Reds’ Infield Picture Crowded for 2024 Season
Young Players in Need of At-Bats Create Dilemma for Cincinnati
CINCINNATI – With the departure of first baseman Joey Votto, the Cincinnati Reds are facing a crowded infield picture for the upcoming 2024 season. The team has several young players who are in need of playing time and opportunities to develop their skills.
One potential solution is to move Jonathan India, which would allow the Reds to utilize Tyler McLain at second base and give Jose De La Cruz the chance to play shortstop regularly. However, this move would mean losing a clubhouse leader and a more experienced player.
President of baseball operations, Nick Krall, has been open to reasonable offers for any player in previous offseasons. However, it seems that Krall is not particularly interested in trading away infield depth, including India, to address other areas of need.
“I think we could, but I don’t think there’s a reason to do it at this point,” Krall stated. “You have injuries. I want to make sure we have enough quality depth to withstand some of that stuff. That’s going to help our club at the end of the day.”
The decision to part ways with Votto by not picking up his $20 million club option on November 5th was influenced by the young infielders’ need for playing time. Another crucial decision awaits the Reds this week as they must determine whether to offer arbitration-eligible Nick Senzel a contract. If they choose not to, Senzel will become a free agent.
Adding to the mix is Jose Barrero, who struggled with hitting during the 2023 season, playing 46 games before being sent to Triple-A Louisville. Barrero is now out of Minor League options going into the upcoming spring.
Agent Scott Boras, who represents India, De La Cruz, McLain, and Senzel, praised the Reds’ infield talent. “Most teams don’t have two players of that caliber on the infield, let alone four or five. Cincinnati is lucky to have such talented players,” Boras said.
Krall emphasized last month that all of Cincinnati’s young infielders would have to earn their spots on the 2024 roster during Spring Training. This includes De La Cruz, who struggled in the second half of the previous season after an impressive start following his promotion to the big leagues on June 6th.
While the decision ultimately lies with the team, Boras does not anticipate switch-hitting De La Cruz starting the 2024 season in the Minor Leagues. Boras highlighted the challenges faced by De La Cruz, who had limited at-bats in the Minor Leagues before playing in the Majors.
“Yes, I would be very surprised,” Boras expressed. “He had 250 at-bats in the Minor Leagues right-handed, and now you’re playing in the Major Leagues – wow. For those of us who played Minor League ball, we understand the number of at-bats needed in Double-A. We asked a lot of him.”
Boras added that De La Cruz is focused on building strength and endurance to handle a full 162-game schedule. He is also working on improving his technique for right-handed at-bats.
As the Reds prepare for the 2024 season, the crowded infield situation presents both challenges and opportunities for the team’s young players. The decisions made by the organization will shape the future of the team and determine the path to success.