Former Reds, Brewers and Giants second baseman Scooter Gennett remains unsigned, and the 2018 All-Star chatted with Doug Fernandes of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune this week about his decision not to accept an offer over the winter. Gennett details that he did receive some offers, but they were either non-guaranteed or not to his liking from a financial standpoint. The top offer he received was a $1.5MM guarantee with incentives, but he’d been targeting a deal in the $5MM range. That offer also came from a club with an everyday second baseman, it seems, so he’d likely have been viewed as a bench piece.
Many fans will bristle at Gennett’s candid comments on free agency and compensation, particularly given the current economic crisis that has been brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gennett, though, has earned more than $19MM in his career to date and has clearly set a personal valuation both on his abilities and the level of compensation he’d require to spend another season on the road and away from his wife and family, as any player would. “You’re 220 days away from your family,” says Gennett.
The 2019 season was a tough one for Gennett, who tore a muscle in his groin during Spring Training and now acknowledges that he came back before he was ready. That was his own decision, he emphasizes, and his results clearly suffered. After hitting a combined .303/.351/.508 with 50 home runs for the Reds in 2017-18, Gennett limped to a .226/.245/.323 slash in 139 plate appearances last year. The Reds traded him to the Giants just prior to the trade deadline, receiving only cash consideration in return. San Francisco released him less than a month later.
Over the winter, Gennett reportedly drew interest from as many as six teams, with the Cubs known to be one suitor. The Cubs, however, have avoided major free agent signings over the past two offseasons and were looking for more of a low-cost pickup. Not long after being linked to Gennett, they instead signed Jason Kipnis to the same type of minor league contract to which Gennett expresses aversion in his interview with Fernandes.
Gennett is still just 30, so there’s certainly time for him to stage a comeback if he chooses to play again. He’s still working out, but he’s also frank in telling Fernandes that he is “fine with not playing.” If salary is the sticking point, it’s hard to envision his earning power on his next contract being higher than it was over the winter. A club doesn’t seem likely to top that offer once play resumes, given the revenue losses throughout the league, and sitting out for a year would surely limit him to a minor league deal if he did decide he wanted to return to the game.