Could Reds outfielder Jesse Winker enter the trade conversation?
It seems strange that while the Cincinnati Reds have been reportedly shopping players this offseason that Jesse Winker‘s name has yet to emerge. Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, and Eugenio Suárez have all heard their names mentioned in possible trade scenarios, but Winker has yet to draw interest. Might that change in the coming weeks?
Winker entered the 2020 season with something to prove; could he stay healthy? An abbreviated season helped him reach that goal, and the universal designated hitter provided Winker with an everyday spot in David Bell’s batting order.
However, the Reds enter the 2021 season with a similarly crowded outfield, as Shogo Akiyama, Nick Castellanos, Nick Senzel, and Aristides Aquino will be battling Winker for playing time in the upcoming season. Without the DH in play during the 2021 campaign, will Winker’s defense be enough to find a role for him next season?
Or, might Cincinnati’s best option be to trade the former first-round pick? With Winker entering his first year of arbitration eligibility, the left-handed slugger is a relatively low-cost option for teams looking to bolster their hitting. Winker’s 1.3 WAR and 142 OPS+ were the best among Reds position players last season.
So why trade, arguably, your best offensive weapon from a team who’s struggling to hit above the Mendoza line? It’s the same reason Cincinnati is fielding calls for Sonny Gray. One look at the free agent market and you won’t see too many top-flight outfielders available.
George Springer is in a category by himself, and is likely to sign a deal worth north of $100M this winter. Marcell Ozuna will likely sign for big bucks as well. Joc Pederson will certainly garner some interest, as will Michael Brantley and Ohio-native Kyle Schwarber. We’ve already seen Adam Eaton sign a one-year deal worth $7M and Hunter Renfroe inked a $3.1M deal from the Boston Red Sox.
If a team, like the Miami Marlins, is looking for an inexpensive, left-handed power bat, Jesse Winker might fit the bill. MLB insider Jon Heyman recently reported that the Marlins are looking to acquire a left-handed outfielder for the upcoming season.
There are pluses and minuses to trading a player like Winker. When he’s hot, as Winker showed for a 25-game stretch in 2020 (.397/.484/.859), he can be one of the best hitters in baseball. However, the month of September (.104/.302/.250) showed what happens when Winker isn’t seeing the ball well.
No reports have surfaced, but given the penchant this offseason for the Cincinnati Reds to shop their star players, it’s not a long shot to assume Jesse Winker might soon find his name on the trade block as well. The coming weeks should give us a deeper insight into what the Reds plan to do in 2021; compete or rebuild?