Depending on which writer you believe, the Cincinnati Reds might be looking to move Scooter Gennett, and the Yankees are a perfect fit should Cincinnati actually put him on the market. Gennett was a top-five second baseman last season with one arbitration year to go before he hits free agency. With Didi Gregorius set to miss a sizable chunk of time next season, a trade for Gennett could more than make up for any lost infield production.
Gennett, whose birth name is Ryan, kind of came out of nowhere the last two years. He began his career with the Brewers, and the Reds claimed him off waivers just before Opening Day 2017. Since arriving in Cincinnati, Gennett’s bat has really emerged as his best tool. A disciple of the launch angle church, he’s has been selling out for power a little bit more the past two years, and it’s clearly been working for him. He possesses a .303/.351/.508/ slash line with 50 homers over that span. Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto are the only two Reds that have been more valuable at the plate in that span.
Even with a more powerful approach, Gennett’s strikeouts and batting average haven’t seen significant decreases since he started going for more power. A .350 BABIP over the last two seasons may partially account for such a high batting average. Still, Gennett had a 19.6% strikeout rate this season, which would make him one of the least strikeout-prone Yankees. As far as Didi Gregorius replacements go, Gennett is a near-perfect match at the plate. Gennett was worth 125 wRC+ this season; Gregorius had 121 wRC+.
Out in the field, Gennett possesses an average glove. He likely won’t cover a ton of ground out at second, but he makes routine plays and occasionally goes out of zone to make a play. He is certainly a step down from Didi, but Gennett can still hold his own on defense. Gennett did get some experience in left field in 2017, but he only logged 55 innings out there. To expect him to be a serviceable outfielder might be asking a bit too much.
Perhaps the best thing about Gennett is that he would be a cost-efficient addition. He has just one more year of arbitration left before he becomes a free agent. MLB Trade Rumors projects his 2019 earnings at $10.7 million next season, which is definitely reasonable. If Gennett is used simply as a fill-in for Didi, then I’m not sure the Yankees need Gennett for longer than just the 2019 season. Yes, he’s a very talented player, but I’m not sold on him being better than a Didi/Gleyber Torres combination.
Finally, the Yankees would have to make a trade to acquire Gennett, and the Reds aren’t going to give him away for nothing. He was an All-Star last year, and only a handful of players have been better at second base the past two seasons. It would make sense if Sonny Gray was included in a trade, but Sonny-for-Scooter straight up is absolutely not going to get it done. The Reds aren’t a great baseball team, but they aren’t a stupid one either. If the Yankees indeed make a play for Gennett, it’s likely going to cost them a prospect or two. Regardless of what it takes, Gennett would be a fantastic piece to add to this Yankee infield.