Rumors have swirled all winter regarding the Indians and Francisco Lindor, and the Reds have reportedly checked in, but is Lindor who they should aim for?
This offseason has given Reds fans reasons to get excited about the 2020 season. Owner Bob Castellini has opened up his pocketbook and brought in Mike Moustakas, Wade Miley and Shogo Akiyama among a flurry of other moves.
The front office has addressed spots on the roster where there were question marks by slotting Moose at second base, sliding Miley into the rotation and reuniting him with a former pitching coach, and added Akiyama to an outfield that could utilize platooning and matchups to gain the upper hand.
They also have added plenty of depth, mostly to the outfield. Travis Jankowski and Mark Payton are two other out-of-house options Cincinnati has added this offseason. In-house options? Phillip Ervin, Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, Aristedes Aquino and Josh VanMeter. Remember Scott Schebler? He is still on the 40-man roster.
Even with all of those players, one position that still has a big question mark surrounding it is shortstop. Reds fans are not sure if Freddy Galvis is the surest option for the job, and hearing that the team has checked in on the shortstop from the other MLB team in the state excites them.
Lindor brings a plethora of skills and accolades to any team from being a switch-hitter and two-time Gold Glove winner to a lifetime .288 hitter with two Silver Sluggers.
The 26-year-old Lindor had a 4.7 bWAR in 2019, which is more than Jose Iglesias and Freddy Galvis had combined (3.1 bWAR). However, Lindor recorded his career-low on-base percentage at .335, still good enough for ninth-best among qualified shortstops.
While the Reds were raved for their pitching last season, their offense did not complement them enough to win more ball games. Sticking with on-base percentage, the team OBP was .315, so Lindor would help improve that. However, he would supply that at a high cost.
The Indians have reportedly asked for a steep return in any Lindor talks, and Nick Senzel’s name has come up quite frequently. It seems that he would not be the only young piece in the deal, as prospects Nick Lodolo and Jonathan India have had their names come up, too. Even Jesse Winker and Tyler Mahle are major-league pieces that could be involved.
But should Cincinnati be okay with giving up so much talent for just two years of Francisco Lindor at shortstop? There could be a more economical answer if they are looking for a two-year stopgap at short.
Trevor Story has seemingly flown under the radar even though his statistics are off the charts. His .294 batting average, 35 homers, and 85 RBI would be second to Eugenio Suarez on the team. Story is even a 20-20 player, having stolen 23 bags last season. Lindor was the only other 20-20 shortstop in all of the major leagues.
One downside to Story compared to Lindor is that he strikes out a lot more. Story struck out 76 more times than Lindor this past season. Yet, Story had a higher OBP than Lindor (.363) and a higher OPS (Story’s .917 to Lindor’s .854). He also will be due for free agency after the 2021 season.
There could be an argument that the Coors Field effect is in play, but could the Great Americal Ballpark effect produce similar results? Story would yield less in a trade from Colorado given that Arenado is the top player on their team.
If the Rockies are listening to calls on superstar third baseman in Nolan Arenado, why would they not be open to listening on Trevor Story? The Reds have players that could fit some of Colorado’s needs, from pitchers (Mahle, Santillan) to hitters (Senzel, Winker, India).
Trevor Story could be the economical move the Reds are looking to make. He would upgrade their situation at shortstop, cost less in a trade and he is already familiar with National League pitching.
Who knows what Story could learn in order to improve his on-base skills further from playing alongside guys like Joey Votto and Jesse Winker and being coached by the Reds coaching staff. Perhaps the Reds are doing their due diligence on the shortstop from the Colorado Rockies.