There are three key players whose future with the Cincinnati Reds seems to be in doubt heading into the offseason. Joey Votto, Jonathan India, and Nick Senzel are all questionable to return in 2024.
Votto has a $20-million team-option and 17 year-worth of history with the fans in Cincinnati. While his production is down, his popularity is always up. India, while a fan-favorite, may no longer have a home on the infield dirt following the emergence of the Reds four rookies this past season.
And Senzel was optioned to Triple-A last summer after questioning his role with the club before the trade deadline. But, Senzel may actually have the best case between the three when it comes to whether the Reds should retain his services for next season.
Nick Senzel was one of the best in MLB against left-handers in 2023.
On the surface, this may be a wildly unpopular opinion. But if given the choice between Joey Votto, Jonathan India, and Nick Senzel, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft may be the best fit on next year's Cincinnati Reds team.
Understand, this isn't to suggest that Senzel is the best of the three players, but in terms of fit on next year's roster, the Reds may actually prefer the University of Tennessee product over both Votto and India.
Senzel was one of the best players in all of baseball last season against left-handed pitching. Senzel hit .347/.389/.619 with a wRC+ of 165 against southpaws according to FanGraphs. That's better than Cody Bellinger, Luis Robert Jr., and Ronald Acuña Jr.
Senzel, who for years was unable to stay on the field, played in 104 games for Cincinnati last season and had over 300 at-bats. While the 28-year-old voiced his displeasure with his role as a platoon player, it's easy to see why manager David Bell pulled Senzel out of the on-deck circle when a right-handed pitcher was on the mound.
Against right-handed pitchers, Senzel hit just .164/.240/.257. That slash line is what got Senzel sent back to the minor leagues in August. But, over his final 24 games which included 13 starts, Senzel hit .305/.328/.525 with four home runs.
Nick Senzel is much more versatile defender than Joey Votto & Jonathan India
Nick Senzel, unlike Joey Votto and Jonathan India, can play all over the diamond. Senzel saw time at second and third base as well as all three outfield spots. Votto (first base) and India (second base) are both limited to just one defensive position, and neither rates very highly when playing there.
The Reds also already have replacments lined up for both Votto and India on the infield for next season. Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Matt McLain should get the lion's share of starts at first and second base respectively.
While his defense may not be elite on the outfield grass, the Reds could always turn to Nick Senzel as the team's designated hitter against left-handed pitching. Once the opposing manager makes a change, Will Benson or Jake Fraley could be substituted for Senzel; both have shown a penchant for hitting right-handed pitching very well.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, Nick Senzel is projected to make $3-million through arbitration next season. That's less than the projected $3.7-million for Jonathan India, and certainly less than what Joey Votto would be making in 2024.
Again, none of this is to suggest that Senzel is the best player of the three in question, but if you were only able to keep one, the former first-round pick is the best fit for next year's Reds team.