Aristides Aquino bursted onto the MLB scene in August. However, it sounds like Aquino won’t be assured a spot in the Cincinnati Reds outfield in 2020.
Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer spoke with Cincinnati Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams about some of the team’s offseason plans. Williams, who’s usually very forthcoming with information, suggested it’s not a forgone conclusion that Aristides Aquino will be the Reds starting right fielder when the 2020 season begins.
That news may come as a shock to some fans, but it’s honestly very refreshing. In the past, the Cincinnati Reds have been very quick to anoint certain players who’ve had a sudden burst of production. Case in point, look at what happened to Derek Dietrich this season. After the month of May saw Dietrich hit 12 homers, his bat went deathly quiet over the second half of the season.
Aquino set the world on fire upon his arrival from Triple-A Louisville. The Punisher slashed .320/.391/.767 with 14 home runs and 33 RBIs. Aquino took home Player of the Month honors for the month of August. Despite finishing 2019 with an .891 OPS and 19 home runs, it sounds as though Williams, who spoke with the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Reds brass aren’t yet convinced.
"“It’s definitely too early to look at him as anything but a very impactful talent with a lot of potential. We will need to add to that outfield mix. The good thing is we feel comfortable with the way we mix and match to put guys in a position to succeed. If one of those guys wants to take off and play his way into an everyday role, then that’ll be upside.”"
So, what does all that mean? It means that Aristides Aquino, after having a phenomenal month of August, is not assured to be the Reds starting right fielder when spring training begins. Furthermore, I’d wager that it’s much more likely to see a platoon of Jesse Winker and Aquino in right field next season.
I know a lot of fans don’t like the idea of platooning, but last season, Winker and Phillip Ervin formed a platoon in left field. Winker hit .285 with 16 home runs against right-handed pitcher, while Ervin slashed .349/.411/.628 against southpaws. The Reds could very well enter 2020 with that platoon in left and Aquino in right, but it doesn’t sound like that will be the case.
Williams made it clear that the Reds can’t just rest under the assumption that the players currently on the roster will get better. In fact, Williams and the front office sound like they’re going to be active in trades and free agency:
"“There are some guys in there that we want to make sure we retain, but at the same time, we have to recognize that we have to get better. There are going to be changes.”"
How refreshing to hear, huh? I’d wager that the aforementioned outfielders (Aquino, Winker and Ervin) will be part of the team’s plans next season. But don’t be shocked if the Reds look to move Nick Senzel to the infield and find a replacement for center field. Also, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a big name corner outfielder added to the Reds roster.
While the likes of Nicolas Castellanos and Marcel Ozuna may be a bit of stretch, one could easily see the Cincinnati Reds make a run at Corey Dickerson, Avisail Garcia or Kole Calhoun (if his team option is not picked up). There are several trade options beyond these players as well.
While the Reds could just as easily give Aquino ample opportunities to be the team’s starting right fielder in 2020, it sounds as though he’s going to have to go out and earn it. Watching The Punisher over the past couple of months, I’d assume he’s up to the challenge.