Season-ending injury calls Nick Senzel's future in center field, and with the Reds, into question

Cincinnati Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel.
Cincinnati Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel. / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Cincinnati Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel will miss the remainder of the 2022 season after crashing into the outfield wall on Tuesday night and suffering a broken toe. This will be the third time in four seasons that Senzel will finish the year on the IL.

In his rookie season, Senzel suffered shoulder injury after colliding with the center field wall. His 2020 season was interrupted by a prolonged stint on the injured list due to illness. Last season, Senzel appeared in just 36 games due to a knee injury.

This latest injury, combined with his lack of production, certainly calls into question Senzel's future with the Reds. But now is not the time for Cincinnati to part ways with the former first-round pick. That said, his role on the team will have to change.

Nick Senzel can no longer be considered an everyday player for the Reds.

Nick Senzel did set a career-high in games played (110) this season, but that's about where the accolades stop. Senzel had made adjustments to his batting stance in recent weeks, and those adjustments had been resulting in harder hit balls. The five-game series in St. Louis saw Senzel go 5-for-20 with a double and a home run.

While some may advocate for the Cincinnati Reds to non-tender the former No. 2-overall pick, that seems rather unlikely. Senzel is under team-control through the 2025 season and has minor league options remaining. That, coupled with the uncertainty of the 2023 season will likely see Senzel return next season along with a modest raise from his $1.25M salary.

Few have ever questioned the talent of Senzel, but his inability to stay on the field must result in changes heading into next season. Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, and even Stuart Fairchild have all shown flashes this season, and with highly-touted center field prospect Mike Siani currently at Triple-A, it would seem as though Senzel's time in the outfield is coming to an end.

The former third baseman has seen some time on the infield grass this season, but the presence of Jonathan India, Spencer Steer, Jose Barrero, and Kyle Farmer will make it difficult for Senzel to break in to the everyday lineup. There is also another former first-round draft pick, Matt McLain, who's knocking on the door.

Nick Senzel's career with the Cincinnati Reds has, unfortunately, been defined by his inability to stay healthy. It seems unlikely that the Reds front office would be willing to part with University of Tennessee product during the offseason, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.

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