How can the Reds upgrade first base with Joey Votto under contract?

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 21: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on during a game. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 21: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on during a game. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Reds first baseman Joey Votto’s defense was abysmal this season.

It’s hard to make judgments based on just a 60-game season, however, that’s the cards the front office has been dealt. What amounts to about one-third of a normal season is all Dick Williams and Nick Krall have to work with. One thing is for sure, Joey Votto‘s defense was well below what was expected, and the Cincinnati Reds could use an upgrade at first base.

Votto’s defense was horrendous this season. The former Gold Glover had five errors on the season, which tied him with Pete Alonso for the most among National League first basemen. After totaling 40 defensive runs saved (DRS) over the previous three seasons, Votto recorded -7 DRS in 2020, the worst among all first basemen according to FanGraphs.

With all of that being said, Joey Votto is an integral part of this team and is still owed $75M over the next three seasons. He’s not going anywhere. The Reds only hope to improve defensively at first base, is for thee universal DH to return next season.

With Votto earning $25M next season, it’s not as if the Cincinnati Reds are going to bring in a big-name first baseman to take over. Cincinnati could, however, turn to Mike Moustakas, who played 10 games at first base this season and under contract through 2023. Moustakas held his own, committing just one error in 63.2 innings, but last year’s prized free agent signing had -1 DRS.

If the Reds choose to roll with Moustakas at first base, that would leave a glaring hole at second base. In that event, Cincinnati could solve their overcrowded outfield problem by moving Nick Senzel to second base. Senzel, who’s currently the Reds centerfielder, is a converted third baseman who could easily slide back onto the infield dirt.

In limited time this season, Senzel put up 1 DRS while in center field according to FanGraphs. While not a terrible defensive outfielder, sliding Moustakas to first base and Senzel to second base would allow for the trio of Jesse Winker (LF), Shogo Akiyama (CF) and Nick Castellanos (RF) to be your regulars in the outfield. Aristides Aquino can play both corner outfield spots as well.

Next. Way-too-early 2021 Reds roster

Of course, this scenario only works if the National League adopts the designated hitter for the 2021 season. A special exception was made in 2020 in an effort to keep pitchers fresh with the compressed schedule. For the Reds sake, let’s hope the DH is a permanent fixture in the National League.