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Monday, March 22, 2021

The Cincinnati Reds, Jonathan India, and service time manipulation

The team’s 1st round pick from 2018, has been perhaps the single biggest dynamo and domino in Reds camp this spring, his stellar play not only prompting talk of him cracking the big league roster but also causing a roster ripple-effect, too. Finding room for his bat was one of the key factors in the decision to ultimately shuffle the infield, something that has seen the newly-svelte Eugenio Suarez move to shortstop and incumbent 2B Mike Moustakas backfill at 3B, moves that should allow for India to slide into what appears to be a very regular opening at the keystone as early as the Reds so choose.

Will they, though? Will the same Reds that threw away players all winter solely because they were making normal big league dollars do something that, in theory, jeopardizes their long-term ability to squeeze out the most bang for their dollars? Will they view India’s $5.3 million signing bonus as an economic sunk cost on the path to future success, or will they take the view that they’d like to amortize it over seven big league years instead of six?

Will this club take the best roster to the GABP dugout on Opening Day, even if it means future Jonny India can hit free agency at age 29, instead of at age 30?

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 22, 2021 at 02:04 PM | 6 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: jonathan india, reds, service time

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   1. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: March 22, 2021 at 02:19 PM (#6009593)
1. This Reds fan hopes Jonathan India makes the team out of the gate. Votto/India/Suarez/Moose around the infield seems like it is better than any lineup including Kyle Farmer as a regular SS.
2. The last time Jonathan India played in regular games, he hit .270/.414/.378 in 34 games in AA. Then followed that up with a sweet .133 BA in the Arizona Fall League. A few good games in spring training doesn't mean he is ready.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: March 22, 2021 at 03:55 PM (#6009611)
2. The last time Jonathan India played in regular games, he hit .270/.414/.378 in 34 games in AA. Then followed that up with a sweet .133 BA in the Arizona Fall League. A few good games in spring training doesn't mean he is ready.

True. But if the Reds really are moving 29-yo, average or slightly worse 3B Eugenio Suarez to SS to accommodate him then the Reds think he's ready. Note, according to b-r's register, India has played 3B almost exclusively in college and minors, I'm not sure why you'd move Moose too. (Not that I ever expected Moose to handle 2B but apparently he's been OK.)

If the Reds hold him back 10 days then it's unlikely to have much impact on their 2021 chances; it also won't save them much if any money. If they hold him back until super 2, they'll save more money but risk their chance at a weak division more ... plus who knows what that does to the plan to move Suarez and Moose. But I'll believe they're moving Suarez to SS when I see him written into the lineup there for a full week of the regular season.
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: March 22, 2021 at 04:35 PM (#6009619)
   4. JRVJ Posted: March 22, 2021 at 07:49 PM (#6009640)
1, the idea that prospects should never, ever be subject to service time manipulation is a pretty clear tenet in these parts.

However, 2020 was such a strange year, that even if you very, very firmly believe that teams should not exploit players, there's more than enough reason to wonder as to specific prospects.

India may be ready to play right now, or he may have a hitch in his swing that he's getting away with in spring training (but which will be exploited during the regular season) or he needs to work on his footwork or one of many things that we simply are not privy to.

If the Reds bring India up on opening day, good for India If the Reds don't bring India up on opening day, I am willing to extend a little bit of confidence to Reds, since I don't know what they know.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: March 23, 2021 at 06:03 PM (#6009772)
Sure ... but 2020 was a weird year for marginal MLers too. Kyle Farmer, apparently India's main competition, added another lousy 70 PAs to bring him to 364 lousy career ML PAs added onto 2100 decent minors PAs and he's turning 30. There's also 23-yo SS Jose Garcia who had 68 ML PAs with a 7 OPS+ but who had never been above A+ ball before last year (he's out of Cuba) and he's 0 for 14 this spring. Just bringing up Garcia last year seems like a move designed to screw somebody out of service time.

India might be a disaster waiting to happen. And if the Reds keep him down for a couple of months to prove himself, learn to play 2B (which he's done very little), etc. that will give them plenty of plausible deniability and, yes, quite possibly is the right baseball move. I think the Reds also have the perfectly legit excuse that they've got good, "expensive" 3B and 2B already and moving their 3B to SS would be a bad idea so, bad luck, India needs to wait for an injury or trade or move to the OF (which requires some prep time in the minors). If he's in the majors after 10 days in the minors ....

I don't think anybody is really claiming that 40 hot spring PAs proves he's ready -- I'm certainly not. A simple 0-5 will cost him about 130 poins of OPS; two bad games and he's ordinary. I'd never heard of the guy until this article was posted and his minor-league numbers are not impressive. I will note that one of the things that we don't know but the Reds do is how good he did or didn't look in the offsite last year.
   6. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: March 24, 2021 at 08:32 AM (#6009812)
One more piece of info. Apparently, India played a good bit of 2nd base at the extended camp last year and also was one of the best looking offensive performers. BA article from last August:

Jonathan India picks up a second position

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