Acquired at the trade deadline from the San Francisco Giants on July 31, 2015 (along with right-handed pitcher Keury Mella) in a trade for pitcher Mike Leake, Louisville native and former Louisville Cardinal Adam Duvall spent most all of 2016 entrenched as the Reds everyday left fielder and clean-up hitter. Add to that an All Star selection, a respectable showing during the Home Run Derby, and a finalist for a Gold Glove, and by all accounts, Duvall’s first full major league season could be considered a success.
So far in 2017, Duvall has continued to grow and solidify his position not only in the field and in the line-up, but also within the organization. Already 28 years old, Duvall could certainly be considered to be within his prime. Some questions still to be answered include: Is he settling into a consistent 30+ homer threat? Will his OBP and SLG continue to rise?
Still two years away from arbitration (2019) and controllable through 2022, the current version of Duvall, both with the glove and the bat, is proving to be an asset to Bryan Price on a nightly basis. Off to a good start, his current projections are below:
The question then for Dick Williams becomes not what does a line-up with Duvall look like today, but depending on the timeline, does the next championship contending line-up include Duvall?
If the answer to the question of when does this team expect to contend is within the next couple of years, then perhaps holding onto a (then) 30 year old in his prime right handed power hitter makes sense. But…if the team is taking a more long-term approach and is thinking that the next window is realistically up to five years away, that (then) 33 year old right handed slugger could perhaps better be utilized as another current tradable asset for younger talent that could become a part of that longer timeline.
Right now, as I see it, is not really the right time to answer this question. Off to a respectable start in 2017 with a pitching staff still finding its way (and not to mention missing three-fifths of the projected rotation), this year’s Reds have continued to integrate recent acquisitions into the everyday line-up (see Peraza, Jose and Schebler, Scott). Minor league outfielders Jesse Winker and Phillip Ervin have both been brought up for a cup of coffee and to experience their first taste of the majors, but at this point neither have proven that they have mastered their craft at Louisville. Aside from Louisville, let us also not forget the talent further down the system in the way of Taylor Trammell, T.J. Friedl, and Aristides Aquino among others. Perhaps as we move into the summer a more defined outlook for the future composition of the outfield will become apparent, but for right now, the alignment of Duvall, Billy Hamilton, and Schebler seems safe.
Looking ahead into this summer and into next off season, it’s not hard to imagine Williams asking himself the same “are they core pieces or tradable assets?” question about Hamilton, Schebler, third baseman Eugenio Suarez, and even some members of the current pitching staff. Are the pieces we have now likely to develop into a team capable of competing for a championship? What current players on the 40 man roster are desirable to other teams so that we may better strengthen any organizational weaknesses?
At this point, and to paraphrase Marty, “these things tend to have a way of working themselves out.”
Until then, let’s continue to enjoy this season for what it is and for what it still might become (you have to love May optimism). For all we know, the foundation for the core of the next contending Reds team may already be in place.