José Iglesias was at the Cincinnati Reds’ best offseason pickup. If the Reds plan to keep him beyond this season, they need to negotiate a contract extension before the trade deadline.
A lot of fans would have you believe that Derek Dietrich was the Cincinnati Reds‘ best offseason signing. While Dietrich has certainly exceeded expectations and put together a great start to the 2019 season, shortstop José Iglesias is the unquestioned best pickup the Reds made and the team needs to extend him before the trade deadline.
Iglesias came to the Reds on a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. He signed a day before the first spring game. The deal was worth $2.5 million with an additional $1 million in incentives. Keep in mind, Iglesias was supposed to be the backup to starter José Peraza, who actually led the league in singles last season and seemed poised for a breakout in 2019.
A groin injury suffered by second baseman Scooter Gennett just before camp broke had the Reds scrambling to figure out what do with their middle infield. David Bell settled on moving Peraza to second base and inserting José Iglesias into the starting lineup as the team’s shortstop.
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While I’m sure even Bell didn’t expect the production we’ve seen from Iglesias, it’s been the best decision he’s made since becoming the team’s manager. Iglesias has been the Reds best clutch-hitter and his defense is the best Reds’ fans have seen up the middle since Brandon Phillips was in his prime.
Currently, with a batting average of .297, he’s leading the club in hitting. His 11 doubles are second on the team only to Eugenio Suárez (13) and his two triples have him tied with Nick Senzel for the most on the team.
Perhaps bigger than his hitting, the increased power this season, and even his elite-level defense is Iglesias’ ability to perform in clutch situations. With 2 outs and runners in scoring position, Iglesias is hitting .333 with 7 RBIs in 21 at-bats.
When the game is tied, you want José Iglesias at the plate. In tie ball games, Iglesias is slashing .352/.417/.500 with 3 doubles, a triple, a home run, and 9 RBIs. His OPS+ is sitting at 150 when the game is knotted and Iglesias is at the dish.
Iglesias has exceeded all expectations from the fans and it’s becoming obvious that the Reds will have a big decision in regards to his future in the coming weeks. Iglesias is a free agent at the end of this season and he couldn’t have picked a better time to play the best baseball of his career.
Do the Reds reach out before the trade deadline and try to lock up Iglesias for a couple years? Should the front office find a team in need of help at shortstop for a playoff run? A lot of the top contending teams are set at the position, though the Los Angeles Dodgers just lost Corey Seager for the foreseeable future.
With Didi Gregorius as the only big name free agent shortstop hitting the open market next season, the Cincinnati Reds have a lot to think about in terms of the future at the shortstop position. Having traded away Jeter Downs this past offseason, Cincinnati does not have any young talent in their farm system who is ready to ascend to the major league level anytime soon.
Alex Blandino seems to fit the bill of a utility infielder rather than a regular starter at shortstop. The Cincinnati Reds’ best prospect, José Israel Garcia, is still two-plus years away from making his major league debut.
I still believe José Peraza has all the intangibles to be the team’s long-term starter at that position, but he’ll never possess the elite-level defense that Iglesias does. I think a contract extension is in the cards for José Iglesias, but the Reds better act fast. With the trade deadline approaching, not locking him up before then essentially necessitates a trade.