The Reds answer at shortstop in 2021 is Freddy Galvis.
Reds Country can stop the madness. There’s no need to scour the minor leagues, anticipate a soon-to-be free agent, or pull off a blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Indians. The answer to the Cincinnati Reds vacancy at shortstop is a name you already know; Freddy Galvis.
Galvis is the best option to bridge the gap between the beginning of the 2021 season and the time that José García’s bat is major league-ready. Last season, when it seemed as though the season was lost, we saw the Cincinnati front office turn to their young prospect, and while García’s glove proved to be up to snuff, the same could not be said for his bat.
Freddy Galvis is currently a free agent. He along with several other shortstops will be looking for employment this offseason. Didi Gregorius leads a group that also includes four-time Gold Glove winner Andrelton Simmons and Marcus Semien, a player that finished third in the AL MVP vote in 2019.
Of course Gregorius would be a phenomenal addition to the Reds next season, but according to MLB Trade Rumors, it’s going to cost a pretty-penny to insnare his services. It’s predicted that Gregorius could land a three-year/$39M contract after signing a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies last season.
The Reds should steer clear of any commitment to a shortstop beyond the 2021 season, as García may even be ready to take the reins next summer after some seasoning in the minor leagues. Both Simmons and Semien are projected to take home one-year contracts, but both are likely to land deals over $13M next season.
Cincinnati already has several highly-paid players under contract next season. Joey Votto, Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Eugenio Suárez, Sonny Gray, Shogo Akiyama, Tucker Barnhart, Raisel Iglesias, and Wade Miley will collectively make up about $102M worth of committed salary for the 2021 season.
On top of that, several arbitration-eligible players will be receiving a raise next season. MLB Trade Rumors predicts Luis Castillo, Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, Jesse Winker, Tyler Mahle, and Archie Bradley can expect to occupy between $15.5M-$23.2M of the Reds payroll next season. That brings the total already committed to next year’s team up to $117M-$125M.
That number only includes 15 players. Throw in the league minimum for the remaining 11 players required to fill out the Cincinnati Reds 26-man Opening Day roster, and you’re looking at payroll between $123M-$131M. Last season, according to Spotrac, the Reds front office operated with its most expensive payroll ($145M) to date.
Given the current economic climate brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and the uncertainty involving fans at ballparks next season, owners are going to be leery of committing money to mid-tier free agents this offseason. The Reds, being a small market franchise, will be looking for bargains. Freddy Galvis will be just that next season.
Let’s not pretend that Galvis is horrendous option to open the season at shortstop for the Reds next season. With a career-fielding percentage of .984, Galvis is an above-average defender. According to FanGraphs, with the exception of last season’s 60-game schedule, Galvis has had three or more defensive runs saved since 2016.
The switch-hitting Galvis also affords David Bell options. We know that the Reds skipper loves to play matchups, Galvis’ ability to turn around and hit lefties is a definite plus. Galvis’ ability to hit from the left-side also give Bell options if García gets the call midseason, as he would be able to platoon the pair depending on the pitching matchup.
We’re also talking about a player who adds pop to the Reds lineup. Galvis’ OPS has climbed in recent years, due mostly to his increased power. Last season, Galvis’ .404 slugging percentage was second only to the previous season when he mashed a career-high 23 home runs and owned a .438 slugging percentage.
Freddy Galvis, for his career, has not been a very disciplined hitter. But, in a limited number of games last season, the 31-year-old showed more patience at the dish with a career-best 8.2% walk-rate. He also lower his strikeout-rate from 24.6% in 2019 to 18.9%.
Galvis will not be highly sought after this winter. The Cincinnati Reds know what they have in the veteran, and he showed humility last season when he was able to put his ego aside and help mentor José García. Freddy Galvis is unlikely to go to the All-Star Game, but in a season when money will be tight, he offers the most bang for the buck.