2 reasons the Reds should trade Jonathan India this offseason and 2 reasons they shouldn't

What will the Cincinnati Reds do with Jonathan India this offseason?

Cincinnati Reds infielder Jonathan India
Cincinnati Reds infielder Jonathan India / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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Once the Cincinnati Reds decline Joey Votto's $20-million team-option for the 2024 season, which is all but a formality at this point, the club can then turn their attention to Jonathan India.

It seems as though this has become a very polarizing topic in Reds Country; should Cincinnati trade the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year this offseason?

Quite frankly, I can see both sides the argument. But let's try to look at the pros and cons of trading one of the Reds' clubhouse leaders prior to the start of the 2024 season.

The Reds should trade Jonathan India because the infield is too crowded

One reason that the Cincinnati Reds should look to move on from Jonathan India during the offseason is due to the team's infield. There were times in 2023 when four rookies lined up on the infield to start a game.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Noelvi Marte, Matt McLain, and Elly De La Cruz could all conceivably be part of the Reds 2024 Opening Day lineup. This doesn't even included fellow 2023 rookie Spencer Steer who saw plenty of time infield dirt as well.

These young players are going to need at-bats. It would seem as though the Reds' brass as pushing all their chips into the middle of the table and betting on this group of youngsters to lead the team into the future.

It's a bold strategy, but those five rookies mentioned above certainly showed flashes of what the're capable of. India is rather limited defensively, at least form what we've seen to this point, and only played second base during the 2023 season.

This list doesn't even include Edwin Arroyo, a young player who showed great strides in the minor leagues last season. Arroyo may get a chance in the big leagues next season, but should arrive no later thatn 2025.

The Reds should not trade Jonathan India because the 2023 rookie class is unproven

Okay, Reds fans are uber-excited about the crop of young and talented players who made it to The Show this past season. Spencer Steer was consistent, Elly De La Cruz was electric, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand was powerful.

But, if you'll remember back about two years ago there was a gritty, tough, hard-nosed infielder who gutted through his rookie year and looked as though he would be a fixture in the lineup for years to come. His name was Jonathan India.

That's right, that same player that some within the Reds fanbase now wants to ship off to the highest bidder was best thing since sliced bread following his 2021 campaign in which he took home NL Rookie of the Year honors.

Heck, I'll throw another name your way - Tyler Stephenson. Remember how Stephenson was going to be an All-Star catcher who could hit for average and power? Well, here we are two years later and many fans have questions about those two players moving forward.

My point is, just because a player bursts onto the scene for 40 or 50 games during his rookie year doesn't always mean he's going to have sustained success in the big leagues. Will Elly De La Cruz match the hype? Is Noelvi Marte able to string together consistent at-bats for a 162-game season?

It might be worth waiting until Year 2 with several of these young players before trading away Jonathan India. At just 26 years old, India still has three years of team-control remaining.

The Reds should trade Jonathan India because his defense is below-average

This one is big sticking point for the Cincinnati faithful, and it was on full display this season. I don't think anyone is going to question India's toughness and leadership, but questioning his defense is perfectly acceptable given the numbers we've seen the past few seasons.

According to Fielding Bible, India was worth -8 defensive runs saved (DRS) in 2023. For reference, only three second basemen were worse, with Jose Altuve posting a league-worst -13 DRS. Since 2022, India has been worth -22 DRS.

Outs Above Average (OAA) is another popular metric in today's game used to measure a defender's ability, and that statistic doesn't offer much hope either. According to Baseball Savant, was worth -9 OAA. However, don't let it get lost that Spencer Steer is worth -17 OAA. That's definitely not a good number either.

When Matt McLain got into the lineup at second base, the Reds rookie was worth 0 OAA and 0 DRS saved while manning the keystone. So let's not act as though McLain was an elite defender at second base. That said, McLain has much more range than India.

Even Jonathan India's staunchest advocates have to admit that he's been bad defensively. That's not to say that the 26-year-old can't overcome those shortcomings, but to this point, the numbers just aren't very good.

The should not trade Jonathan India because they would be selling low

This is probably my biggest hurdle when it comes to the idea of trading Jonathan India. Some will point to his leadership, citing the team's win-loss record while he was on the IL. Others who defend India will speak to his passion for the game and his will to win.

Those are admirable qualities and something that can't be quantified. However, players like TJ Friedl and Luke Maile showed a willingness to step up and be leaders this season as well. And I'm not going to doubt the fire that burns for any player on this year's Reds team.

However, what I will say is that trading India after back-to-back subpar seasons isn't going to get you much in return. In essence, the Reds would be selling low on India. For all those who believe that Nick Krall could somehow flip India for a No. 2 starter, you better be willing to part with a couple prospects as well.

The defensive deficiencies that were outlined earlier is something that the other 29 organizations can see too, and it's undoubtedly something they'd use in trade negotiations. What I'm asking is, how much are you going to get in return for a player who's hit .246/.333/.394 the past two seasons, battled injuries, plays below-average defense, and is owed a pay raise in 2024?

None of that is meant as a dig at Jonathan India, but when Nick Krall is trying to get the best return from another club, that's what the opposing GM is going to throw back in his face.

Like I said at the outset, I can see both sides of the argument. Yes, the Cincinnati Reds should listen if other teams inquire as to the availability of Jonathan India. However, the Reds should think long and hard about moving on from one of their team leaders who, when healthy, is a very good ballplayer.