If you are on social media or listen to sports talk radio you’ve absolutely heard someone talk about moving Nick Senzel to shortstop this year to make room for other outfielders and get more bats in the lineup. Unless something drastically changes, that isn’t going to be happening any time soon.
First, there is the “what have they done” evidence. Two years ago Nick Senzel went into the offseason with the idea that he could play shortstop, and he spent the entire offseason working on the spot. When spring training began they gave it a look. And then the regular season began and he went to Triple-A Louisville. He started 43 games in the field that season before he was injured in June and missed the rest of the year. Of those 43 games he played for the Bats after spending all offseason and spring training trying shortstop, he played in one game at shortstop in Triple-A. The rest of the games came at second base and third base.
Their actions told you what they believed with regards to whether or not they believed he could handle the position. He didn’t play shortstop in the minor leagues. He played second base, where he had played in the past. And he played third base, where he had played in the past and was also a position blocked by Eugenio Suarez, who three weeks before the 2018 season began signed a seven year contract. Third base was blocked at the big league level, yet the Reds still played Senzel there in the minor leagues and didn’t play him at shortstop.
That didn’t stop the speculation again this offseason, though. At least not from fans. And we’ve even heard some analysts bring it up – though none who cover the Reds full time. With the Reds being renewed in their chase for yet another outfielder over the last few days as the Nicholas Castellanos rumors continue to swirl, and a signing leaving Cincinnati with a good problem of perhaps having too many good options int he outfield, the “move Nick Senzel to shortstop” crowd is back at it.
But according to Cincinnati Reds President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams, it’s not likely. And that was what he said less than two weeks ago. 700 WLW sports talk host Lance McAlister had Williams on his show and he brought up moving Nick Senzel to shortstop. Here is what Williams responded with:
I think Nick’s the kind of guy that like Shogo (Akiyama), like a lot of these other players we have, (Mike) Moustakas, they’ll do what the team asks of them. In the short term the reason you would be reluctant to ask Nick to consider a move to shortstop is the shoulder surgery that he had at the end of the year. The throw from shortstop is probably the most taxing on the field. We would have to see him healthy and get comfortable with his arm action. I don’t have any reason, I don’t want to raise alarm bells, we think it was a fairly minor surgery that went cleanly and we expect him to be back on opening day. But we don’t want to be in a position of trying to rush him and we certainly don’t want to be in a position where we’re putting all of our eggs in the basket where he’s at the most important position on the field that he hasn’t played in a while, while he’s coming off of surgery.
While that certainly should be enough, I can add that I have also talked with people who work in baseball – both for the Reds and for other organizations – who saw Senzel at shortstop in the spring of 2018, and when asked about what they thought, none of them thought he was able to make it work. The sample size of people I spoke with was only a few, but these people are compensated for their opinions on these matters and are trusted by their organizations to be correct on these matters.
Now, is it possible that all of this could change between today and March 26th when the Cincinnati Reds host the St. Louis Cardinals? Yes, it could. But no evidence at all suggests that it will. While there’s a ton of evidence that suggests that it won’t. Every ounce of the speculation is based on “it would be nice if he could”. And it would be nice if he could. That would potentially solve a rather big problem for the Reds. But there’s nothing there to actually suggest it can happen, or will even be attempted in the near future. Expect Nick Senzel to be starting in center field for the Reds. And expect it a lot.