Cincinnati Reds: Projecting the starting lineup with Francisco Lindor

GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 23: Francisco Lindor #12 of the Cleveland Indians fields his position against the Cincinnati Reds during a Spring Training Game at Goodyear Ballpark on February 23, 2018 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 23: Francisco Lindor #12 of the Cleveland Indians fields his position against the Cincinnati Reds during a Spring Training Game at Goodyear Ballpark on February 23, 2018 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds have been rumored to be in talks with the Cleveland Indians regarding Francisco Lindor. What might the Reds batting order look like?

The Cleveland Indians were said to be taking team’s last, best, and final offers on Francisco Lindor over the weekend. If that’s true, we may have a resolution in the coming days. Fans of the Cincinnati Reds would love the early Christmas present of seeing Lindor added to the roster. What might the team’s lineup and batting order look like with the addition of Francisco Lindor?

By all accounts, if the Reds are seriously looking to add Lindor, they’re going to pay a heavy price. Among those players rumored to be of interest to the Indians are Nick Senzel, Freddy Galvis, and prospects Tony Santillan, Jonathan India, and Nick Lodolo. What the actual exchange may look like, who knows? But, these are the most prominent names perceived to be on the table.

For argument’s sake, let’s assume that Senzel, Galvis and two of the Reds top prospects are among those dealt to the Indians. Who those prospects are in terms of next year’s team are irrelevant, as Tyler Stephenson, the club’s No. 7 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is the only player within striking distance of making an appearance on the Opening Day roster in 2020.

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So, under the premise that Francisco Lindor is a member of the Cincinnati Reds next season, the team would’ve solved two big questions. Adding Lindor would fill the hole at shortstop left by the departure of José Iglesias into free agency, and he’d also become the most likely player to bat leadoff for the Reds next season.

Cincinnati struggled to find a leadoff hitter last season. The Reds saw Jesse Winker, Scott Schebler, Nick Senzel, Joey Votto, and even Curt Casali try their hand at batting leadoff last season. In 141 of his 142 starts, Lindor was hitting in the No. 1 spot in the batting order. If acquired, the leadoff spot would assuredly go to Lindor.

The No. 2 spot in the batting order would likely fall to first baseman Joey Votto. After several successful season as the team’s No. 3 hitter, Votto saw most of his at-bats coming from the No. 2 hole last season. While Votto struggled at times, the 35-year-old still put up a .357 on-base percentage. It’s highly unlikely Votto gets bumped out of that spot in the lineup.

Batting third would obviously be third baseman Eugenio Suárez. Geno was second in the majors in home runs last season behind rookie sensation Pete Alonso. Suárez has third base and the No. 3 spot in the batting order on lockdown. Barring injury, Suárez’s standing with the team is the most sure thing heading into next season.

The No. 4 spot in the batting order is a curious one, but it’s likely to fall to the newly acquired Mike Moustakas. Moustakas, a left-handed power bat, is slated to take over at second base and add some stability to a position that was a revolving door last season. Adding Francisco Lindor might lessen the addition of Moustakas in terms of excitement, but his production is vital to next year’s team.

While he’s yet to be assured of a starting spot on next year’s squad, Aristides Aquino has to be the odds-on favorite to be the Reds starting right fielder heading into 2020. While he cooled off down the stretch following an August in which he was white-hot, The Punisher will be looking to add to the legend he began to cultivate last summer. Look for Aquino to be the No. 5 hitter in the batting order.

If the Reds are successful in their pursuit of Francisco Lindor, it would appear to lessen the front office’s pursuit of an additional outfield bat, thus cementing Jesse Winker as Cincinnati’s starting left fielder. While I wouldn’t rule out the possible addition of Corey Dickerson via free agency, the safe bet is on Winker hitting in the No. 6 hole and playing left field to begin next season.

Cincinnati was after Yasmani Grandal earlier this offseason, and even rumored to be in pursuit of Robinson Chirinos. The desire to add a catcher seems to have cooled, however, and all signs point to a platoon of Tucker Barnhart and Curt Casali behind the plate for the Reds in 2020. While not overly impressive, the two backstops compliment each other well.

Now, under the assumption that Nick Senzel is traded to Cleveland, who might the Reds starting center fielder be? Well, there are whispers that in addition to Francisco Lindor, the newly acquired Delino DeShields could be shipped to Cincinnati. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, but DeShields doesn’t offer much in terms of offense.

As far as in-house candidates go, Cincinnati could select from the crop of Travis Jankowski, Phillip Ervin, or even Jose Siri. None of those options jump off the page, but for a player likely to hit in the No. 8 spot, the Reds wouldn’t need a masher to play center field. Any of those options would be serviceable.

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So, should the Cincinnati front office pull off a trade that brings Francisco Lindor to the Queen City, there’s a good chance that the Reds would have the best everyday eight in the National League Central. With 2020 being a year in which the team is looking to make a splash and return to the postseason, adding Lindor would give them a great chance to do so.