Noelvi Marte's defensive miscues may push Reds to make an eventual position change

The third baseman's arm has been a liability for Cincinnati, but it may also be a solution for the Reds' outfield woes.

Cincinnati Reds v New York Yankees
Cincinnati Reds v New York Yankees / Luke Hales/GettyImages

Noelvi Marte’s much-awaited return from an 80-game suspension promised to add much needed pop to the Reds’ lineup, but his glove has quickly offset any offensive worth. In his first 10 games back in the Majors, the third baseman committed five errors. If the trend continues, the Reds may have to reconsider Marte’s position on the field.

Despite Marte’s lackluster offensive performance at Triple-A Louisville and his six straight multi-strikeout games entering Tuesday, Marte’s bat has the potential to right himself at the plate. He only has 22 games – just 94 plate appearances – under his belt since returning to play and was dealing with a hamstring injury prior to his suspension. He’s a career .277 hitter across all levels. There’s little reason to believe he can’t regain this form.

Marte’s glove, though, is another consideration altogether. Despite his fielding skills being graded as a 50, his work has been well below average even before his suspension. His fielding percentage in the Minors was .920, and he has been even worse in the Majors. Last season, he had a -2.2 ultimate zone rating. He has contributed -3 outs above average in 2024.

Noelvi Marte’s poor fielding may force the Reds to find a new position for the former top prospect.

Four of Marte’s five errors in 2024 have been throwing errors on plays when he had ample time to set his feet and make the play. His two-out error in the eighth inning of the series finale against the Detroit Tigers was particularly costly.

Marte's arm strength, though, is also one of his fielding assets. Last season, Marte maxed out at 90.4 mph, but he has not completed enough throws at the Major League level to register among the arm strength leaders.

Assuming the Reds want to give Marte time for his bat to come around, Cincinnati could try Marte in the outfield. Jazz Chisholm makes an interesting parallel here. His -9 outs above average in 2021 prompted a move to second base and then center field, where he could put his arm on display.

The Reds are desperately searching for answers to their outfield struggles. A potential stop-gap may be as close as third base.

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