3 takeaways following the Reds surprising move to option Nick Senzel to Triple-A

This move was surprising, but necessary.

Cincinnati Reds infielder Nick Senzel
Cincinnati Reds infielder Nick Senzel / Rob Leiter/GettyImages
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In what can only be described as a surprise, the Cincinnati Reds optioned infielder Nick Senzel to Triple-A Louisville on Friday. The Reds then selected the contract of outfielder Henry Ramos and designated Eduardo Salazar for assignment.

Senzel, while he didn't outright request a trade, had a meeting with Reds manager David Bell and GM Nick Krall prior to the trade deadline to discuss his role with the team. The former first-round pick had become little more than a platoon option for Bell against left-handed pitchers.

Whether that was a contribuiting factor or not, we may never know. But the fact of the matter is that Senzel's playing time was great reduced, and even when he was playing, he wasn't producing. So what does this move mean going forward?

1. Expect to see the Reds trade Nick Senzel during the offseason.

Even before Friday's transaction, it felt as though the Cincinnati Reds and Nick Senzel were set to part ways during the offseason. This move virtually seals the deal.

There aren't many left-handers on the Reds schedule over the next couple of weeks, so with Senzel only seeing the field against southpaws, it made little sense for him to occupy a roster spot over the upcoming 10-game road trip.

Selected with the second-overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, Senzel has never lived up to the hype. Several injuries has been the main culprit, but Senzel has been relatively healthy this season. Senzel has played in 80 games so far this year, but his numbers are replacement level.

Senzel has hit just .219/.290/.368 this season. Against right-handed pitchers, those numbers are even worse. The University of Tennessee product is slashing just .175/.251/.281 in 179 plate appearances against right-handers.

The 27-year-old is owed a raise through arbitration this offseason, and with such a limited role, it seems unlikely that the Cincinnati Reds will look to bring Nick Senzel back in 2024.

2. Optioning Nick Senzel is vote of confidence for Stuart Fairchild.

While Nick Senzel certainly isn't happy about being optioned to Triple-A, this is definitely a vote of confidence for Stuart Fairchild. The Reds could have just as easily optioned Fairchild back to the minors or even TJ Hopkins for that matter.

Look for Fairchild to get more opportunities for regular playing time, especially against left-handed pitching. Instead of Senzel playing out of position on the outfield grass, David Bell can now rely on the speed and glove of Fairchild.

With Henry Ramos joining the fray, there's potential for the veteran to give the Reds more than just a left-handed bat off the bench. Don't forget that Ramos played on the big league club earlier this season after just missing out on making the Opening Day roster.

Ramos, while he's unlikely to fill Jake Fraley's shoes, brings a switch-hitting power bat to the Reds lineup. The day before Ramos joined the club, he walloped a home run for Triple-A Louisville that flew nearly 500 feet.

Stuart Fairchild is under team control for several more seasons, and it appears as though he'll get the opportunity to showcase his talents over the final stretch of the 2023 season. This is a tremendous chance for both Fairchild and Ramos to prove that they belong in the big leagues and can factor into the team's future.

3. Christian Encarnacion-Strand may receive more playing at third base.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand should see more playing time over the next few weeks, and could even find a home at third base on occasion. Though he exited Friday's game after being hit on the hand by a pitch, according to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon, x-rays were negative.

While a lot of Reds fans view Encarnacion-Strand as the future at first base, the former Minnesota Twins farmhand has plenty of experience at the hot corner as well. Encarnacion-Strand played 67 games at Triple-A Louisville this season and drew 16 starts at third base.

With Nick Senzel in Triple-A, fans should expect to see Encarnacion-Strand in the lineup nearly every day. His playing time had been sporadic upon initially joining the Reds, but that will change moving forward.

Spencer Steer has proven to be a versatile defender, and got the start at third base on Friday night in Pittsburgh. Fans could continue to the see the platoon of Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Joey Votto at first base and DH, but don't shocked to see the rookie get time at third base as well.

To this point in the season, Encarnacion-Strand has played just four innings at the hot corner. While it may not be his ultimate position, with Nick Senzel off the active roster, the flexibility is there. Doing so would continue to keep the best bats in the lineup, but allow David Bell to keep players fresh by being more selective with the designated hitter spot in the batting order.