The Reds still don’t have a clear answer at shortstop, but it doesn’t appear as though moving Nick Senzel back to the infield is a consideration. Manager David Bell today told reporters that Senzel is seen as the primary center fielder in Cincinnati, adding that if the club ever considered putting him back in the infield, “…we’d be missing a lot in the outfield” (Twitter link via Mark Sheldon of MLB.com).
On paper at least, there’s reason to consider such a shift sensible. The Reds have a crowded outfield mix with Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos also in the mix for at-bats. Winker and Castellanos are strictly corner outfielders, but Akiyama has a long track record in center field in Japan and, ostensibly, could be viewed as a candidate for regular work in center. That’s not in the plans at this time, it seems, so they’ll look to a mix of Kyle Farmer, Kyle Holder, Jose Garcia and non-roster veteran Dee Strange-Gordon as options at shortstop. It’s a mix that could clearly use an upgrade, but at this time there’s no indication the team is aggressively pursuing alternatives.
More from the division…
- Pirates outfielder Anthony Alford is still limited on defense following last year’s fractured right elbow, director of sports medicine Todd Tomcyzk told reporters (link via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Mike Persak). While Alford will likely be in early spring games as a designated hitter, he’s still facing some “challenges” with regard to throwing. While the Bucs will likely give Bryan Reynolds at least some time in center this season, manager Derek Shelton implied Wednesday that the current battle is more one between Alford and non-roster veteran Brian Goodwin. That was before the club’s acquisition of Dustin Fowler from the Athletics, however, so it’s likely that the newly acquired former top prospect is now in the mix as well. That seems to leave Reynolds as the primary left fielder and Gregory Polanco looking for a bounceback in right field. Both Fowler and Alford are out of minor league options, so they’ll need to make the Opening Day roster (or be placed on the Major League injured list) to avoid being designated for assignment again.
- There’s still no indication that the National League will be able to deploy a designated hitter in 2021, but Brewers skipper Craig Counsell is still rooting for a late agreement to change that, writes MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Though Counsell has previously been against the NL DH, the manager noted that for the Brewers roster, as currently constructed, it would be beneficial. That’s largely because of the presence of Daniel Vogelbach, who mashed in 67 plate appearances as a Brewer late in the 2020 season but was pushed off a potential regular role at first base when Milwaukee signed Kolten Wong, thus sliding Keston Hiura over to first base. As McCalvy notes, if there’s no late agreement on a designated hitter, it’s possible the Brewers could cut Vogelbach loose. He agreed to a $1.4MM to avoid arbitration over the winter, but the Brewers would only owe him 30 days’ salary ($226K) if he’s cut in the first half of Spring Training or 45 days ($339K) if he’s cut in the second half of camp. If Vogelbach makes the Opening Day roster, that entire $1.4MM salary would be locked in.