With SS market thin, how will Reds fill spot?

January 27th, 2021

CINCINNATI -- The Reds have spent all winter trying to fill a hole at shortstop, but their options have suddenly whittled down significantly.

On Tuesday alone, veteran shortstops Andrelton Simmons, Marcus Semien and former Red Freddy Galvis all agreed to new contracts with other clubs. Cincinnati was interested in both Semien and Simmons. The only significant free agent left for that position is Didi Gregorius.

“We’ve had competitive offers out to people that we’ve liked,” general manager Nick Krall told MLB.com on Wednesday. “I think we’ve been in a lot of different markets to find players that fit our club. We’ve ended up losing out on some guys. Some things didn’t go the way we were looking for.”

Sources told MLB.com that the defensively strong Simmons agreed to a one-year, $10.5 million contract with the Twins on Tuesday. Toronto landed Semien for one year at $18 million. Galvis agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Orioles.

Krall indicated that the Reds remain interested in Gregorius, who came up through their organization and debuted in the big leagues in 2012. He was pursued by Cincinnati last winter before he signed a one-year, $14 million contract with the Phillies.

Multiple reports have noted that Philadelphia remains in the hunt to try to re-sign Gregorius.

“We’re trying to improve the position. It’s just trying to figure out the best way for our franchise to go,” Krall said.

Internally, the Reds have prospect Jose Garcia and utility players Kyle Farmer and Alex Blandino. Garcia jumped from Class A Advanced to the Major Leagues last season and showed strength defensively, but he could benefit from more hitting development in the Minors.

Krall did not commit to a potential contingency plan if a free-agent signing or trade can’t be done.

“It’s too early to categorize ‘This is our starter' or 'This is our backup' or 'This guy is going to make the team.’ There are a lot of different ways this could go,” he said.

Most Reds transactions this offseason has been smaller moves that added to the pitching staff. Through trades, signings and waiver claims, Krall has brought in Brandon Bailey, Noé Ramirez, Art Warren, Edgar Garcia, Hector Pérez, Cionel Pérez and Jeff Hoffman.

The pitchers don’t have a common thread, with one exception. None has had sustained success in the big leagues.

“They’re guys that have some upside, they can do some things,” Krall said. “They’re guys that can compete for a spot, whether it’s a starting rotation spot or a bullpen spot. Most of them have really good arms. Some are breaking ball guys, some are changeup guys. It’s how we can maximize what they do to help improve our club.”

The trade of Raisel Iglesias to the Angels for Ramirez left a void at the closer’s spot. Lucas Sims, Amir Garrett and Michael Lorenzen could be candidates; Krall didn’t seem primed to sign a primary closer.

“I think right now we’re trying to continue to build this team and fill out our bullpen,” he said. “We’ll see what our options are moving forward into Spring Training.”

As for the top free agent remaining on the market, 2020 National League Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer, rumors remain that the Mets, Angels and Dodgers are the front-runners. Now that Bauer has backed off a demand for a one-year contract only, the Reds aren’t in play.

“We’re probably not involved in that,” Krall said.