We're several days removed from reports of the Cincinnati Reds signing Jeimer Candelario to a three-year/$45-million contract, and several fans are still trying to wrap their minds around the signing.
Some are curious if a trade is now in the works involving Jonathan India or perhaps one of the Reds young infielders. Others wish the Reds had spent that money on pitching. Still others don't mind seeing Cincinnati add a bat, but wish it was an outfielder rather than an infielder.
But by signing Candelario, the Reds have, in effect, added a full-time outfielder to the roster. While Spencer Steer's versatility could still see last year's rookie snag some reps on the infield dirt, it's very likely that most of his playing time will be in left field.
Reds fans divided over Jeimer Candelario signing
The Cincinnati Reds entered the 2023 season with Spencer Steer penciled in as the team's starting third baseman. But after a little less than a month, Jason Vosler became unplayable, Tyler Stephenson didn't work out at first base, and Steer shifted to the other side of the infield.
As of April 26th last season, most of Steer's starts came at first base. But once Cincinnati promoted Elly De La Cruz and Matt McLain to the big league roster, and Joey Votto returned to the Reds lineup, Steer needed a new place to call home.
Steer's first start in left field came in ealry-June, and eventually the rookie collected 45 games playing the position. Steer even logged 11 innings in right field as well, but his arm profiles better as a left fielder.
Will the Reds still look to sign an outfielder after signing Jeimer Candelario?
Reds fans have had a desire to see president of baseball operations Nick Krall chase some power-hitting outfielders like Jorge Soler and Teoscar Hernandez. However, after inking Jeimer Candelario to a three-year deal, it's more likely the remainder of the Cincinnati's budget goes toward pitching.
While playing left field last season, Steer was credited with one outfield assist and did not commit an error. The advanced metrics did not look favorably upon Steer's defense in 2023.
According to Baseball Savant, the versatile rookie was worth -17 outs above average. However, Steer graded out worse at first base (-5 OAA) and third base (-6 OAA) than he did in left field (-4 OAA). FanGraphs was a bit kinder, as Steer recorded -3 defensive runs saved between first and third base, but 0 DRS while playing left field.
Even if the Cincinnati Reds didn't sign Jeimer Candelario, it's quite likely that Spencer Steer would see the majority of his time in left field. Adding the switch-hitting infielder, however, makes it all but official.
Expect to see the lion's share of Steer's starts come in left field next season. With the trio of TJ Friedl, Jake Fraley, and Will Benson as well, the Reds outfield looks to be turning intoo one of the team's strengths heading into 2024.