Inbox: What do the Reds plan to do in center?

Beat reporter Mark Sheldon answers questions from fans

January 12th, 2019

CINCINNATI -- Center field is a big question weighing on the minds of Reds fans, so without further ado here are some answers to fans' queries.
With the Reds needing a center fielder, can you see them going after either or ?
-- Dan D., Cincinnati

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Either guy might work as a shorter-term solution until the Reds are ready to try prospects like Taylor Trammell or . Span will be 35 this season and played mostly left field last season for Seattle and Tampa Bay. But he can get on base pretty regularly, and his declining speed wouldn't be a big liability on defense at Great American Ball Park.
Jones, 33, has seen his power production decline the last couple of seasons -- especially in 2018. His defensive metrics in center field are also lacking. But he could certainly benefit from hitting in GABP, and his sterling reputation as a fan favorite in Baltimore and as a good clubhouse guy would also be welcomed.
Many names have been mentioned for center field, how about ? Is he capable of [playing] that position?
-- George S., Owensboro, Ky.

I would say there is no chance of Winker playing center, since he lacks range -- even for the smaller ballpark. If he lacked in one area of his game as a corner outfielder, it would definitely be on defense. But it's also something I know he will be working on trying to improve.

Is there any sort of plan moving forward on ? Would he be agreeable to competing for a bullpen spot this spring?
-- @newtonrm on Twitter

I've asked around about Finnegan and the club has been non-committal about his role. He has experience as a reliever, and his starting experience would make him capable of working multiple innings and situations. I personally think his future would be better served out of the bullpen. As for whether he would be agreeable or not, he does not have the standing to disagree with whatever the club decides. That's especially true after his poor 2018 season that was mostly spent at Triple-A.
If it came down to it, which player would the Reds likely spend on: to solidify the rotation or A.J. Pollock to solidify the outfield?
-- Ken M., Sanford, N.C.

If faced with just those two options only in an either-or scenario, I'd say Keuchel. He can be a bigger difference maker in an area of weakness from last season. The Reds could get by with , or Nick Senzel in center field if they had to this season and have some good prospects not too far away from being ready.
Do you think the Reds gave up too [many of] their prospects [in] the trade with the Dodgers? I believe all three [players received] will be free [agents] after the end of the season, and I don't see the Reds re-signing any of them.
-- Donny B., Greensburg, Ind.

I don't think they gave up too much to get Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and in the deal on Dec. 21. Besides moving Homer Bailey and his contract, Cincinnati dealt two prospects in Josiah Gray and Jeter Downs. Both Minor Leaguers were certainly coveted and in the MLB Pipeline Top 30 for the organization, but they likely were several years away from the big leagues. And with Puig, Kemp and Wood all a year from being free agents, the Reds will have some options.
If the team is competitive, the Reds could have the benefit of keeping them all season and making them qualifying offers. If they are rejected, they would provide higher compensation Draft picks equal to or better than where they got Gray and Downs the last two Drafts. And if Cincinnati doesn't meet its goal of competing in the division, all three players could be quality chips at the Trade Deadline.