Reds have everything to gain and nothing to lose by playing Nick Senzel at third base
By Drew Koch
The Cincinnati Reds play a Cactus League game against the Seattle Mariners tonight in Goodyear, Arizona. This will be one of the final tuneups for the Redlegs before heading north to Cincinnati for Opening Day on March 30th.
Nick Senzel, who's been sidelined all spring while recovering from toe surgery, appeared in Wednesday night's exhibition game. Senzel came on in the seventh inning and played center field.
But for Thursday's contest, Senzel is headed back to the infield dirt and will be the Cincinnati Reds starting third baseman. This is a great development and the team has everything to gain and nothing to lose by moving Senzel back to his natural position.
Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel gets spring training start at third base.
David Bell has already spoken about the idea of moving Nick Senzel around to both second and third base during the upcoming season while also allowing the former first-round pick to get reps in center field.
Throughout his entire college and minor league career, Senzel's feet never left the dirt. However, after non-tendering Billy Hamilton in 2018, the Reds had a void that needed to be filled in the middle of the outfield. The assumption was that Senzel's athletic ability would provide him the necessary tools to play center field adequately.
Senzel's defensive numbers in the outfield have never been great. According to FanGraphs, Senzel has -17 defensive runs saved while playing center field. That includes -11 DRS last season.
After releasing Mike Moustakas and trading Kyle Farmer, third base was all of the sudden vacant. Cincinnati gave the majority of playing time to rookie Spencer Steer this spring and the former Minnesota Twins farmhand is expected to the Reds Opening Day third baseman next week.
But Steer has not looked great defensively, logging four errors during Cactus League. With Jason Vosler failing to impress and Christian Encarnacion-Strand focusing more on first base, Senzel would appear to be Bell's backup plan in the event that Steer's defensive miscues continue into the regular season.
At this point in his career, the Cincinnati Reds have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by moving Nick Senzel back to third base. If he fails to impress, the Reds were not counting on much in the first place.
But, if Senzel can stay healthy, hit for average, and play sound defense at third base, then the front office will be doing backflips. Senzel is under team control through 2025 and is on a very affordable deal this season.
Nick Senzel lining up at the hot corner could be a sign of things to come. While he's not expected to be on the Reds Opening Day roster, it won't Senzel too long to get into game-shape.