When the Cincinnati Reds picked up Freddy Galvis it was a move that I thought made plenty of sense. But I also wrote plenty of words about what I didn’t want to see happen once he arrived and put on a Reds jersey. Immediately, when asked about it, David Bell proclaimed that my fears were about to come true.
I anticipate he’s going to get a lot of playing time, I told him I wanted to stop short of saying every day. I think with a bit of a rotation of four or five guys — one of them not playing each day — they can all basically be everyday players and we can still get some guys rest here and there and find their best days to play.
“He’s going to play a lot at second base. He’s played more short and he’ll probably focus his work more at second because he hasn’t played there as much.
There’s a whole heck of a lot to unfold here, but let’s start with Freddy Galvis himself. Why is he moving to another position in favor of Jose Iglesias? If Iglesias were locked up long term, maybe this makes sense on a basis of just considering the two of them. But Jose Iglesias is not under contract for the Cincinnati Reds in 2020. Freddy Galvis, if the Reds want to keep him around rather than release him, is. For as nice as a .292 average is, Jose Iglesias has an OPS+ of 89, which means he’s 11% worse than the league average hitter. Galvis is also below-average, but his OPS+ is 95. Less average, less on-base, way more power. Both have some warts and strengths. Given that Galvis is a Red next year, though, it might make more sense to have him getting more time at shortstop.
But while that situation can be debated, the rest of the situation simply can’t. Freddy Galvis playing second base means that Josh VanMeter isn’t playing second base. And while David Bell said it won’t be every day, he said “get a lot of playing time”. Even if that’s 4 days a week, that means that Josh VanMeter isn’t playing there 4 days a week. Here’s a reminder of what Josh VanMeter has been doing for the last 13 months, in case you missed it:
He has obliterated Triple-A. He’s been well above-average in the Major Leagues all season (.849 OPS, 117 OPS+). But that includes his time when he was used sparingly as a pinch hitter earlier this year. Since his last call up where he’s played most days, his OPS is over 1.000. He’s killed left-handed pitching this year. He’s beat up on right-handed pitching pretty well, too. In short: Josh VanMeter has killed the baseball for 13 months in a row between Triple-A and the Major Leagues.
With that background information out of the way, let’s try to make sense here. Josh VanMeter, a 24-year-old who has killed the ball, is losing playing time so Jose Iglesias and Freddy Galvis can get more playing time? Guys in their late 20’s with career OPS’s under .700 are taking away at-bats from a 24-year-old who’s crushed the baseball.
But it gets worse. If Galvis is getting time at second, and VanMeter is going to get some time in the outfield, that means that Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, or Phillip Ervin are also going to lose at-bats because of Freddy Galvis and Jose Iglesias needing to play.
Jesse Winker has a 109 OPS+ this season. But after the first 9 games of the year he’s hitting .283/.368/.505. So, for the last four months, Winker’s been raking. I don’t think I need to tell you what Aristides Aquino’s been doing, right? How about Phillip Ervin? All he’s done this season is hit .355/.415/.589 in 118 trips to the plate. And then there’s Nick Senzel, who is realistically the teams only actual center fielder on the roster. He’s hitting .273/.328/.448 on the year. When he’s sitting it means you’ve got someone in center field who should not be out there. If he needs a day of rest, that makes sense. If you’re doing it so Freddy Galvis, Jose Iglesias, or Jose Peraza need to play, well, you’re confused.
I thought about typing all of this article with the caps lock key on because I’m #madonline. It’s just tough to wrap my head around the idea that the Reds are going to take away at-bats from young guys in favor of journeymen middle infielders. That’s not to say I don’t want Freddy Galvis on the team. He makes Cincinnati better. But his role should be limited, almost entirely, to playing shortstop. His role should not be taking away at-bats directly or indirectly from Josh VanMeter, Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, or Phillip Ervin. There simply isn’t much rationale to make that one work.