Cincinnati Reds: 3 players most affected if universal DH is eliminated

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Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds walks back to the dugout holding a broken bat after striking out.

PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 05: Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds walks back to the dugout holding a broken bat after striking out. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

1. Jesse Winker, Reds outfielder

Let’s be honest, the role of designated hitter really fits Jesse Winker quite well. Winker is a far better hitter than a fielder. He led the team in OPS (.932) this past season and was the team’s DH in 35 of the 48 games in which he started. Winker drew just 13 starts in the Reds outfield, with only one coming in place of Nick Castellanos in right field.

If Castellanos opts to remain in Cincinnati next season, Winker will be battling for playing time with Shogo Akiyama and Aristides Aquino in left field. Seeing as how Akiyama is up for a Gold Glove in his first major league season, it stands to reason that Cincinnati may be better off with Winker on the bench rather than in the field.

That said, you can’t let Winker’s bat wallow on the pine following the abysmal showing of Cincinnati hitters this past season. Castellanos is not a platoon player and Winker proved he can actually hit left-handed pitching. So what’s David Bell to do?

In terms of an outfield platoon, the group of Aquino, Akiyama and Nick Senzel would be an adequate enough trio to allow Bell to send out two of those three players each day depending on which matchup is more favorable. The combination of Aquino and Akiyama could rotate in left field while Akiyama and Senzel could platoon in center. But what about Jesse Winker?

This could lead to a big question heading into the offseason. Should the Reds look to trade Winker this winter? His career-OPS of .859 suggests he’s an above-average hitter, but his inability to stay healthy and below-average defense limit his role as an everyday player who’s likely to receive a pay raise in the range of $2M-$3.4M according to MLB Trade Rumors.

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