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Reds, Jonathan India Agree To Two-Year Deal

The Reds have agreed to a two-year deal with infielder Jonathan India, per a team announcement. The Boras Corporation client will be paid $3.8MM in 2024 and $5MM in 2025, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. He can earn an additional $2.05MM in 2025 based on plate appearances and games started. India had filed for a $4MM salary in his first trip through the arbitration process, while the Reds countered with a $3.2MM figure.

As a result of this agreement, the two parties will avoid an arbitration hearing both this year and next. India, the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year, remains under club control through the 2026 season and will be eligible for arbitration one final time following the 2025 season.

India burst onto the scene with the Reds in ’21, hitting .269/.376/.459 (122 wRC+) with 21 home runs, 34 doubles, a pair of triples, a dozen steals, an 11.3% walk rate and a 22.3% strikeout rate. That performance led to a near-unanimous Rookie of the Year selection over runner-up Trevor Rogers, but India’s stock has dipped a bit since that early-career highlight.

Over the past two seasons, a hamstring strain and a bout of plantar fasciitis have limited India to 222 games and quiet possibly contributed to a decline in his production. He hasn’t been a bad hitter, but the 27-year-old’s .246/.333/.394 slash over the past two years (98 wRC+) is a good ways shy of that more impressive rookie output. Couple that with poor defensive ratings at second base (-21 Defensive Runs Saved, -16 Outs Above Average in 2022-23) and at least some of the shine has come off the 2018 No. 5 overall draft selection.

Between his downturn at the plate, the Reds’ wealth of young infield talent (e.g. Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, Spencer Steer, Noelvi Marte, Christian Encarnacion-Strand) and the signing of Jeimer Candelario to a three-year deal, there was a good bit of talk about a potential India trade this winter. However, Cincinnati president of baseball operations Nick Krall was nonplused with what was being offered in return for India throughout the winter and downplayed the chances of the infielder changing hands a few months back.

The addition of Candelario to an already-crowded infield mix creates something of a logjam, though Cincinnati plans to at least somewhat alleviate that crunch by moving Steer to left field on a full-time basis this coming season. Krall has previously stated that India could also begin to see some time at first base, in addition to designated hitter and his more typical work at second base.

Even with that broadening of his role, there’s still more infield options than positions for the Reds. Candelario will split time between the corners. Marte can play both positions on the left side of the infield. De La Cruz figures to get the chance to be the primary shortstop but will need to bounce back from a dreary finish to the season. McLain spent the bulk of his time in 2023 at shortstop, finishing fifth in Rookie of the Year voting himself. With De La Cruz likely back at shortstop, he could slide to the other side of the second base bag. Encarnacion-Strand has experience at the hot corner but is likely ticketed for first base and DH work.

It’s a crowded mix of players, but outside of Candelario and India, no one from the group has more than one full season of big league action under his belt. The potential for regression from one or more of those infielders is obvious, and injuries are an inevitability. The Reds, who were in the market for pitching help this winter, clearly recognized that India alone wouldn’t fetch them a meaningful rotation upgrade and have opted to hold onto the depth and stability he provides in relation to their collection of impressive but still fairly inexperienced young outfielders. An eventual trade remains plausible, particularly if enough of the young wave of big leaguers cement themselves as cornerstone pieces, but for the time being India seems quite likely to open the 2024 campaign on Cincinnati’s roster.


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