Eugenio Suarez hasn’t gotten significant reps at shortstop since 2015, but the Reds may use him there this season. With Suarez having lost 15 pounds since last season, the team is considering him as an option at short, manager David Bell told Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer and other reporters Monday. He’ll start there for the team in its game against the Rockies on Tuesday.
Suarez has been the Reds’ primary third baseman since 2016, but the team has a capable hot corner replacement in Mike Moustakas, who has spent the majority of his career at the position. Moustakas was mostly a second baseman last season, and he’s penciled in as the Reds’ starter at the keystone this year. However, if Suarez shifts to short, it could open up second for Jonathan India, Nightengale notes. India, the fifth overall pick in the 2018 draft, hasn’t played above the Double-A level yet, though Bell said last week that the 24-year-old has a legitimate chance to make the Reds’ Opening Day roster.
When the offseason began, expectations were that the Reds would acquire a shortstop in free agency or via trade (Didi Gregorius, Marcus Semien, Andrelton Simmons and Ha-Seong Kim were all on the open market), as Freddy Galvis, Jose Garcia and Kyle Farmer combined for just 0.1 fWAR at the spot. Galvis has since left for the Orioles, while Garcia was clearly in over his head in his first major league action. Nevertheless, the Reds didn’t sign any shortstops to a big league deal or land a proven option in a trade, and it could now lead them to reinstall Suarez at the position this year.
Suarez has the bat for shortstop, having slashed .261/.342/.473 with 162 home runs in 3,433 plate appearances, but it’s up in the air whether the 29-year-old would perform well in the field. In 96 games at short in 2015, Suarez posted miserable marks with minus-12 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-10.4 Ultimate Zone Rating.