The Reds competition to sign Didi Gregorius is shrinking.
DJ LeMahieu is set to sign a six-year/$90M contract with the New York Yankees. That’s great news for the Cincinnati Reds. Why? Didi Gregorius, arguably the best shortstop on the open market, was said to be New York’s contingency plan in the event LeMahieu signed elsewhere. This latest agreement could help pave the way for Gregorius to return to the Queen City.
The Reds desperately need a shortstop heading into the 2021 season. If the season began today, Cincinnati would be forced to decide between Kyle Farmer and José García as the team’s starting shortstop.
Personally, I love both of these players. Farmer is hardworking, do-everything utility player that is a great personality in the clubhouse, and he offers tremendous versatility on the field. That said, if this team has championship aspirations, you cannot go into the 2021 season with a player who has just 10 career starts at shortstop and a career .242 batting average.
On the flip side, if Cincinnati were to enter the 2021 season with García as the starting shortstop, they’d be throwing an inexperienced prospect into a position he’s probably not ready for just yet. García, until last season, hadn’t played above A-Ball. While his defensive skillset is outstanding, he’s not yet ready to face major league pitching and needs some more seasoning in the minors.
This brings us right back to the free agent market. There are three, and possibly four plausible options for the Cincinnati Reds via free agency if they’re looking to upgrade the shortstop position before Opening Day on April 1st.
In addition to Gregorius, Marcus Semien, Andrelton Simmons, and yes, last year’s starting shortstop Freddy Galvis are all viable options. Both Gregorius and Semien are looking for multi-year deals, while Galvis and Simmons represent players that will more than likely receive one-year contracts heading into the 2021 season.
Given the current state of the NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds have every opportunity to capitalize on what’s been a quiet offseason. The Milwaukee Brewers have not made any key additions, and it can be argued that both the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals have gotten worse. That will amplified with Kris Bryant, Yadier Molina, and Adam Wainwright are all playing elsewhere in 2021.
Yes, Cincinnati has lost Curt Casali, Archie Bradley, and Raisel Iglesias. There’s every reason to believe that Trevor Bauer will not be returning to the Queen City, and the front office has been rumored to be open to trading Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, Mike Moustakas, and Eugenio Suárez.
However, if the Reds were able to add Didi Gregorius to a lineup that included Moustakas, Suárez, Joey Votto, Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, and Tyler Stephenson, you’d have to consider them the odds-on favorite to win the division.
The time is now. Nick Krall and the Cincinnati Reds ownership need to go all-in and put the full-court press on Didi Gregorius and his representation. Looking at the average annual value of LeMahieu’s contract ($15M), if the Reds offered Gregorius a three-year/$39M contract, the former Cincinnati farmhand may have a hard time saying no.