Much has been made recently about what to do with José Iglesias. The Cincinnati Reds shortstop has poor plate discipline, but plays phenomenal defense.
José Iglesias‘ future with the Cincinnati Reds has yet to be determined, but he’s doing his best to make their decision a difficult one. The Reds signed Iglesias to a one-year deal before the season and he’s certainly outperformed the the $2.5M contract. While several fans will point to Iglesias’ lack of plate discipline, is his defense alone enough to warrant a new deal?
Okay, let’s get this out of the way first, José Iglesias is not a great hitter. In fact, the career numbers that he’s putting up this season are a bit misleading. Only his slugging percentage is at the level of career-best, and with the way balls are flying out of ballparks this season, almost every player in Major League Baseball should be having a career-year in terms of power numbers.
Iglesias is an average major league hitter. His career slash line is .273/.314/.373. Over his eight-year career, Iglesias has an OPS+ of 84, just one point lower than this year’s 85. While his two-strike batting average of .259 is quite impressive, Iglesias is reckless at the plate, oftentimes swinging at several balls that are well outside the strike zone.
While we can sit back all day and debate Iglesias’ value as a hitter, there’s no denying the elite-level defense that he plays. The type of defensive wizardry we’ve seen from José Iglesias this season has not been on display in Cincinnati since Brandon Phillips was in his prime. Iglesias makes difficult plays look easy and adds style and flair to the mundane.
By the numbers, Iglesias’ nine Total Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) is the best of his career. However, Iglesias trails such names as Trevor Story (19), Javier Baez (15) and Paul DeJong (11). For comparison’s sake, Freddy Galvis, who could take over at shortstop next season should the Reds decide not to re-sign Iglesias, has a DRS of -3. Last season, José Peraza’s DRS was -2.
Essentially what that tells you is that defensively, while I don’t view either Galvis or Peraza as terrible fielders, they’re not much better than average. Iglesias plays stellar defense. But, is that enough to keep him next season?
If you’re asking me, it’s a very tough question. I definitely see Iglesias’ value on the field and, by all accounts, he’s a great guy to have in the clubhouse. I’m a big fan of defense and wouldn’t object to Iglesias being signed to a two-year deal with a team option for a third year. However, I see the merit in letting Iglesias walk.
If José Iglesias is looking for more money than what Freddy Galvis received last offseason, forget it! There’s no way that the Cincinnati Reds should sign Iglesias to any deal with an annual average value of over $5M. With Galvis already under team control next season for $5.5M and Peraza heading into arbitration, there are other options for the Reds.
I don’t think Iglesias is the long-term option for the Reds at shortstop, in fact, I’d start transitioning Jonathan India into that role next season. However, the out-fo-this-world defense that Iglesias displays is something to behold and if the Cincinnati Reds can work a mutually beneficial deal for Iglesias and the team, Nick Krall and Dick Williams should get it done.