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The Reds' hopes of making a playoff run took a hit in the final weekend of spring training, and so did many Fantasy players', when second baseman Scooter Gennett suffered a groin injury that will keep him out 8-to-12 weeks.
The team announced the diagnosis Saturday, and in case you were hoping it would mean an opportunity for Nick Senzel, the team's top prospect, don't get too excited:
Scooter Gennett out 8-12 weeks with a right groin strain. José Iglesias will play SS, José Peraza 2B. Kyle Farmer will be on the roster— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) March 23, 2019
So, no Gennett through at least May, most likely, and no Fantasy-relevant replacement coming through in house. At least for the time being, this stinks.
Gennett was pretty much a consensus top-10 second baseman, and. Gennett was Scott's No. 4 second baseman in both H2H points and category-based formats. Coming off consecutive years with at least a .295 average and 23-plus homers, Gennett was a solid value in the eighth round. Now? It's hard to see him being worth the risk before the reserve rounds come around.
If you want to find a silver lining here, it's that Gennett isn't exactly a guy who relies on speed or athleticism for his Fantasy value. He's a hitter through and through, and a pretty good one, so the hope is the effects of this injury won't linger once he is healthy. If you get him at enough of a discount, you may just have a top-five second baseman for the final three or four months of the season.
As you'll see, the in-house replacement options aren't exactly thrilling — at least not yet — but there are some decent second basemen available late in drafts, or possibly in free agency. D.J. LeMahieu is a solid replacement option who is being discounted because the lack of clarity on his long-term role, but he should play pretty regularly early on. Jeff McNeil is second base eligible, and will be the Mets' starting third baseman to start the season, so he's a good bet, too. But your best option might be Ryan McMahon, who has been absolutely crushing the ball in spring, and has Coors Field to call home. He might be your best bet to replace Gennett — and he has the upside to remain viable starter even when Gennett is back.
Now to the other bad news: The underwhelming replacement option the Reds are likely to turn to. Jose Iglesias isn't a bad player, but much of his real-world value comes from his glove. He might steal a half-dozen bases if he plays everyday for the next few months, but that's about all he'll bring to the table.
Derek Dietrich will also likely figure into the plan at second base (with Peraza sliding over to short) in some way, and he's probably a more interesting Fantasy option on a per-plate-appearance basis thanks to his solid power and on-base skills. However, there probably won't be enough plate appearances for him to make much of an impact. Both he and Iglesias are only worth considering as reserve-round options in an NL-only league.
And, of course, they may only figure into the plans for a couple of weeks, anyway. Senzel competed for the center field job in the spring but was ultimately sent down in the last few days. That was a defensible decision, given Senzel's lack of experience there, but he could see a quick ascension to the majors with Gennett out. The Reds will likely hold him down in the minors for at least a few weeks, both to gain that extra year of club control and to save face in the event of a potential service time fight.
However, if he gets off to a hot start, this now gives him a second avenue toward playing time. Either Scott Schebler struggles — or Jesse Winker or Yasiel Puig gets hurt, something both are at risk for, given history — or Iglesias just proves to be too much of a liability with the glove to be worth playing every day.
This doesn't give Senzel a path to playing time immediately, and for that, Fantasy players are rightly disappointed. However, it does increase his chances of an early debut. If the Reds opt to call him up in April, he has the potential to be a five-category contributor and remains worth drafting in all leagues in the later rounds.
It's not quite a consolation prize for losing Gennett this early, but it's not nothing, either.