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Cincinnati Reds: Early Winter Meeting Questions

The winter meetings are upon us, and the Reds are supposed to be one of the more active teams at this time. With having a new head coach and a team that has claimed they are ready to make moves, new manager David Bell was one of the more popular managers at the meetings.

Adding pitching has obviously been the main focus of the offseason, something the Reds have failed to do so far. To be fair, they did claim relief pitcher Robby Scott off of the waivers from the Boston Red Sox, but that is seen as adding depth, rather than adding a player they expect to truly contribute.

Current Roster Questions

Outside of acquiring pitchers, a topic that will be discussed when it seems as if the Reds might actually compete for one, there are still many topics to be covered. Bell addressed every question with no hesitation and was not shy to reveal his ideas for the upcoming season.

Four questions were quite intriguing for Bell. Will Nick Senzel play, will Scooter Gennett stay in Cincinnati, will Homer Bailey start and could Michael Lorenzen potentially be a two-way player?

To address the first question, Bell made it clear Senzel is in the plans for 2019. The Reds’ top prospect has long been the discussion of Reds writers and fans. He is widely regarded as the best bat in the minor leagues. He was without a doubt the best and most major league ready bat when he was taken second overall by the Reds in the 2016 NFL Draft. Senzel is just 23-years old and needs to be in the lineup now if the Reds hope to win. The problem with Senzel is where to play him.

Can Senzel Play Center?

Cincinnati has experimented with the idea of starting Senzel in center field after releasing veteran Billy Hamilton, however, they are not sure if that is the direction they want the infielder to go. Learning a new position while making the transition from the minors to the majors makes the move much more difficult.

With the Reds unsure about the Senzel situation, it brings into question what to do with All-Star infielder Gennett. It has been long rumored that the Cincinnati native was subject to trade, but the Reds seemed invested in the 28-year old. During the winter meetings, trade talks for Gennett were ramped up yet again, but not by anyone actually in the Reds’ camp. Monday they reiterated that they were not actively shopping Gennett.

(Photo Courtesy: Reds Minor Leagues)

Not trading Gennett may seem like a bad move with Senzel waiting to get big league playing time. It is not necessarily a good or bad move from the team. If Senzel can learn how to play center field, or even a corner spot with Scott Schebler moving to center, they have an elite offense. Injuries occur every year in every sport and if one of their offensive infield juggernauts in Gennett, Eugenio Suarez or even Joey Votto went down, that would open up a spot for Senzel.

The problem is the Reds cannot wait on an injury to get Senzel the time he needs. There have been several big moves made already this offseason, but when it comes to whether or not the Reds should keep Gennett, they have time to see how Senzel progresses in center field.

The Lorenzen Issue

Bell was recently asked if he would consider using former Cal State Fullerton star in the outfield this season. Lorenzen did make an appearance in right field in 2018, along with four home runs while mostly used as a reliever who made three starts. Bell noted that Lorenzen’s bat is valuable, because he is not like most pitchers due to his value at the plate.

Lorenzen is one of the most versatile players in the league, which makes yet another difficult decision for a first-year manager. Should he pitch from the pen? Could he be a starter? Can he possibly make an appearance in the outfield? It is tough to say which direction they should lean with Lorenzen.

The decision is even harder when considering Homer Bailey still demands over $20 million dollars and is not exactly thrilled with the idea of pitching out of the pen. Bailey was an unbelievably awful 1-14 record with a 6.09 earned run average in 20 starts.

Bailey’s relationship with the Reds has soured in recent years due to injuries and poor performance. In no way is Lorenzen exactly the right answer, but one thing is for sure, Bailey should not be starting next year.

What to Expect the Rest of the Week

Bell and general manager Nick Krall have plenty of work cut out for them this season. The team is still yet to make a splash in free agency. With the winter meetings just beginning, hopefully Cincinnati will turn some heads this upcoming week.

The goal, as has been stated, is acquiring pitching. With Patrick Corbin and James Paxton already in new uniforms, the eyes are now set on Dallas Keuchel. He will have a high price tag, but he is the best available option still on the market. The question now is whether to splurge on one pitcher, or look to sign two pitchers that will be a bit more affordable. Buckle up, Cincinnati Reds fans.

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