For all you Reds fans who want to see Elly De La Cruz change positions, I have good news - he's willing to do it.
The Cincinnati Enquirer's Charlie Goldsmith sat down with De La Cruz and interpreter Jorge Merlos this past week, and during their conversation, the Reds infielder revealed that he's willing to play wherever the team needs him next season.
That team-first attitude is great and all, but the Cincinnati Reds should be in no rush to move De La Cruz off shortstop after fewer than 100 games in the big leagues.
Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz is willing to change positions
It's easy to look at Elly De La Cruz's raw abilities and dream on what could be for the Cincinnati Reds' budding superstar. With his speed and arm strength, not to mention his 6-foot-5 frame, many fans have suggested that De La Cruz could be the perfect right fielder for the Reds.
And they may be right. A player with De La Cruz's skillset might thrive in the outfield. We've seen Mookie Betts and Fernando Tatis Jr. make the adjustment and both are MVP-caliber players.
However, let's pump the brakes just a bit before demanding De La Cruz switch from the most valuable defensive position on the field after less than a year of playing shortstop in the major leagues.
The Reds don't have a great track record turning infielders into outfielders
The Reds haven't even reassigned Nick Senzel's No. 15 jersey yet, and fans are still clamoring that Cincinnati "ruined" him after pushing the former first-round pick from the infield dirt to the outfield grass. Maybe more information needs to be gathered before thrusting De La Cruz into the outfield.
Some fans tend to forget that De La Cruz is just 21 years old. Yes, he committed a ton of errors in 2023. Those 14 miscues are hard to ignore. However, according to Baseball Savant, De La Cruz registered 4 outs above average (OAA), which ranks him among the 85th percentile.
Furthermore, do the Cincinnati Reds really have a better option to take over at shortstop right now? After another below-average defenisve performance from Jonathan India at second base in 2023, Matt McLain should be the unquestioned starter at the keystone moving forward.
I suppose that Noelvi Marte could slide to his left and enable Spencer Steer to be the Reds everyday third baseman rather than moving him to the outfield. However, Steer's versatility is his best attribute, and his defensive performance at third base (-6 OAA) left a lot to the imagination
There's certainly merit to the conversation. And no, I wouldn't object to seeing Elly De La Cruz shag some balls in the outfield. But De La Cruz's struggles at the plate were far more concerning than anything I saw from him defensively.
In that same conversation with Charlie Goldsmith, De La Cruz spoke through interpreter Jorge Merlos about developing better pitch recognition during the offseason.
Making adjustments to his approach in the batters' box far outweighs where Elly De La Cruz lines up defensively. Rather than rush to move De La Cruz to the outfield, let's allow him to figure things out with the bat first.