Cincinnati Reds: Potential non-tender candidate César Hernández could fit

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 14: Cesar Hernandez #16 of the Philadelphia Phillies runs the bases after hitting a homer in the fourth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on April 14, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 14: Cesar Hernandez #16 of the Philadelphia Phillies runs the bases after hitting a homer in the fourth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on April 14, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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While a lot of fans expect the Cincinnati Reds to move Nick Senzel back to the infield, if he remains in center field, César Hernández could be a nice fit.

Sure to be non-tendered before Monday’s deadline, César Hernández is likely to become a free agent very soon. Though many Cincinnati Reds fans expect Nick Senzel to return to the infield, Hernández could take over at second base allowing last year’s rookie to remain in center field.

Going into last season, few, if any, fans believed that second base would’ve been one of the Reds weakest positions. With Scooter Gennett all set to pick up where he left off in 2017 and 2018, Reds Country was expecting big things from the second base position. Unfortunately, Gennett injured his groin and never returned to form, eventually being traded to the San Francisco Giants.

The Reds have options at second base with the likes of Josh VanMeter and Freddy Galvis on the roster. Alex Blandino is another option, but the former first-round pick is more of a bench option than a starter. A certain section of the fanbase has advocated for Senzel to return to the infield dirt after suffering a shoulder injury last season, but the front office has not committed one way or another.

It’s very likely that César Hernández is no longer part of the Philadelphia Phillies after Monday’s deadline to non-tender players for the upcoming season. Hernández, who’s in the final year of arbitration eligibility, is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to take home $11.8M after agreeing to a contract worth $7.75M last season.

His projected contract for 2020 notwithstanding, the Phillies are also looking to clear space for Scott Kingery at second base. Even though he’s the longest tenure member of the Phillies, it appears as though Hernández’s time in Philadelphia is coming to an end.

Hernández is a productive, yet inconsistent hitter. Despite that, César Hernández led the Phillies in hits (171) last season and in 2018 (153). After two consecutive seasons with a walk-rate above 10%, last season saw Hernández’s walk-rate fall to just 6.7% according to FanGraphs. That’s at least an improvement over the 4.8% walk-rate of Galvis and the 3.8% walk-rate of José Iglesias.

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With the free agent market for centerfielders basically nonexistent, there’s no true way for the Cincinnati Reds to upgrade the position unless they make a trade. But, if the Reds front office is prepared to enter next season with Senzel in center field, César Hernández could be a nice stopgap option at second base.