On Saturday, Shin-Soo Choo signed a 7-year, $130 million contract with the Texas Rangers. His departure from the Cincinnati Reds leaves a vacancy in the outfield, specifically center field. Last year, Choo played in 154 games and was the Reds everyday center fielder. With the void, outfielder Chris Heisey has an opportunity to become the Reds’ starting center fielder.
Last season, Heisey started in left field for an injured Ryan Ludwick before sustaining a hamstring injury himself. In his four years with the Reds, Heisey has been a backup and found starting time when others were injured. Over that same time period, Heisey has a batting average of .254 with 42 homeruns and 125 RBIs. Throughout his tenure, Heisey has been clutch in certain situations, but has disappointed in others.
In addition to Choo’s departure, the Reds have a new manager after Dusty Baker was fired in October. Former pitching coach Bryan Price is now the Red’s manager. Heisey wasn’t one of Baker’s favorites, and I think that is one reason why he did not see much playing time unless someone was injured or given a periodical day off.
With a new manager and Choo’s departure, I think it is Heisey’s position to lose. By far, Heisey has the most MLB experience among Reds outfielders after Ludwick and Jay Bruce. If Heisey struggles in preseason, players like Billy Hamilton could end up starting. However, Heisey’s hard and consistent work ethic led him from a small college, Messiah College, through the minor leagues and into the majors.
The Reds’ outfield vacancy is one of the MLB storylines to follow this offseason and intro Spring Training. At this point, Heisey’s past expierence, a new manager and Choo’s departure will lead to him into the role of the Reds’ next starting center fielder.
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