Evaluating the Reds shortstop options for the 2022 season

Cincinnati Reds players celebrate after a victory.
Cincinnati Reds players celebrate after a victory. / Emilee Chinn/GettyImages

I've been putting this one off for quite some time, but it's time to evaluate the Cincinnati Reds options at shortstop heading into the 2022. Most other positions are pretty clear cut; Joey Votto at first base, Jonathan India at second base, and Jesse Winker in left field. But who'll be the Reds starting shortstop in 2022?

Heading into last season, the Reds had no real viable options at shortstop. Cincinnati didn't pursue any of the top free agents, and ended up with Dee Strange-Gordon as their potential starter at shortstop.

Who should be the Reds starting SS in 2022?

Thankfully that never materialized, but it's not as if the team's solution was much better. Eugenio Suárez became the Reds starting shortstop on Opening Day, while Mike Moustakas shifted from second base back to the hot corner, and Jonathan India made his rookie debut as Cincinnati's starting second baseman.

Unfortunately, Geno's return to shortstop was a disaster. An injury to Moustakas forced Kyle Farmer into the lineup as the team's starting shortstop and Suárez shifted back to third base. While Suárez struggled at the dish no matter where he lined up defensively, Farmer shined in his new role and was the unquestioned starting shortstop for the remainder of the 2021 season.

So, heading into 2022, Farmer should be the Cincinnati Reds starting shortstop, right? I mean, the 31-year-old posted a career-best .416 slugging percentage and 1.6fWAR. Farmer hit a respectable .266/.316/.416 with a career-high 16 home runs.

Let's not forget that Kyle Farmer also played terrific defense. A converted catcher, Farmer was worth 2 defensive runs saved and led the Cincinnati Reds in outs above average with 5 OAA. So why in the world are we even discussing who will be the Reds starting shortstop in 2022?

Reds SS Jose Barrero should be given every opportunity this spring.

Because one of the team's top infield prospects, Jose Barrero, had a fantastic 2021 campaign at both Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville. Barrero, a Cuban defector who signed for nearly $5M during the 2016-17 international signing period, and has been rocketing up the Reds farm system in recent years.

Barrero has long since been viewed as a glove-first shortstop. The 23-year-old can make all the plays, all the throws, and has more than enough athleticism and agility to stick at the shortstop position over the long haul.

The question surrounding Barrero was whether or not his bat would play at the major league level. Barrero did nothing except dominate minor league pitching last season. In 85 games between both Chattanooga and Louisville last season, Barrero hit .303/.380/.539 with a 9.5% walk-rate and a wRC+ of 147. Barrero racked up 19 doubles, 19 home runs, and 66 RBIs.

There's little more that Jose Barrero can prove in the minors and it's time for the Cincinnati Reds to elevate him for prospect to starter. As much as I enjoy watching Kyle Farmer play, Barreo is the future of this team and player the Reds need to commit to over the long haul.

Of course the job should not just be handed over Barrero next spring, but if neither of the two separates himself while in Goodyear for spring training, Farmer should return to being the team's top utility infielder off the bench.

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Cincinnati toyed with the idea of shifting Jose Barrero to the outfield. While this may work in a pinch, under no circumstances should Barrero line up in center field on March 31, 2022 versus the Chicago Cubs. Barreo is the team's top shortstop prospect and it's high time the Reds started treating him that way.