Cincinnati Reds fans on social media have been pretty clear recently about their desire to see Scooter Gennett remain a member of his hometown team both now and into the future.
“The way I look at it is, I want to play for this team. I was born in Cincinnati. I grew up a Reds fan. I love my teammates, I love the coaching staff and I love the fans. I'd like nothing more than to play here long-term. Unfortunately that's not up to me.”
After being acquired off waivers prior to the start of last season, the Lebanon native was one of the few bright spots in a dismal 2017.
His career year included a four-home run game, and he parlayed that into a $5.7 million salary for this season.
Before signing that deal, though, Gennett sought a long-term deal from the Reds according to MLB.com.
“They shot it down," Gennett said. "They wanted to see me repeat what I did last year, which, rightfully so. If you look at my years, last year there was a huge spike there. If I was them, I probably would've went the same route. 'Let's see if he can do it again.'
“That being said, I feel like I'm doing a good job this year kind of backing up my last year. The ball's in their court. I think it's really up to Mr. Castellini [Bob Castellini, owner/CEO] and the front office about where we go from here. I love the team and I'd love to be here.”
The 28-year-old has one more season before he is eligible for free agency, but the Reds seem likely to parlay his hot start to 2018 into a few prospects to further strengthen the farm system.
Conventional wisdom says that is the right thing to do — especially with top prospect Nick Senzel projected as an elite second baseman — but fans are understandably wary of moving yet another established big-league player for a future that never seems to arrive.
SECOND THOUGHTS: Reds should make Gennett face of franchise
(Check out the comments on this story as an example.)
Prior to the season, general manager Dick Williams (who has been promoted to team president since) said he understands fans get frustrated by seeing familiar faces such as Johnny Cueto, Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman and Jay Bruce traded for prospects, the team can’t let sentiment get in the way of prudence.
“It’s a challenge. When you look at all those guys who came up and helped us in the past — Votto, Bruce, Frazier — all those opportunities were created by getting rid of guys who were popular — Dunn, Griffey, Kearns — you had to trade those guys to create opportunities for the next generation. It’s just something you’ve got to keep doing.
“The fans always think the guy you’re losing is the last great player at that position or whatever, but you just have to keep filling the pipeline to give them something new to get excited about and try to sign the right free agents at the right time, and I think that time is coming. We’ll have enough young talent that we can really start to add from outside.”
Four months ago, those words sounded better than they do today with the team languishing in last place again, but one gets the sense many in the fan base were already running short on patience even then.
Whether or not that has any effect on what the team does between now and the trade deadline remains to be seen, but it isn’t likely.