Fay: When Winker moves into Reds rotation, which other outfielder gets bumped?

CINCINNATI -- Reds manager Bryan Price knows better than to make Opening Day plans in September, so he isn't trying to figure out his 2018 outfield rotation just yet.

But this much is clear: Jesse Winker's time has arrived. Winker has shown enough in 36 games in the big leagues to have a guaranteed spot on the '18 roster.

All three members of every day outfield from 2017 -- Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler -- are under control for 2018 as well.

Four outfields, three spots. Again, Price isn't ready to reveal his plans for the outfield rotation.

"Before I put my foot in my mouth, I'll probably wait until Opening Day," Price said. "Then it would be a question that you've got to answer. It's realistic. You've gotten through the offseason. You know who is on your team.

"You know who your injured players are."

It's possible that the Reds would move an outfielder. The team listened to trade offers on Hamilton last year. He's making $2.6 million this year and figures to make double that as a second-time arbitration-eligible player, and he'll begin 2018 a year from free agency.

Hamilton's broken thumb has given Winker a chance to play every day and lead off. Winker went into Tuesday hitting .277/.370/.500 with six home runs and 12 RBI in 36 games.

He was in the leadoff spot for the five times in six games Tuesday. One could make an argument that he's a better choice there than Hamilton.

"I like the on-base (from Winker)," Price said. "It would be nice if the speed component was there also, but typically you're going to get one or the other. You've hit the jackpot when you get a guy who can run that's got a .370 on-base.

"In this case, we've got the guy with a .370 on-base who doesn't run as well and we've got the lower on-base guy who can really run. Nobody runs better than Billy. I think they both offer different skills sets but they both offer value in that role."

Hamilton is hitting .248/.298/.334 with four home runs and 37 RBI. His Major League-leading 58 base have allowed him to score 82 runs. He's 21st in the National League in that category.

Hamilton's defense in center is Gold Glove-caliber as well.

There's also the possibility that the Reds could move Duvall or Schebler. Duvall is 28, but he's not arbitration-eligible until 2019. Schebler's 26, but he's not arb-eligible until 2020. That makes them more affordable than Hamilton. The controllability also increases their trade value.

Both Duvall and Schebler have put up good power numbers, but both have struggled in the second half.

Duvall went into Tuesday hitting .248 with 31 home runs and 96 RBI. He was hitting .204 since the break. Schebler went into Tuesday hitting .234 with 27 home runs and 60 RBI. He was hitting .191 since the break.

Another factor to consider: The Reds' best hitting prospect, Nick Senzel, is playing third base. That's currently occupied by Eugenio Suarez, who's become a terrific defender. Senzel is athletic enough to move to left.

These things have a way of working themselves out, and there are worse things than having four outfielders for three spots.

"We want to be deep," Price said. "You want options. You always want to feel like your strength is your bench."

Print this article Back to Top