Which four Reds players have the most to lose in the shortened 2020 season?
The 2020 Major League Baseball season is going to be like one we’ve never seen before. Not only will see the DH in the National League for the first time, but if a game goes into extra innings, each team will begin with a runner on second base. With the rule changes aside, which Cincinnati Reds players have the most to lose due to the shortened 2020 season?
Joey Votto is entering his age-36 season and had his worst statistical year of his career in 2019 with just 47 RBIs while hitting just .261 with a .357 on-base percentage and just 15 home runs. Aristides Aquino had more round trippers in two months of play than Votto did for the entire season.
Each year is one step closer to the end of what should be a Hall of Fame career. However, not being able to add a 162-game season to his statistical line could impact his sway with the voters. While there’s sure to be an asterisk attached to the 2020 season, the numbers won’t lie. Votto will be surrounded by some of the best talent of his career; it’s a shame he won’t have a full season to work with those teammates.
Speaking of Aquino, The Punisher showed a hot bat in August last year, going yard 14 times before cooling off in September. With a shortened season, Bell will likely lean on Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos playing the corner outfield spots. We might even see free agent signee Shogo Akiyama shift to the corners when Nick Senzel is the lineup.
Aquino’s poor showing in the Dominican Winter League, combined with his previous disappointment in spring training might land the 24-year-old on the taxi squad. At best, he’ll be behind fellow right-handed bench bat Phillip Ervin. Aquino’s development and confidence could take a hit in the shortened 2020 season.
Anthony Desclafani becomes a free agent at season’s end. The 30-year-old is coming off one of his best seasons, and the 31 starts proved he could stay healthy. Disco showed tremendous improvement last year, dropping his ERA more than a whole point and landing among the Top 20 in the NL in both strikeouts and earned run average.
The free agent market this winter will be one for the ages, and not in a good way. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic will reverberate through front offices around the league. Teams will be hesitant to spend big this coming offseason; something we saw the Reds do this past winter. DeSclafani will also only have about 10 starts to make an impact. That’s not a lot for starter with his track record.
Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati’s first-round selection in 2015, might take a huge hit in terms of development this season. Stephenson was likely headed for Triple-A Louisville with a September call-up looming.
After failed attempts to land the likes of JT Realmuto and Yasmani Grandal, it appears that the Reds are focused on the 6-foot-4, 23-year-old to be hanging the signs for the future. Stephenson played in just 89 games last year and was showing improvement on the offensive side of the ball hitting.285 with a .372 on-base percentage.
Stephenson then showcased his talent late last year in the Arizona Fall League, slashing .347/.418/.490. The right-handed hitting backstop carried that success into spring training as well. Stephenson slashed .375/.500/.750 with seven RBIs in 16 at-bats. Stephenson will likely be on the taxi squad, and could be part of three-man road crew that must include one catcher.
While the shortened 2020 season will not see Aquino or DeSclafani or Stephenson out of job next fall, the financial and developmental impact will be felt by those three players. The impact on Joey Votto’s career will be more in terms of legacy.