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Should the Cincinnati Reds sign Scooter Gennett long term?

Scooter Gennett Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati Reds second baseman, Scooter Gennett, is having another career year. He’s proving critics wrong who thought that last season’s success was his peak. With the Reds in rebuilding mode, the question remains whether they should try to deal him to look towards the future. Gennett does offer some value in trade negotiations. Along with his offensive production this year, he is signed through the 2019 season. Those two factors make him very attractive for a trade. But would it be the best move for the Reds? There’s a couple of ways to look at it.

The Reds are once again at the bottom of the NL Central standings. Lackluster pitching performances continue to be their main struggle. If Cincinnati were to trade Gennett, they would most likely look for a starting pitcher that is ready or nearly ready for the show. Someone that has shut down opposing teams throughout their minor league career. With starting pitchers being a high demand in baseball, getting a pitcher with elite potential won’t be easy. Multiple sources have suggested that Gennett would bring a solid mid-tier pitching prospect in return. So the Reds would have to make the determination if a solid starter would benefit the team more than Gennett’s production. In my opinion, it won’t.

There’s also the factor of the young talent in the farm system that will be coming up very soon. Nick Senzel has been tearing it up at every level in the minors and is ready to make the MLB jump. Senzel was drafted as a third baseman and started at that position in his first two minor league seasons.  Starting this year, the former second overall pick has played the majority of the season at second base. That’s a very good sign in the direction that they were planning on going with Gennett. However, Senzel started at shortstop Saturday in Louisville. It was his first start at short besides spring training. Barry Larkin worked with the Reds’ top prospect at the position during the spring which could shed some light if they’ll move their top prospect again this season.

Considering that Senzel never played shortstop in Louisville until yesterday, could it be that the Reds are considering keeping Gennett around longer? In reality, they definitely should. Gennett is batting .336/.371/.539 this season with 12 home runs and is eighth in the MLB with 49 RBIs. He’s been a catalyst for the Reds on offense and could be for several more years. Gennett credits his recent success to changing his swing mechanics before the 2017 season. As he masters his new swing, things are looking up for the 28-year-old. Another thing to consider with Scooter is how well he loves Cincinnati. He’s due to have a pretty good payday coming in free agency after next year, but the hometown kid may give the Reds a discount to stay in Cincinnati. Along with that, Gennett has emerged as a fan favorite. Combine those two positives with his offense and he’s been one of the reasons that fans are still heading to the ballpark.

If the Reds decide to give Scooter Gennett an extension, Cincinnati could have one of the most dangerous infields in baseball next season. Maybe even this season if Senzel takes off when called up. That is if playing shortstop works out and the Reds decide to keep him there. Eugenio Suarez is in the top-five in RBIs in MLB despite missing fifteen games this season. Joey Votto is going to be typical Joey Votto. He’s going to flirt with 30 home runs, hit above .300, and get on base a lot. Gennett’s stats have him on his way to his first all-star game. Senzel has been a career .313 hitter in the minors and Tucker Barnhart is a good hitter for a catcher.

Jose Peraza is improving upon last year’s disappointing season at the plate this year and could make it a little difficult replacing him at shortstop. However, the Reds do have another option with the 24-year-old. Peraza could be an option to play centerfield if Billy Hamilton becomes a free agent and it’s unlikely that the Reds will re-sign him. So that could put Peraza in the outfield when Senzel comes up. Even though he’s only played in the outfield for 25 games since 2016 with the Reds, Peraza’s defensive numbers compare very well with those of Hamilton. This could open up a slot in the infield which makes the case of extending Scooter Gennett more sensible.

I once thought Gennett would be and should be traded before the trade deadline, but I’m more on the side of keeping him long-term now. He’s a run producer and puts Cincinnati in a position to score better than anyone else on the team this year. The Reds may be better off in trading a package deal of prospects for solid starting pitcher rather than trading Gennett for one. If the Reds keep Scooter around, Shed Long could be a guy at the top of that prospect package.

The downside to signing Gennett to a big deal is just that. The Reds would have to fork over some cash. Believe it or not, Cincinnati isn’t that far away from contending. They have three young pitchers with a lot of potential in Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, and Sal Romano. Add in a solid closer like Raisel Iglesias and Amir Garrett who’s been great out of the bullpen and there’s a lot to look forward to. If Anthony Desclafani can stay healthy, the Reds may just need to sign one solid pitcher after the season to contend. Three NL Central teams are in the top-half of the MLB in pitching which means the Reds need to be strong on offense. So keeping a good hitter around like Scooter Gennett may not be a bad idea.