Reds: It’s painfully obvious that Eugenio Suarez is not a shortstop

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JUNE 25: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds in action. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JUNE 25: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds in action. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

This was a swing and a miss on the part of the Cincinnati Reds ownership and front office. The organization, with the best of intentions, tried moving Eugenio Suarez to shortstop this season. The experiment has failed miserably, and now the team has a difficult problem on their hands.

Geno has returned to his usual position at third base while Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel are on the 60-day IL. Soon enough both Moose and Senzel will be healthy, and then David Bell is going to have to navigate how to get all three adequate playing time.

The easiest solution is to go back to the starting infield we saw from Cincinnati on Opening Day with Suarez at shortstop, Moustakas at third base, Jonathan India at second base, and Joey Votto at first base. That configuration may keep Geno’s bat in the lineup, but it’s not as if that’s been a good thing in 2021.

Even with Eugenio Suarez at SS, the Reds have an overcrowded infield.

Now, we have to admit that moving Eugenio Suarez to shortstop wasn’t all bad, as it did allow the coaching staff to insert Jonathan India into the starting lineup. I think everyone throughout Reds Country can agree that India has a bright future at the keystone.

But now, that leaves David Bell without a true shortstop. Kyle Farmer has done an admirable job fielding the position this season, especially over the last several weeks with Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel out of the lineup. But Farmer is a marginal starter and is much more suited to be coming off the bench for a team with championship aspirations.

Suarez, despite having 14 total errors on the season, has zero defensive runs saved over 408.1 innings while fielding third base. That’s an improvement over the last two seasons, when Geno posted -10 DRS at the hot corner. Unfortunately, during Suarez’s 265.1 innings at shortstop, the 29-year-old is responsible for -7 DRS according to FanGraphs.

Those defensive miscues can be costly. According to Baseball Savant, Geno has -1 outs above average at third base this season. That’s a serviceable number, but the -12 OAA while manning shortstop cannot be overlooked.

Don’t look for Reds manager David Bell to solve this problem.

This problem is one of poor roster construction, and has little to do with David Bell’s ability to manage his team. That said, these are the cards that Bell has been dealt, and once Moustakas and Senzel return from the IL, Bell will have his work cut out for him.

Senzel came up as an infielder and actually saw time at second and third base this season, though Bell may want to see the former first-round pick return to centerfielder where he started on Opening Day.

Figuring out how to balance playing time between Suarez, Moustakas, India, and Farmer may be the more difficult task. Moose is taking home $16M this season and is under contract through 2023. Suarez is hauling in $10.5M this season and is owed $33M through the 2024 season with a $15M team-option for 2025.

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Look for the Cincinnati Reds to ride out this abundance of infield talent for the remainder of the 2021 season. No team is going to want to trade for an underperforming Eugenio Suarez or an oft-injured Mike Moustakas. Perhaps the Reds could find a trade partner in the offseason, or maybe Moose will move into the likely role of universal DH in 2022.