The Cincinnati Reds are one of those teams that they may take a 90 loss season but it may be one of the more fun 90-loss teams around. The reasoning is simple: the Reds can hit. They can’t pitch for anything, which is why Cincinnati is dead last in the NL Central and only 1/2 game up on Miami for dead last in the NL.
Of course, many (myself included) point to the fact the Reds play in a bandbox of a park at Great American Ballpark. And yes, they do have good hitters who can hit elsewhere (Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto notably), but it seems to be there is a spike with the Reds at home than when on the road. And one of those guys that has seemingly come out of nowhere has been Scooter Gennett.
Gennett was a Brewers prospect. He hit well for average down in the Minors for the Brewers farm teams, seemingly over or around the .300 mark, but he never had the power which somewhat handicapped him. However, when he got to the Brewers, the average was slightly under .300 but the power wasn’t there. In 2016, Gennett did have some pop, hitting 14 HR for the Brewers but his average dropped and in somewhat of a surprise move before the 2017 season, Gennett was put on waivers by Milwaukee and got picked up by the Reds. Since then, Gennett has found a power stroke, belting 27 HR last season and has 12 so far this season while having a high batting average on top of it. To an extent, Gennett reminds me of a JD Martinez where things just picked up after he left one team to join another.
So why would the Reds trade Gennett at this point? First off, he is 28 years old, so it isn’t like Cincinnati has a young gun at this point in his career. He is arbitration eligible after this season and if his numbers continue, the small-market Reds will have a tough time affording him, Votto, and Suarez all at once. And at this point, getting value in return for Gennett is at a premium which means probably some good quality arms coming back. With that in mind, who could use Scooter Gennett on their team come August/September?
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: It would help on a couple of instances. It can take out Ketel Marte, who has been an albatross at the plate and then put Daniel Descalso to replace Chris Owings who is just a mess as well. Of course, the Reds would want a return and Arizona doesn’t have much in the farm as is and with Gennett not being a free agent for another year, it will take more than some magic beans to give Cincinnati like they did to Detroit for JD Martinez last year. But he would really give a jolt to a Diamondbacks lineup that needs a jolt especially since Paul Goldschmidt has been off to a cold start in 2018.
BOSTON RED SOX: Before Red Sox fans rip me a new one, let’s face facts: Dustin Pedroia is going to be 35 years old in August, oft injured, and while he hits for average he doesn’t have the same power as Gennett. And yes, I get he’s the team leader, etc. but at this point it doesn’t matter a whole lot if he can’t be on the field much. It is something to really ponder. I doubt Boston would consider it given Pedroia’s loyalty to the team and how he is accepted in Beantown but just remember, the Red Sox sent out Nomar at the deadline in 2004 and that ended okay. I’m not saying the Red Sox should trade Pedroia but they could use a little more pop and Eduardo Nunez won’t give them that. And given Dave Dombrowski’s track record, he can find a way to make a trade, even if Boston’s farm has been on the down for the last year or two.
CLEVELAND INDIANS: It’s hard to think that A. we are saying the Indians are still having to shake off the Detroit Tigers in the division in June (never dreamed of posting that this year) and B. That Jason Kipnis is a major liability to the Tribe right now. After being regarded as one of the best second basemen in the Majors just 2 years ago, Kipnis was injured for most of the season last year and has underperformed greatly in 2018. A position change for him may also be needed as well. The Indians offense has been middle-of-the-road, but compared to the likes of the Red Sox, Yankees, and Astros, are well below them. But the problem with the Indians is that there are more liabilities than Kipnis. The outfield has been awful save for Michael Brantley, the bullpen has been a giant mess, and at this point a 5th starter may be needed as well. Cleveland has the farm to make a move, but maybe it is needed for other things besides Gennett.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS: Ian Kinsler, an upcoming free agent, has underperformed with the Angels since coming from Detroit. And the Angels are also cooling off fast as they have really become the three-man show of Trout, Simmons, and Ohtani. They need another bat to really help out that group. The only problem is that the Angels invested in Gennett’s fellow teammate Zack Cozart in Cincinnati and he has proceeded to underachieve as well. So there may be a lingering fear at least with the Angels that Gennett maybe another Cozart as Angel Stadium is probably the antithesis of Great American Ballpark. Also, if the Reds are looking for prospects, notably in the pitching category, the Angels may not be the best of fits.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: You have to hand it to Los Angeles for fighting, scratching, and clawing their way back in the division with all the major injuries suffered from Kershaw to Seager to Turner, etc. But they’re still nowhere near the same team as they were last year. And the offense is a middle of the road offense while second base is a major hole with Chase Utley (when healthy) and Logan Forsythe not even hitting over .220 and a total of 2 HR. Gennett would be an immediate upgrade to that spot, and the Dodgers have what the Reds are asking for. But I think Los Angeles would prefer to make a splash in trying to make a push for somebody like Machado or maybe trying to get Cole Hamels to solidify the rotation.
SEATTLE MARINERS: This would be an interesting scenario for Seattle. The Mariners have Robinson Cano on the suspended list AND cannot play in the postseason for Seattle. And right now the Mariners may be baseball’s best surprise in 2018 despite Cano’s suspension, Cruz’s struggles, Felix’s massive struggles, etc. and in a way it is surprising to see how they are doing this as nobody is having a major career year. Law of averages may pan things out a bit, but Seattle has the longest playoff drought of any team in the Majors (2001) and the fans there are desperately starving to see some October baseball if the Seahawks aren’t in the mix in the NFL. Getting Gennett would be a jolt for the offense and show the fans and the players that they are serious in making a run to October. But again, could the Mariners have enough of what the Reds want?
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: It is time for the Kolten Wong experiment to end. The Cardinals had high hopes on him but to me he is just that “he’s there” kind of guy as in “well there’s nobody else we can put in, so he is there.” The Cardinals have tailed off a little bit to the point where the Cubs have jumped them and the Brewers have no sign of slowing down. A key part of it is the offense is in the bottom half of the NL in most categories. St. Louis is not known for being a hitter’s park, but I think Gennett can handle it well (though the numbers at Busch doesn’t say much for him to this point). The Cardinals are linked to Josh Donaldson, but as a friend of mine said last night, Donaldson’s value this year has plummeted badly with the injuries and the struggles. The Cardinals may find it cheaper to get Gennett, who wouldn’t be a rental as opposed to Donaldson who is going to be a rental.
MY TAKE: I’m actually 50/50 on this that the Reds would trade Gennett this year. I still think if the pitching solves itself next year, Cincinnati could be a surprise in 2019 and he stays. But if he gets traded, I actually say the Mariners would win the Scooter sweepstakes. With Nelson Cruz coming off the books, Cano could move to DH in 2019 while Gennett would take over at second. Remember, Cano will be 36 next year. The Diamondbacks and Cardinals would also be heavily in I believe, though I don’t know if Arizona would have what Cincinnati wants and I don’t know if St. Louis would give what Cincinnati wants, especially within the division.