One solution would be for Williams to pull off a trade for either Duvall or Schebler. Both hitters offer power, as Duvall slugged 31 homers in 2017 after hitting 33 in ’16, while Schebler hit 30 homers for the first time last season. Duvall has also been a National League Gold Glove finalist in each of the last two seasons and was a 2016 NL All-Star.
Both hitters struggled mightily in the second half last season. Duvall batted .249/.301/.480 in 157 games, but slumped to just .212 with 11 homers after the All-Star break. He finished the season with no homers hit over his final 29 games. His 2016 production also saw a big drop off following the break.
In 141 games last season, Schebler batted .233/.307/.484, but dropped to .197 with eight homers in the second half. That came while trying to play through a left shoulder injury initially suffered in early June. He spent Aug. 1-17 on the disabled list, allowing space for Winker to emerge.
In his 47 games, Winker hit .298/.375/.529 with seven homers and 15 RBIs. The ability for the organization’s No. 5 prospect to work counts and get on base was as advertised. The line drive hitter also accessed some power by hitting more than the five homers he had combined at Triple-A Louisville in 2016-17.
So far this offseason, there have been no rumors of any clubs having interest in acquiring Duvall or Schebler. At the same time, Williams doesn’t feel compelled to make a trade, because the other solution is to have Price divide up playing time. It could be a tandem system where Duvall, Schebler and Winker all get significant playing time.
If the three outfielders each played around 120 games, it could allow them all to contribute meaningful numbers. Whoever doesn’t play would immediately become the best offensive option for Price off the bench in the late innings.
For Duvall, perhaps playing fewer games in the first half could keep him fresher in the second half. For Winker, it would mean a more gradual assumption of responsibility in the lineup. Both Schebler and Winker are lefty hitters that could be stacked against a right-handed pitcher. But Schebler was actually stronger vs. lefties (.276) than righties (.215) last year, although he was much better vs. right-handers in 2016.
But going with an outfield tandem would create a domino situation elsewhere if Duvall, Schebler and Winker all play at the same time. Duvall can also play the two corner infield spots, meaning he could spell third baseman Eugenio Suarez or first baseman Joey Votto. Of course, Votto started all 162 games in 2017 and doesn’t like taking breaks. Suarez could also play shortstop, if needed. Schebler can play center field on days Billy Hamilton needs to be off.
Put it all together and Williams, Price and the corner outfielders certainly have a challenge in front of them ahead of next season. But it’s not necessarily a bad one for the Reds to have.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.