As the Reds make a push for the playoffs, they made a bittersweet transaction on Monday. First, the bitter: All-Star outfielder Jesse Winker was placed on the injured list with an intercostal strain. He recently missed three games before trying to gut it out Sunday. He ended up having to be replaced after three innings.
Now, the sweet: Jose Barrero has been called up from the minors to take Winker's roster spot.
The Reds enter Monday's action just 2 1/2 games behind the Padres for the second NL wild card. They have won 13 of their last 19 games and have what looks to be a soft schedule the rest of the way, for the most part. Of their remaining 43 games, they play the Pirates nine times, Marlins seven times, Cubs six times, Nationals four times and Tigers three times. That's 29 games against far inferior competition.
Losing Winker hurts, of course, especially since we can't be sure how long he'll be out. The 27-year-old lefty is hitting .307/.395/.560 (140 OPS+) with 24 homers, 71 RBI, 77 runs and an NL-best 32 doubles.
Can Barrero ease the loss? He was forced into action last year with the Reds and wasn't good at all, but there were no minor leagues and he'd previously never been above High-A. Now he's played 40 games in Double-A, where he hit .300/.367/.481 and 40 at Triple-A (.305/.389/.584). He homered in the Futures Game, at which point a source in the Reds organization told CBS Sports they are really big on his MLB upside.
Just a few days later, he went on an extended tear. In Barrero's last 28 Triple-A games, starting on July 15, he's hit .354/.430/.681 with 10 doubles, nine homers, 24 RBI and 24 runs.
It'll be interesting to see how the Reds shuffle things around. They have lately settled in with Jonathan India at second, Kyle Farmer at short and either Eugenio Suarez or Mike Moustakas at third. Barrero's minor-league experience is nearly all at shortstop, but he's gotten in some work at third. Farmer is a utility man, but his outfield experience is very limited. None of the others play outfield.
In the outfield, Nick Castellanos holds down right with Tyler Naquin, Shogo Akiyama and Aristides Aquino filling out the other two spots. That is to say, even with Winker down, it doesn't appear the answer is sliding someone from the infield to the outfield is the plan.
Manager David Bell told reporters Monday that Barrero would mostly be coming off the bench, playing second, third and short (via C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic). Barrero was not in Monday night's lineup against the Cubs.
Regardless, it's a situation to monitor for the playoff-chasing Reds.