The Cincinnati Reds should investigate trading left fielder Jesse Winker to the Texas Rangers.
The Cincinnati Reds have an abundance of outfielders and the Texas Rangers are said to be in the market for a left fielder. With Jesse Winker coming off a healthy 2020 campaign, albeit only a 60-game season, Nick Krall should sell-high ship Winker to the Lone Star State.
On the surface, it might seem a bit foolish to trade your best offensive player from a 2020 squad that couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat. After all, Winker slashed .255/.388/.544 with 12 home runs and 23 RBIs. Perhaps more impressive for Winker was the fact that he stayed relatively healthy throughout the season, making an appearance in 54 of the 60 games.
During his rookie season in 2018, Winker found his way onto the injured list after the All-Star break with a shoulder injury and played in just 89 games. In 2019, Winker also finished the year on the IL and participated in just 113 games.
Jesse Winker is a solid offensive player, but he’s rather streaky. When he’s on, he’s really on. Winker went on a tear last season beginning with a game against the Cleveland Indians on August 4th. Throughout the remainder of the month, Winker started 25 games and hit .397/.484/.859.
However, Winker limped through the remainder of the regular season, going 5-for-48 (.104) during the month of September. The left-handed hitting slugger had just two home runs and 17 punch outs during those 19 games.
Trading Winker now, as he enters the first year of his arbitration window, would be the most advantageous thing for the Reds to do. Cincinnati’s front office is looking to save some money, and rather than trading Sonny Gray, perhaps Krall and front office should look to shed Winker’s 2021 salary, which according to MLB Trade Rumors, is projected to be between $2M-$3.4M.
There’s also the matter of the team’s overcrowded outfield. Entering the 2021 season, with no universal DH, Cincinnati would have Winker, Nick Senzel, Nick Castellanos, Shogo Akiyama, and Aristides Aquino all slated to split time in the outfield. Given Castellanos’ large contract and Akiyama’s defense, it stands to reason that those two would get the lion’s share of playing time.
The Reds brass is still waiting for Senzel to put together a healthy season and live up to his first-round potential, but an inability to stay on the field during his first two seasons have likely severely diminished his trade value. Aquino, who hasn’t lived up to the hype he garnered in August of 2019, is still a talented outfielder, but he’s now out of minor league options.
Cincinnati already non-tendered outfielder Brian Goodwin and the team has Mark Payton and minor leaguers like TJ Friedl who could fill a bench role on next year’s team. The Reds need to find a way to declutter the outfield picture heading into spring training.
But what could the Cincinnati Reds expect to get in return for Jesse Winker. Surprisingly, while most fans in Reds Country may not value what Winker brings to the team, his career 123 OPS+ has to be appealing to the vast majority of teams looking for help in the outfield. Winker is a player with a knack for getting on base, as his career-OBP of .380 clearly indicates.
Might Cincinnati be able to pry away a pair of young arms? Nick Krall has stated that he’s on the lookout for relief pitchers with minor league options remaining. Would the Rangers be willing to part ways with a player like left-hander Joe Palumbo and maybe Kyle Cody?
As the Cincinnati Reds enter the virtual Winter Meetings this week, the team’s primary focus should be getting better without breaking the bank. The team has already been weakened by letting go of catcher Curt Casali and right-handed reliever Archie Bradley. It’s time for the Reds to make a move that helps the payroll and the roster.