Nick Senzel is talented enough to be in the big leagues right now. A combination of injuries and other issues have kept Senzel from already making his MLB debut and becoming a major contributor for the Cincinnati Reds.

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Playing second base will give Senzel the best chance to stick in the majors now and for the future. Plus, this decision will give the organization stability at another position which is important to building the type of championship team that every Reds’ fan wants to see.