The Dodgers have an offensive hole at second base that is preventing their offense from reaching its potential. Luckily there is a rebuilding club that has a great fit available.
The Dodgers have gotten a .556 OPS from their second base position, reaffirming the preseason hole they had there. Logan Forsythe (61 OPS+ with 100 being league-average) and Chase Utley (74 OPS+) have been largely ineffective, prompting the question of how the problem should be addressed.
With no prospects in the minors that can come up and help, a trade would be the best plan of action. Jed Lowrie is an option, and while he is still producing, he has slowed down a lot from his torrid start. And at 34 years of age, just how long into the season he can keep up the production is a legitimate question.
Scooter Gennett, however, is the guy the Dodgers should look at and go after. Before 2017, when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers, he was a solid, if unspectacular, player with a decent, but not great, hit tool, little power, and ok on defense.
But since being traded from Milwaukee to Cincinnati, he has transformed into a completely different player. Last season he exploded for a .295/.342/.531 slash line with 27 home runs. And this year, he has picked up where he left off and then some. He is currently hitting .344/.378./.568 with 12 home runs in 240 plate appearances.
He does not walk much at all, and never will, but that has not stopped him from being explosive with the bat. He has a magnificent 157 wRC+, according to FanGraphs, and 155 OPS+ which dwarfs Logan Forsythe and Chase Utley’s production combined.
Weighted Runs Created attempts to quantify a player’s total offensive value and measure it by runs, and Weighted Runs Created Plus attempts to compare it to the entire league, with 100 being average.
According to FanGraphs, he has increased his hard-hit rate yet again, helping to increase his average exit velocity as well. Combined with the increased launch angle, and it is easy to understand why he has been better than last year and is starting to establish himself as one of the premier offensive second basemen in the league.
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Defensively though, he is nothing special, average at best, but has the versatility that Andrew Friedman & Co. love.
So why would the Cincinnati Reds move a guy who is playing the best ball of his life? Well, they are rebuilding and need as many young assets as they can get. Gennett, 28, is in the middle of his prime with another year of team control (last year of arbitration) after this season, making him a prime trade candidate who can net the best return for the team.
Also, the Reds’ top prospect, Nick Senzel, has moved from third base to second this season, making him the future at the position. The Reds can hold onto Gennett and put him in the outfield, but why wait and overpay in free agency for a guy that does not fit your team’s timeline. Or even, why wait until next year, when his value decreases, to move him when his value will not be any higher than it is right now?
They are 21-40 and do not figure to get any better in 2018. Moving him will help their tank job in the race for the number one pick. And perhaps Los Angeles can involve Logan Forsythe and his expiring contract in a potential deal to help offset some of the financial burdens of this year. And with how bad Forsythe has been since coming to LA, he would not threaten the Reds’ hunt for the top pick in next year’s draft.
Gennett will not come cheap but really should not require any elite prospects either because he is not an elite player or talent. He has only had eight great months and only has one more year of team control left. And when you walk just 5.2% of your plate appearances over your career, that alone lowers the starting point. Starting with a young and raw, but high potential, players like Yadier Alvarez, or someone of that caliber, would be a good place to begin.
We do not know how Gennett is viewed around the league or how much the Reds objectively value him. But there is no doubt that the Dodgers, who have won 14 of 18, should go after him to help boost a reviving offense and take it to the next level.