The Reds announced that third baseman Eugenio Suarez underwent surgery to remove loose cartilage from his right shoulder earlier today. The injury came about recently when Suarez was swimming, per the announcement. The team expects the 28-year-old Suarez to be ready to play in games “near the beginning of the regular season” but acknowledged that he’ll be “limited” early in Spring Training.
It’s an unwelcome development for the Reds, but the team has ample depth to withstand an absence from the slugging Suarez should he require some time on the injured list early in the year. Offseason signee Mike Moustakas, of course, has spent the majority of his career manning the hot corner, and highly touted youngster Nick Senzel has played third base more than any other position since being selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft.
Then again, Reds general manager Nick Krall tells reporters (Twitter link via The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans) that Senzel isn’t likely to slot in at third base if Suarez isn’t ready to go come Opening Day. That still leaves open the possibility of utilizing Moustakas at third base and Senzel at second base, although Senzel is working back from his own shoulder surgery. If he’s not ready to go or the team prefers an alternative alignment, Josh VanMeter could also get a look at second base with Moustakas at third.
Depth aside, the loss of Suarez for even a brief period of time would be a notable blow to the Reds, who are clearly intent on returning to the postseason after an aggressive offseason of additions. Suarez’s power numbers have exploded over the past two seasons, including a 2019 effort in which he improbably flirted with the elusive 50-homer threshold. Dating back to 2018, Suarez has raked at a .277/.362/.550 clip (135 OPS+), hitting 83 homers, 44 doubles and four triples along the way. Even with Moustakas, Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama joining the party in Cincinnati, Suarez was sure to be relied on as a vital middle-of-the-order threat.
Prior to that breakout, Suarez had already established himself as a quality option at the hot corner and at the plate, but the Reds have to be thrilled with the decision to negotiate a long-term extension just prior to Opening Day 2018 as opposed to the following offseason, as his price would have escalated considerably. As it is, the seven-year, $66MM deal to which Suarez agreed on March 16, 2018, looks like a coup for the Reds’ front office — even if it was one that carried some risk at the time of the signing. Suarez is set to earn $9.25MM in 2020 under the terms of that deal and will earn subsequent salaries of $10.5MM (2021) and $11MM (2022-24). The deal also contains a $15MM team option for the 2025 season, which comes with a $2MM buyout.