When the Cincinnati Reds traded shortstop Alex Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox for infielder Kristopher Negron in 2009, they were acquiring organizational depth without any expectation that Negron would ever crack the big leagues as a replacement for second baseman Brandon Phillips.
Now that the Phillips’ injury has opened the door for Negron, the 28-year-old is showing that he could stick with the Reds not only for the rest of this year, but next year too.
Negron could still be released as a free agent this year, but he has the kind of positional versatility (middle infield, third base and outfield) that makes him an inexpensive option to cover two roster spots. He has shown that he can most definitely play the field at a high level in his seven flawless starts for the Reds since Phillips was sidelined.
The downside for Negron has been his bat, but he has shown that he has a willingness and the capability to drive the ball to the opposite field with some power. Whether that is something that can help him improve upon the lack of success he had at the triple-A level remains to be seen. Negron failed to hit higher than .225 in full three triple-A seasons between 2011 and 2013, but improved to .269 this year before his call-up.
So far in his small sample with the Reds this year, Negron has delivered three big opposite-field hits, including two homers and a bases-loaded double.
The Reds need to catch lightning in a bottle if they are going to have any real chance to leapfrog three teams in the NL Central this year, and Negron has shown he’s solid enough to provide at least some of that spark.