As they ramp back up following some holiday downtime, the Reds are still looking at external center field candidates, president of baseball operations Dick Williams tells Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. However, Williams expresses confidence that in-house options like Scott Schebler and Phil Ervin can handle center field if needed, and he also lists top prospect Nick Senzel as a possibility there. “If this is the group we go into camp with, I think we’d be open-minded there,” said Williams of his current outfield mix. “But between now and Spring Training, we’ll continue to look at ways to address that area.” Cincinnati already has Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Schebler, Ervin and Jesse Winker as options in the outfield.
Regarding Winker, who has posted a terrific .299/.397/.460 slash through his first 136 MLB games, Williams indicated that the Reds still view him as an everyday option or, at the very least, “a very consistent regular contributor.” Winker’s playing time could be cut into by the additions of veterans Kemp and Puig, though he’s coming off surgery in his non-throwing shoulder, so perhaps some additional rest would prove beneficial.
Here’s a bit more from the NL Central…
- The Brewers “like” free-agent second baseman Brian Dozier, writes Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic in his latest notes column (subscription required), though there’s no clear indication that the two sides have had any substantial talks to this point. Bringing Dozier into the fold would give Milwaukee a potential short-term bridge to prospects Keston Hiura and Mauricio Dubon while affording the longtime Twins slugger to rebuild some value in the wake of a poor 2018 season which was hindered by knee troubles. From 2014-17, Dozier hit .254/.338/.476 and averaged 32 homers per season, but he faceplanted with a .215/.305/.391 slash between Minnesota and Los Angeles last year.
- Rosenthal also writes that one executive from a rival club feels the Cardinals are becoming decreasingly likely to move Jose Martinez in a trade this winter. The late-blooming 30-year-old has hit .309/.372/.478 with 31 homers, 44 doubles and a triple through his first 915 MLB plate appearances since debuting in 2016, though his pronounced defensive shortcomings at first base and in the outfield have made him a potential trade candidate. That, of course, hardly precludes a trade, but it seems the Cards may be more keen on keeping Martinez as a bench bat now that they don’t need to rely on him for a full slate of games following the acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt. Martinez only has two years and 27 days of Major League service time, leaving him a year shy of arbitration eligibility and giving the Cardinals another four seasons of club control before he can become a free agent. Given that Martinez isn’t likely to earn much more than $600K in 2019, the Cardinals aren’t under any sort of pressure to move him unless they receive immediate MLB-ready help at a position of greater need.