Should the Reds take a gamble on this injury-prone centerfielder?

Chicago White Sox centerfielder Adam Engel
Chicago White Sox centerfielder Adam Engel / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds are looking for an upgrade in the outfield, so why not bring one of their own home? Cincinnati native Adam Engel is one of the top centerfielders left in free agency.

There is so much to like about this potential signing that seems almost silly that it hasn't happened yet. The Reds have historically always loved having homegrown talent on their squad, and Engel certainly fits the bill.

Engel was born in Cincinnati and played for Loveland High School. Engel played collegiately at the University of Louisville and was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2013. Engel has spent parts of six seasons in the big leagues while playing for the South Siders.

Should the Reds take a gamble on this injury-prone centerfielder?

With players like Cody Bellinger and Kevin Kiermaier off the market, Adam Engel is one of the best centerfielders remaining on the free agent market. Being a right-handed batter, Engel could be a nice platoon option to play alongside the left-handed hitting TJ Friedl in center field.

However, a recent rash of injuries would certainly give the Reds cause to pause before doling out millions of dollars in order to sign Engel. There was, of course, the pandemic-shortened 2020 season in which Engel played 36 games. In 2021, hamstring and shoulder injuries limited him to just 39 appearances. And last season, Engel missed a handful of games due to injury as well.

Engel's performance at the plate took a hit last season as well. Engel slashed just .224/.269/.310 after posting a slash line of .270/.335/.488 in his limited action between 2020 and 2021.

Of course, injuries and lack of production have essentially defined the center field position of the Cincinnati Reds of late. Former first-round draft pick Nick Senzel has ended three of his first four seasons on the IL, and even right now, is recovering from offseason surgery.

Of course Adam Engel isn't going to solve all the Reds woes, but he's been an above-average defender in center field. According to FanGraphs, Engel has posted eight defensive runs saved over the last three seasons while in center field and has 21 DRS over his career. Nick Senzel, according to Fielding Bible, was one of the worst outfield defenders with -11 DRS.

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