Cincinnati Reds are still looking to end their sub-.500 streak. After much hope, and some curious offseason moves, the 2019 campaign was like many others. Their winning percentage started with a four, though it was their best record since 2014. They were a long way off the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and St Louis Cardinals.
Jon Heyman recently reported that the Reds have interested in Didi Gregorius, and so they should. Gregorius was drafted by Cincinnati back in 2007 before being flipped to the Arizona Diamondbacks. A popular figure in New York, Gregorius comes without clubhouse question marks, and could bring joy to the downtrodden Reds as they look to elbow their way between the leading triumvirate in the National League Central.
Gregorius was a beneficiary of Yankee Stadium’s hitter-friendly dimensions. Home run charts show that at other parks his numbers would be drastically different, that might not be the case at the home run happy Great American Ball Park. Cincy’s home regularly ranks in the top 10 most hitter favouring parks in MLB.
The concern as Gregorius hits free agency is that his breakout 2018 campaign was a fluke. Coming back from surgery midway through 2019, Gregorius posted an 87 OPS+ in 82 games (not exactly a tiny sample). Compare that to his 124 OPS+ in 2018 and alarm bells begin to ring – after all, he hovered just below league-average for most of his career prior to that hefty 2018.
Cincinnati will likely have a hard ceiling on what they’re willing to pay Gregorius as a result. There’s no issue with that, but the need is there – the Reds ranked 25th in baseball in wins above average at shortstop. There are other issues too (the production from second base was poor), but the shortstop market is thin. Cincinnati’s 2019 shortstop Jose Iglesias is the only halfway attractive option on the free agent market, and he doesn’t have the same offensive upside.
A couple of years at somewhere between $20 million and $25 million seems about market rate for Gregorius. If it ends up around that mark, the Reds should be jumping at the opportunity.