Reds second baseman Jonathan India, the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year, saw his name pop up on the rumor circuit over the summer and has already been an oft-cited trade candidate in the early stages of the offseason. Recent reports from Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Jeff Passan of ESPN do little to quell the belief that the 26-year-old could change hands this winter. Nightengale wrote over the weekend that Cincinnati is “expected” to trade India this offseason, while Passan writes this morning that the Reds have been suggesting to potential trade partners that India is the “odd man out” in their glut of infielders.
Indeed, the Reds have an enviable crop of young talent on the dirt. Beyond India, they saw former first-round pick Matt McLain, top prospect Elly De La Cruz and trade acquisitions Spencer Steer, Noelvi Marte and Christian Encarnacion-Strand all log time in the big leagues.
McLain was the most impressive of the bunch, hitting .290/.357/.507 with 16 homers and 14 steals in 403 trips to the plate. De La Cruz faded after a hot start but still posted a .235/.300/.410 line with 13 homers and a whopping 35 steals in just 98 games — all while recording intriguing batted-ball metrics per Statcast and showing off his elite speed. Steer, meanwhile, bounced between first base, second base, third base and the outfield corners while delivering a .271/.356/.464 output and 23 homers. Encarnacion-Strand (.270/.328/.477, 13 homers in 241 plate appearances) and Marte (.316/.366/.456 in 123 plate appearances) saw less time than the others but acquitted themselves nicely in their MLB debuts.
It’s an immensely talented quintet — one with plenty of defensive versatility. It seems likely that Encarnacion-Strand will settle in at first base and designated hitter, and Steer clearly enjoyed success at the plate in a nomadic, jack-of-all-trades role (even if he graded as a below-average defender at all five positions). Each of De La Cruz, Marte and McLain can handle shortstop, third base or second base. De La Cruz saw the most time at shortstop of the bunch but also posted lesser defensive grades than McLain. The Reds can tinker with the exact alignment in spring training, but regardless of who’s manning which position, it’s hard not to be bullish on Cincinnati’s emerging core of young infielders.
Given that wealth of talent, it becomes easier to see how India could be the odd man out. He’s yet to replicate his excellent showing in…