Joey Votto played 169 games at AA and AAA in the minor leagues. The Reds were patient with Votto, and it paid off for them. Votto recently said in an interview that at the time he was upset with the Reds for waiting so long to call him up, but that it helped him develop a mentality that he would never get sent back down.
Nick Senzel has played 79 games at AA and AAA. He has been hot over the last few weeks, but still only has an .809 OPS so far in 2018 at Louisville. The popular opinion here at RN is that the Reds are being ridiculous for not calling up Senzel yet. There is certainly a case to be made for having him on the big league club, but there is also a case for keeping him down.
There are two major benefits to not calling Senzel up. The first is because if the Reds wait a few more weeks, they will potentially save millions of dollars in arbitration. Some may view that as a cheap move to save dollars, but baseball is a business. The more the Reds save here and there, the more that will be available for other contracts. The second is service time. Senzel is past the point where calling him up would give cost the Reds a free agent year, but when he left a game last week dizziness, it was a swift reminder that a long DL stint while on the big league is wasted service time. You obviously can not control potential injuries from wasted service time, but it can be important to wait until a player is 100% ready so you can to avoid that risk as long as possible.
The Reds have received some criticism for not being aggressive like the Braves with their young players. There is a major difference though: the Braves are 19-14 and in first place, whereas the Reds are 8-27. The Reds have the luxury of being patient. If the Reds were 19-14, there is no doubt Senzel would be in the majors, and this would be an entirely different situation.
The other issue is this: the Reds still haven’t figured out where Senzel will play. Peraza is hitting .293/.314/.398 and has an .827 OPS over the last 15 days. You can’t bench him. Scooter Gennett has an .828 OPS over the last 15 days, and is coming off a season where he had an .930 OPS vs RHP (22nd best in the entire MLB). Gennett is an everyday player vs RHP, and you can’t platoon Senzel. If you bench Gennett he would lose trade value, although there is significant value in keeping him if you expect to compete in 2019. The Reds need to figure out where Senzel’s spot will be. That could sort itself out with a poor performance or an injury.
It is frustrating to watch a team be as bad as the Reds have been for the past four seasons reach a new low this season. If the Reds would call up Senzel it would certainly infuse much needed energy among the fan-base. But there is more value in keeping him down for at least a few more weeks. What is the downside in 40-50 more games in the minors? Patience my friends.
Nick is a lifelong Reds fan who was born and raised in Cincinnati. He acquired his love of baseball from his late grandfather. Nick moved to the Cleveland area in 2014 with his wife, and his currently fighting to convert his beautiful baby daughter Emma to Reds fandom. Nick has been writing for Redleg Nation since 2013. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicholaspkirby.