Have the Reds found a suitable replacement for Jesse Winker?

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jake Fraley.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jake Fraley. / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages

The Cincinnati faithful were so disillusioned back in March when the Reds front office made the decision to trade Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez to the Seattle Mariners.

The fanbase was already trying to wrap their minds around the idea of starters Sonny Gray and Wade Miley no longer being part of the rotation, not to mention the team's lack of interest in bringing back 2021 All-Star outfielder Nick Castellanos.

But once Winker and Geno were dealt to the Mariners, Reds Country knew that they were in for a long season. That moment single-handedly signaled that the Cincinnati Reds were entering another rebuild. The Reds essentially traded two All-Stars for a lot of question marks. But maybe Nick Krall knew all along that he was getting a solid return.

Jake Fraley looks to be suitable replacement for Jesse Winker in the Reds outfield.

While his batting average is still below .230, Eugenio Suarez has enjoyed a bounce-back season with the Seattle Mariners. Jesse Winker struggled early on with his new squad, but the All-Star outfielder has played much better of late.

The key return in the trade with Seattle was assumed to be left-handed pitching prospect Brandon Williamson. The southpaw is currently pitching at Triple-A Louisville and will likely be in the mix for a spot in net year's rotation. But Jake Fraley has shown himself to be a force to be reckoned with since returning from the IL.

Not much was known about Fraley when the trade was executed this past spring. He was said to have good pitch recognition, and a walk-rate north of 13.0% would seem to suggest that was accurate. Fraley is also athletic and has above-average speed which is something that really could not be said about Jesse Winker.

Jake Fraley had 6 defensive runs saved (DRS) during his time in left field with the Mariners from 2020-2021. Jesse Winker posted -4 DRS with the Reds during that same time span and has -13 DRS with Seattle this season. So it's fair to say that, defensively, the Reds have an upgrade with Fraley in the lineup.

Of course Jesse Winker was always known more for his bat than his glove. While Da Wink has struggled in 2022, his production of late has been much better. For the season, Winker is hitting .225/.344/.366 with 13 home runs and wRC+ of 114 in 108 games played.

Fraley, who spent more than two months on the Injured List with a lower leg injury, is slashing .237/.318/.464 with six round trippers and a wRC+ of 112 in just 32 games. Fraley's power was on full display Saturday night in Pittsburgh when the outfielder launched a home run out of PNC Park and into the Allegheny River.

Winker signed a two-year/$14.5M contract extension with the Mariners midway through the season. Fraley will not even reach his arbitration window until after next season, so the Reds will have plenty of time to evaluate the 27-year-old's long-term future with the club.

It's much too early to declare a winner or loser in this past spring's trade, but for now, it looks as though the Cincinnati Reds at least have a suitable replacement for Jesse Winker in left field.

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