After trying Eugenio Suarez at shortstop during Spring Training, the Reds seem to be moving forward with Suarez as their top choice at the position during the regular season. “It’s looking like he’s going to end up being the everyday shortstop,” Reds general manager Nick Krall told reporters (including Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer). “He has played well, he has moved really well at short. He’s made all the plays in the field. He’s done everything you need him to do.”
Suarez is no stranger to the position, having played 183 games as a shortstop during his seven Major League seasons. However, only seven of those appearances have come since the start of the 2016 season, as Suarez settled in as the Reds’ everyday third baseman in large part because of his defensive struggles as a shortstop — Suarez posted a – 9.1 UZR/150 and -14 Defensive Runs Saved over 1463 2/3 innings as a shortstop in 2014-15.
Though Suarez has lost 15 pounds over the winter, it remains to be seen just how effective he’ll be with the glove at his new/old position, and it’s probably safe to assume the Reds are prepared to accept some level of defensive shortcomings in the hope of improving the infield as a whole. With Suarez at third base, Cincinnati would have deployed Mike Moustakas at second base and then one of Kyle Farmer, Kyle Holder, Max Schrock, or Mike Freeman as shortstop, but the plan is now to use Moustakas at his old third base position and former fifth-overall pick Jonathan India might break into the big leagues as a second baseman.
No decisions have been formally made for the Reds prior to Opening Day, as the team is still waiting on a pair of notable health situations within its position-player mix. Joey Votto is still recovering from COVID-19 and might need an IL stint to give him more time to fully ramp up, while Nick Senzel has missed the last two Spring Training games due to a mild groin strain. Krall said Senzel is day-to-day with the injury.
The rotation has also been hit by the injury bug, as Sonny Gray and Michael Lorenzen will begin the season on the injured list. Pitching coach Derek Johnson told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale and other reporters that after Opening Day starter Luis Castillo, the Reds’ rotation will feature Tyler Mahle, Wade Miley, Jose De Leon, and Jeff Hoffman in a to-be-determined order (though Mahle will likely be the No. 2 starter). The Reds are optimistic that neither Gray or Lorenzen will miss much time, and despite the presence of De Leon and Hoffman as extra starters, Johnson said the club isn’t planning to eventually adopt a six-man rotation.