Cincinnati Reds: Where must the team upgrade at the trade deadline?

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 21: A detailed view of the batting helmets of Phillip Ervin #27 and Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds in the dugout. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 21: A detailed view of the batting helmets of Phillip Ervin #27 and Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds in the dugout. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /
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Which position do the Reds need to upgrade at the trade deadline?

Kudos to @mrt9038 for this question. Following a post on Sunday that entertained the idea of the Cincinnati Reds pursuit of Trevor Rosenthal, the question was posed…”Curious, what position would you go after as a bat?” That’s a very good question and one we’ll tackle right now.

Every Reds fan has to feel good about the team’s starting rotation. Trevor Bauer and Sonny Gray have been outstanding to begin the 2020 campaign. Cincinnati’s starting rotation ranks second, only to the Los Angeles Dodgers, in ERA (3.40). The Reds starters have also only allowed opponents to hit .213, good enough for second behind the league-leading St. Louis Cardinals (.194).

So, while the bullpen may be an area that the front office looks to upgrade during the upcoming week, Cincinnati’s atrocious batting average of .207 ranks dead last in the National League. The Reds are 10th in OPS, 11th in runs scored and 12th in on-base percentage. So, the question is, which position could the Reds upgrade at the trade deadline?

This is not an easy question to answer. As bad as the Cincinnati hitting has been, there’s not one position that sticks out as the team’s Achilles heel. Sure, you could upgrade the catcher’s spot, but that should be done internally by way of promoting Tyler Stephenson.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way, shall we? Joey Votto is going nowhere. He’s not getting benched or replaced, so get that idea out of your head. Yes, the six-time All-Star is only hitting .207 with a .337 on-base percentage, but he’s still owed a boatload of money and no team is going to be willing to trade for an aging star.

So, what about second base? You just signed Mike Moustakas to a four-year/$64M contract during the offseason. While Moose hasn’t been hitting the cover off the ball, he’s been in and out of the lineup so much due to concerns over COVID-19 and a trip to the injured list that it’s unrealistic to expect the 31-year-old to have established any kind of rhythm.

Eugenio Suárez has not started out as many fans had hoped. Last year, Geno sent 49 bombs in to the seats, but the Reds third baseman has mustered just four big flies in 87 at-bats and a paltry .149 batting average. One has to believe that Suárez will get going eventually and over the past seven games, Geno’s showing signs of life, hitting .231/.310/.462 with six hits and two homers.

Is shortstop an area of concern? Defensively, yes. Freddy Galvis can make some dazzling plays defensively, but the switch-hitting shortstop can also make some bad throws and boneheaded decisions. But, Galvis has a .751 OPS and five home runs. Not too shabby for the No. 8 hitter in the Reds lineup.

When you look at the outfield, the Cincinnati Reds spent big money on Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama. While Akiyama hasn’t seen the field as much as expected and hasn’t produced at the level we had hoped, the team is not going to give up on their prized free agent signing after 20-some games.

The designated hitter has been one of, if not the most explosive positions offensively for the Reds this season. Whether it’s Jesse Winker (1.077 OPS) or Matt Davidson (.936 OPS), there’s little concern about who’s taking hacks as the team’s DH.

So, the only logical position remaining is left field. While we’ve seen Winker and Akiyama hold down that position defensively, it’s about the only position one can argue to upgrade via trade as the August 31st deadline approaches. In theory, Akiyama and Nick Senzel could platoon in center field once last year’s rookie returns to the field.

Who could the Cincinnati Reds target in a trade? Brandon Marsh of the Los Angeles Angels is a name to consider. The former second-round pick is LA’s No. 2 overall prospect and under team control through 2026. Would Joc Pederson be someone to consider. He’s not putting up great numbers this season, but we know Pederson’s got ridiculous power from the left side.

Next. Reds vs Brewers preview

There just doesn’t seem to be many areas where the Reds can upgrade offensively. This team may have to be content with the bats in their lineup and hope that, eventually, these players do what everyone knows they can do – hit!