Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Reds Offseason Trade Target – SS Willy Adames

Image: Twitter

The Cincinnati Reds have a few obvious needs to address this offseason, but arguably none more pressing than shortstop. Freddy Galvis will be a free agent after the season, and rookie Jose Garcia has struggled so far at the Major League level. It’s clear that Garcia is not ready to be an everyday Major League shortstop for the Reds, and he would benefit greatly from spending some time in AAA in 2021, having never played above High-A prior to making his MLB debut.

A one-year stopgap makes a ton of sense for the Reds, as acquiring a stopgap would afford Garcia some MiLB development time, and he may be ready to contribute by late 2021 or Opening Day 2022. Free agent shortstops this offseason include Marcus Semien, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, and the aforementioned Galvis, though it’s not entirely clear which of those players would be amenable to a one year deal. Top trade targets include Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, and Trevor Story, all of whom will be free agents after the 2021 season.

While not a traditional stopgap option, there is one potential trade candidate that stands out as a great fit to the Reds, and that is Rays SS Willy Adames. Adames is under team control through 2024, and won’t even be arbitration eligible until 2022. Though not a player with a ton of name recognition, there’s plenty to be excited about with regards to Adames.

Adames is a former top prospect, peaking prior to the 2018 season as the #19 prospect in all of baseball per Baseball America, as well as ranking #22 per the MLB.com rankings and #15 per Baseball Prospectus rankings. He was initially acquired by the Rays from the Tigers as the headliner of the three team deal that landed David Price in Detroit. He made his Major League debut in 2018 with the Rays, and has put up a career slash of .266/.334/.429, good for a 108 wRC+ and a cumulative 5.6 fWAR over 278 career games.

Adames has been even better in 2020, though small sample sizes apply as always. All stats are through Thursday, September 10. In 153 PA this year, he has slashed .289/.372/.518 with a 146 wRC+ and 1.4 fWAR. He has also posted a career best 11.8% walk rate, in line with his Minor League numbers, though it has also come with a career worst 35.3% strikeout rate. His StatCast hard hit rate also stands at a career best 44.4% and his xwOBACON is a career best .458, though his other StatCast metrics are more in line with his career numbers. Cutting back on the strikeouts without losing the contact quality and maintaining his walk rate are the keys to Adames sustaining his success.

Adames also has some very unique home and road splits. While many players excel at home and struggle on the road, Adames has been quite the opposite in his career. He’s struggled to hit at home in his career, slashing just .229/.286/.353 with a 78 wRC+ at Tropicana as opposed to .305/.382/.507 with a 138 wRC+ on the road. That has been even more amplified in 2020, with a slash of .179/.258/.339 at home and .367/.451/.646 on the road. He’s also striking out more frequently at home, with a strikeout rate about 5% higher at home than on the road.

It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence, as Adames has noted it’s been difficult for him to see the ball at home. He experimented with wearing clear, non-prescription glasses on Thursday and drew a walk in that one plate appearance.

Adames will experiment with both clear and tinted glasses over the next few games at home to see if they help him see the ball better, but the Rays are also considering adjusting the lighting at Tropicana to help him see the ball better. The Rays did something similar last year, adjusting the lighting to accommodate Tommy Pham, though manager Kevin Cash casted doubt on the possibility of adjusting the lighting again because it could negatively impact other Rays hitters.

Regardless if he is able to resolve his issues seeing the ball at Tropicana Field, Adames wouldn’t have the same issue at Great American Ballpark given that it’s an outdoor stadium rather than a dome. Additionally, GABP is known to be a hitter’s paradise, so moving into a much more friendly home park would likely work wonders for Adames.

On the defensive side, Adames is known to be a good defender. Though he struggled defensively in his rookie year, he posted 12 DRS last year, and also rated out as above average by OAA, posting 2 OAA in 2019. While he may not win Gold Gloves, he’s a steady defender who certainly won’t hurt you in the field, something that the Reds desperately need given their defensive struggles as a whole this year.

In terms of trade availability, it seems logical that the Rays will listen to offers on Adames this offseason. They have shortstop prospect Vidal Brujan waiting in the wings, and Brujan may even make his debut this year. Uber-prospect Wander Franco is also a shortstop, and the Rays would likely prefer to keep him in his preferred position. The Rays have also been known to listen to trade offers on just about everyone, even while they are contending, so it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see Adames traded.

In terms of prospect cost, Adames likely wouldn’t come super cheap, given that he’s young, under control for multiple seasons, and looks to have a promising future. At the same time, the Reds may be able to get Adames for the same type of package that they’d have to give up for one year of Lindor, Story, or Seager, and potentially even less. Our Nick Lobraico believes a package of infielder Jonathan India, catcher Jackson Miller, and a lower level pitcher with upside might be enough to entice the Rays to move Adames, and that doesn’t seem an unreasonable price to pay from the Reds’ perspective.

When Jose Garcia is ready to be a Major League starter, Adames could become trade bait again, or the Reds could slide one of them over to second base, especially if the universal DH sticks around and Joey Votto or Mike Moustakas is relegated to DH duties. Having too many shortstop options would be a great problem for the Reds to have, especially when they have been looking for stability at the position for the better part of 20 years since Barry Larkin‘s retirement.

Kyle Berger

Reds contributor for Max’s Sporting Studio. Follow on Twitter @KB_48