The biggest mistake the Reds made with Nick Senzel is not what you think it is

Moving Nick Senzel to the outfield in 2019 wasn't the Reds' biggest mistake.
Cincinnati Reds infielder Nick Senzel
Cincinnati Reds infielder Nick Senzel / Adam Hunger/GettyImages
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The Nick Senzel era finally came to a close today as the Cincinnati Reds non-tendered the former first-round pick. Many Reds fans are sure to take to social media and claim that the team failed Senzel and should have never moved him to the outfield.

Don't forget that Eugenio Suarez was coming off an All-Star selection, hit 34 homers, and was signed to a massive contract extension in 2018. Geno, after signing a team-friendly deal, was not going to be traded and Senzel was not going to take over at third base in 2019.

No, the Reds biggest mistake with Senzel was not the club's refusal to play him at third base in 2019, but rather the signing of Mike Moustakas in December of that year and their insistence for him to play second base in 2020.

Moving Nick Senzel to the outfield in 2019 was not the Reds biggest mistake

The Cincinnati Reds actually entered the 2019 season with a lot of hope. After waving goodbye to Bryan Price the year before and bringing in David Bell as the manager, the club had a new direction.

Cincinnati traded for Sonny Gray during the offseason, and looked to have a solid stable of young starting pitchers that included Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, and Anthony DeSclafani.

The team was also returning three All-Stars from the season before with Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, and Scooter Gennett. There was also the exciting young bat of Jesse Winker and two fun-loving veterans in Derek Dietrich and Jose Iglesias. And let's not forget the Wild Horse, Yasiel Puig.

If Nick Senzel was going to break into the starting lineup, it was going to be in the outfield. The University of Tennessee product was lauded for his athletic ability and the Reds made the decision to move him from the infield dirt to the outfield grass.

Senzel produced during his rookie season despite beginning the year at Triple-A due to the Reds' outlandish idea that Scott Schebler would be the better Opening Day centerfielder. But Senzel still played in 104 games, hit .256/.315/.427.

Signing Mike Moustakas was the biggest Reds failure in recent memory

A preseason injury to Scooter Gennett in 2019 ended the hometown slugger's run with the Cincinnati Reds. Gennett was traded at the deadline to the San Francisco Giants, and Cincinnati shuffled the likes of Jose Peraza, Derek Dietrich, and Freddy Galvis at the keystone.

But heading into 2020, no one laid claim to second base. After watching Senzel's rookie campaign come to premature end following a shoulder injury after crashing into the outfield wall, the Reds had the perfect opportunity to move him to second base and sign a free agent centerfielder during the offseason.

The Reds did sign Shogo Akiyama to a three-year/$21-million contract, but before that the Cincinnati Reds made a splash in free agency and decided to sign Mike Moustakas to a club-record four-year/$64-million contract. Unfortunately, every single Reds fan knows how this story ended.

That duo would go on to be two of the biggest disappointments in the history of the Reds franchise. Akiyama turned out to be nothing more than a slap-hitter and Moustakas spent as much in the training room as Senzel.

Cincinnati designated Akiyama for assignment in 2022 and gave him a going-away present of $8-million. Moose was DFA'd prior to the 2023 season and paid $22-million to go play for the Colorado Rockies.

Fans will look back on Nick Senzel's career with the Cincinnati Reds and play the "what if" game. But the biggest mistake on the part of the Reds was not moving Senzel to the outfield, but it was the refusal to pivot once it became clear that he wasn't a fit, either at the position or with the team.

By the way, don't lay all the blame for Nick Senzel's failures at the feet of the Reds front office. Senzel himself never lived up to the hype of being the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Both parties share an equal share of the blame for Senzel's shortcomings.

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