The Cincinnati Reds may be looking to upgrade the center field position this winter. However, it appears that Starling Marté won’t be among those available.
Nick Senzel may return to his natural position heading into 2020. Though nothing has been announced, there’s rampant speculation that last year’s rookie will move from center field to the infield next season. If that happens, the Cincinnati Reds will have a massive hole in the outfield. Unfortunately, it appears that Starling Marté will not be available.
Beat writer Adam Berry of MLB.com weighed in on Marté’s status recently. Asked if the Pittsburgh Pirates might trade Marté this offseason, Berry said his sources indicate the organization plans to keep the 30-year-old on their 2020 Opening Day roster.
Marté has two team options remaining on his contract. Next season, the Pirates will need to either pay $11.5M to keep Marté on the roster, or pay a $2M buyout and allow him to enter free agency. In his article for MLB.com, Berry refers to Marté as the Pirates best trade chip and is almost certain that the Buccos will pick up his 2020 team option.
The cupboard is pretty bare when it comes to free agent centerfielders. If Marté’s option is picked up, the best available free agent might be Billy Hamilton. We all know that won’t work in Cincinnati, so if the Reds wish to upgrade the position, it may have to come through a trade.
Berry didn’t completely rule out a trade for Marté, as he notes that Pittsburgh management hasn’t commented on much of anything since Clint Hurdle‘s dismissal. Just yesterday, Team President Frank Coonelly stepped down, so all bets are off concerning the Pirates motives this offseason. There’s always a chance, as Berry mentions, that the Winter Meetings could provide clearer focus.
For now, if the Cincinnati Reds wish to upgrade the outfield, and more specifically center field, it looks like the front office may have to get on the horn and see what other teams may be offering. Surely, the Atlanta Braves would take offers for Ender Inciarte. Battling injuries last season, the 28-year-old played just 65 games and was replaced in center field by Ronald Acuna Jr.
The Los Angeles Dodgers also have a influx of versatile outfielders, some of which may be on the trade block this offseason. Chris Taylor has over 100 games experience manning center field and may be a trade candidate this winter. Kiké Hernández is another name to keep an eye on this offseason. With Alex Verdugo and Gavin Lux now at the big league level, Hernández is expendable.
The Reds could surprise us and keep Senzel in center field. He made strides last season adjusting to a new position and definitely possesses the athleticism to play up the middle of the outfield. Regardless, it sounds as though Starling Marté is off limits, at least for now. If the Pirates do make Marté available, he won’t come cheap.