Senzel, 28, was a highly-touted prospect early in his career, having been selected second overall by the Reds in the 2016 draft. By the time he made his major league debut back in 2019, Senzel was a consensus top-10 prospect in all of baseball. Unfortunately for both Senzel and the Reds, his career hasn’t lived up to that promise to this point. Senzel’s rookie campaign went fairly well, as the then-24-year-old adjusted to become the everyday center fielder in Cincinnati after spending his entire professional career to that point on the infield dirt. Senzel posted a decent .256/.315/.427 slash line in 414 trips to the plate that year, and entered the 2020 season with plenty of reason for optimism that better days would be ahead.
Unfortunately, Senzel struggled to stay healthy over the next two seasons, appearing in just 59 total games between the 2020 and 2021 campaigns. To make matters worse, Senzel posted brutal numbers at the plate when he was healthy enough to take the field, slashing a combined .227/.294/.332 in 202 trips to the plate. While Senzel was healthy enough to return to semi-regular playing time in 2022, his bat didn’t improve, as he posted a similar slash line of .231/.296/.306 across 110 games that season. Senzel’s offense improved slightly in 2023, as he slashed .236/.297/.399 with 13 home runs in 330 plate appearances while splitting time between second base, third base, and all three outfield spots.
That said, Senzel’s performance did not convince the Reds to tender him a contract worth a projected $3MM this offseason (per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz). Given the excess of young, controllable position player talent in Cincinnati, the club’s decision to part ways with Senzel was hardly a surprising one. Still, Senzel’s positional versatility makes him an intriguing bench option for teams in need of additional depth around the diamond. That’s particularly true of teams that struggle offensively against southpaws, as Senzel owns a career 108 wRC+ against left-handed pitching.
That’s a description that fits the Nationals, who hit a below-average .266/.323/.415 against lefties last season. In particular, Senzel could be a potential platoon partner for Luis Garcia, who slashed just .261/.273/.395 against same-handed pitching last season as the club’s everyday second baseman. While Senzel only played second base briefly in 2023, he also provides the Nationals with another option at third base, where they currently figure to rely on Carter Kieboom, as well as at all three outfield spots. Given Senzel’s relative youth and previous prospect pedigree, it’s a reasonable gamble for the Nationals, on the heels of a 91-loss season that saw them finish dead last in the NL East, to see if they can unlock another gear to the versatile lefty-masher’s game.