What little trade value Jonathan India has left may be going out the window as the Cincinnati Reds' front office, and now manager David Bell, have continued throughout the offseason to attempt to squeeze a square peg into a round hole.
David Bell spoke with Mark Sheldon of MLB.com about the Reds' infield rotation plans for the 2024 season. During that conversation, Bell said, that there may be other positions that India will need to play. Tell us something we don't know.
While Bell was effusive in his praise for India's mindset, both he and president of baseball operations Nick Krall continue to avoid the major sticking point that everyone except for them seems to see; if India is viewed as an everyday player, where is he going to play?
Reds’ comments on Jonathan India might be killing his trade value
Bell, of course, mentioned second base. That's a position that India's played since his major league debut, but he's struggled to be an above-average defender at the keystone. In 2023, India ranked 36th out of 40 second baseman in outs above average (OAA) according to Baseball Savant. The Reds best defensive second baseman is Matt McLain, and last year's rookie should be starting almost every day at that position.
Bell mentioned there may be other positions for India to play in addition to second base. Where? First base has been tossed about as a possibility by Krall, but both Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Jeimer Candelario will be splitting duties there. Spencer Steer and Tyler Stephenson also have experience at first base.
There've been whispers about giving India reps in the outfield. Why? Cincinnati doesn't have the best track record of doing that. Both Nick Senzel and Jose Barrero are recent examples of that. The Reds also have four capable outfielders on the roster with Blake Dunn lurking in the minors.
The Reds are already attempting to convert Steer into an outfielder in an effort to get his bat into the lineup every day. While Steer warrants such consideration, he's been worth -4 OAA in the outfield to this point, so the jury is still out on whether that transition will work over the long haul.
Jonathan India is an everyday player, but his fit on the Reds roster is highly questionable
There's also the numerous young infield prospects who are working their way through the minor leagues. Edwin Arroyo, Carlos Jorge, Cam Collier, and Sal Stewart will all be in The Show before you know it.
None of this is to suggest that Jonathan India is a bad player, or that roster depth is a problem. Despite his shortcomings in a few areas, India is very good major league player. He's also seen as a tremendous presence in the clubhouse and has a positive influence over the young players on the roster.
But rather than trying to turn India into something he's not, perhaps the best strategy is to trade him before the season begins. India has earned the right to be an everyday player, but he may not be an everyday player on the 2024 Cincinnati Reds.