Reds second baseman Jonathan India is amidst a bounceback season. The 2021 NL Rookie of the 12 months had a down ’22 marketing campaign. He spent a while on the injured record with hamstring points and solely hit .249/.327/.378 in 103 video games.
The primary two months of this season have extra intently resembled India’s rookie kind. He entered play Thursday with a .282/.369/.426 batting line over 244 plate appearances. His 15 doubles are one shy of final 12 months’s mark in a bit over half the enjoying time. He has a modest 5 dwelling runs however is reliably reaching base on the high of the Cincinnati lineup. He’s averted the IL and been within the beginning lineup for all however one of many Reds’ video games up to now.
Whereas he’s not hitting for a ton of over-the-fence energy, India has taken a marked step ahead in his strike zone protection. He’s all the time been a disciplined, high-contact hitter and he’s taken that to career-best heights. India’s strolling at a top quality 10.7% price and has minimize his strikeouts to a personal-low 18% clip. He’s chasing fewer pitches outdoors the strike zone than ever and making contact on a career-high 83.7% of his swings. He’s additionally hitting the ball a good bit tougher than he did final season.
Different golf equipment have unsurprisingly taken observe. Jeff Passan of ESPN reported this morning the Reds are receiving commerce curiosity in India however aren’t anxious to maneuver him. That’s to not say they’re fully against talks — few gamers across the league are actually “untouchable” in negotiations — however displays the shortage of urgency for Cincinnati to make a deal.
India broke camp in 2021, giving him precisely two years of huge league service coming into this season. He’ll be eligible for arbitration on the finish of the 12 months and isn’t slated to achieve free company till after the 2026 marketing campaign. The Reds have little or no cash on the books past this season and received’t have any difficulty accommodating India’s arbitration salaries.
There’s a simple case for Cincinnati to maintain him round. Even in a weak NL Central, the Reds aren’t anticipated to compete this season. Their 26-29 report is a bit higher than most outdoors observers probably anticipated, although they’re nonetheless a longshot to hold within the playoff combine all 12 months. Given their post-’23 payroll flexibility and a farm system with loads of higher minors expertise, the Reds might extra significantly angle for postseason competition as quickly as subsequent 12 months.
As arguably the membership’s greatest place participant, India might be a major a part of these efforts. It’s not solely outlandish for others groups to the touch base with basic supervisor Nick Krall and his entrance workplace, although. The power of Cincinnati’s minor league pipeline is the center infield, main the Reds to look into trading from that depth to deal with different areas of the farm system over the offseason.
Former first spherical decide Matt McLain reached the majors final month after tearing up Triple-A pitching. He’s hit the bottom operating as the first shortstop, posting a .361/.426/.541 line over his first 68 plate appearances. Elly De La Cruz, within the dialog for the highest prospect in baseball, probably isn’t far behind whereas carrying a .303/.401/.648 slash as a 21-year-old in his first crack at Triple-A. Noelvi Marte — arguably the next-best prospect within the system — is hitting .295/.369/.500 whereas enjoying shortstop in Double-A. Edwin Arroyo isn’t hitting nicely in Excessive-A however entered the 12 months as a high 100 caliber prospect and is predicted to stay at shortstop himself.
India is a productive hitter however has drawn below-average defensive grades from metrics like Defensive Runs Saved and Statcast’s Outs Above Common all through his profession. There’s no purpose for the Reds to maneuver him off the keystone imminently. Prospect promotions might alter that calculus within the coming months or subsequent 12 months.
Nonetheless, the Reds might see any India commerce presents as placing the cart earlier than the horse. They opened the season with Jose Barrero and Kevin Newman as their shortstop tandem. Proficient because the higher minors choices are, none of them have greater than a two-week MLB monitor report.
It’s additionally widespread for center infield prospects to department out to different positions as they strategy the MLB degree. McLain performed some middle discipline at UCLA and will finally be an choice within the outfield. De La Cruz and Marte are each larger-framed shortstop prospects, main some evaluators to query whether or not both could be a greater match for third base down the road.