With the emergence of Derek Dietrich as an excellent slugger and utility man and Jose Iglesias’ spectacular defense and surprising hitting (.308 AVG.), the Reds all of the sudden have an abundance of middle infielders. The club will have to make some interesting decisions once Scooter Gennett makes his long-awaited return from a nagging groin injury.
Jose Peraza began the season as the starting second baseman, with Iglesias playing short. However, he has struggled mightily offensively, posting a .206 average and dismal .266 on-base percentage. In comparison, Iglesias is hitting 100 points higher and playing gold glove level defense. It hasn’t relegated Peraza to a bench role–yet. He’s started 42 games at second base. But, with Dietrich’s all-star campaign well underway, and Scooter Gennett nearing a return, the Reds have a tough choice to make on Peraza. He’s recently been playing a bit of left field but he looks unnatural and uncomfortable in the outfield. He’s a good infielder with great speed, but has only netted 4 stolen bases on the season. Plus, anytime he plays outfield that relegates one of Yasiel Puig, Jesse Winker or Nick Senzel to the bench.
Simply put, Peraza is running out of options. If his bat doesn’t get going he is looking at a bench role or being dealt at the deadline. The former is much more likely, considering Iglesias and Dietrich are both on one-year deals (Dietrich is arbitration eligible next year). Even benching Peraza doesn’t answer all of the Reds questions once Gennett returns.
Derek Dietrich has proven that he should be an everyday player for this team. He’s the team leader in homers with 17 and is getting on base at a .366 clip. He’s too valuable offensively to leave out of the lineup. And, with Iglesias having a career season it opens up the question of how to manage Scooter, Iglesias and Dietrich’s playing time. Surely the team won’t rush Gennett back to playing every day once he is back; but, when he is ready to play everyday things become interesting.
A lot of what the Reds will choose to do with that trio will decide on how close the Reds are to competing for a playoff spot. If they are in the hunt for the playoffs still they may choose to keep all three and find a way to keep them all playing regularly. If not, they may look to deal one of the trio.