How Candelario will impact Reds' infield

December 13th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Mark Sheldon’s Reds Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CINCINNATI -- Since news broke last week that the Reds were adding another infielder in , there have been many people wondering why they wanted him when the club was already overloaded with infielders and not enough spots. 

Candelario, who formally signed a three-year, $45 million contract on Monday, was introduced to Cincinnati on Tuesday.

At the news conference, Reds president of baseball operations Nick Krall confirmed that Candelario's addition would make infielder Spencer Steer a full-time outfielder. That checked off the team's offseason need for a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder.

“As of right now, Steer is probably going to play mostly out there," Krall said.

That's not all. Krall also noted that another infielder will get a look in the outfield.

"One of the things we’re doing is lengthening Jonathan India’s stride out. He’s going to get a chance to play some outfield during Spring Training and see where that goes for us as well," Krall said.

India, the Reds' second baseman since 2021, was already expected to get looks at first base and be used at designated hitter. 

The rest of the Cincinnati infielders are Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Noelvi Marte. All have fewer than one season of big league service time. That group's youth and inexperience is one reason the Reds wanted to sign the 30-year-old Candelario. 

Another was that the team's offensive depth had been tested before and Krall didn't want the Reds to be shorthanded. He pointed to the 2021 stretch-run collapse, when Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker and Tyler Naquin went down with injuries as the team's offense plummeted.

This past season, India, McLain, Jake Fraley, Joey Votto and waiver claim Harrison Bader were among those out with injuries in the second half.

“If you look at our infield, Christian missed the first part of the year in Triple-A with an injury," Krall said. "Elly missed the first part of the year. India got hurt. McLain missed the last part of the year and Marte is hurt right now. He got hurt in the Dominican [with a hamstring injury].

“You do use all of your players. Getting more impact in your lineup is going to be helpful for us to win games.”

There will likely be some sort of rotation utilized by manager David Bell to give all of the infielders playing time.

“You’re going to give guys days off across the board," Krall said. "You’re going to have a DH spot. You’re going to have matchups. I think there’s a lot of playing time to go around.”

Between Candelario, reliever Emilio Pagán and starting pitcher candidate Nick Martinez, the Reds have committed $87 million to their free agent additions. While the offense appears to be set, Cincinnati is still looking to bolster the rotation with another starting pitcher.

“We’ve got a little room to add so we’re looking at all of the markets," Krall said. "As of right now, we just haven’t found something that clicks for us.”