Would you rather see Eugenio Suarez at shortstop and Nick Senzel at third base? What do you think?
-- Don, Cincinnati
Even though Suarez wasn't listed among MLB Network's Top 10 third basemen, he's become excellent at that position in a short amount of time, and he is probably better than he was at shortstop. I've never seen Senzel play in person, but have, of course, heard good things. I'm not saying Suarez can't move, but the Reds seem to have a good thing going with him at third base. They also believe he can become an elite player at that position. Senzel appears to be much more versatile and athletic. He could play shortstop, second base, and he's going to try the outfield this spring. They view him like Todd Frazier was in that he played multiple positions when he first came up. Let's see how that goes before deciding the future of third base.
You say we can't compete for free agents or resign our top players because we're a small market team, then how does Cleveland do it?
-- David L., Albany, Ohio
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The Indians' recent history says they identify a few players they feel they can keep and/or afford for the long term and then they move on from many of the others. From 2009-12, they averaged almost 92 losses per season. The last rebuild began in '08, when Carsten Sabathia was traded and in subsequent years, the Tribe dealt Cliff Lee, Jake Westbrook and Shin-Soo Choo. Among the prospects Cleveland got in those deals were Corey Kluber, Michael Brantley and Carlos Carrasco. This offseason, it let Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce go as free agents. The Indians' only big-splash signing in this era was Edwin Encarnacion. Otherwise, they built a winner with smart trades for prospects and/or big leaguers like Andrew Miller, and with homegrown talent -- which is exactly what the Reds are trying to emulate.
Does Homer Bailey have a "no trade" clause in his contract? If not, doesn't he hit his 10-and-5 rights soon? Why not move him now and save some money?
-- Tim M., Cincinnati
Bailey, who has three years and $69 million remaining on his six-year contract, doesn't have a no-trade clause. But if he's traded, money that's deferred in the deal must all be paid. He has nine years of service time so his 10-and-5 rights could kick in. The obstacle about moving him and saving money is he's had three elbow surgeries since 2014 and a disappointing and shortened '17 campaign. His trade value and demand for him isn't exactly robust.
In view of losing Zack Cozart, in no way expecting Scooter Gennett to have the same year as in '17 and it being unlikely Joey Votto will duplicate a phenomenal year, and only one minor trade, why would the Reds think they can improve much over last year?
-- Dick G., Southport, N.C.
Fair question. I don't think lack of lineup production sent the Reds to a 94-loss season. The pitching fell way short of expectations -- in part because of injuries and because some guys simply didn't pitch well. Although there have been some bullpen upgrades, the Reds are banking on improved health from guys like Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan, and the continued maturation of guys like Luis Castillo, Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle, Amir Garrett, and Robert Stephenson. Will it work? Only playing out the season can tell us. By the way, I wouldn't count out Votto from having another great year. The back of his baseball card shows he can, and has, strung a few seasons like that together.