Cincinnati Reds: Aristides Aquino has an uphill climb to make the roster

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 28: Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds bats during a game. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 28: Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds bats during a game. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds have an extremely crowded outfield. Such was the case last season as well. However, after adding Shogo Akiyama and Nick Castellanos last winter, the team also has Dee Strange-Gordon, Scott Heineman, Tyler Naquin, and Mark Payton in the mix. Will Aristides Aquino even be on the roster in 2021?

Aquino was on top of the mountain in August of 2019, but it’s been all downhill from there for the Reds outfielder. Since smacking 14 home runs during his first month of big league action, Aquino has not seen the same opportunities, nor has he seen the same production.

Aristides Aquino must make an impression during Reds spring training.

This year’s roster will be even tougher to predict than last year’s. Outside of the shortstop position, I think it’s fair to say that the starting lineup is set. Akiyama, Castellanos, Eugenio Suárez, Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas, Tucker Barnhart, and Jesse Winker all figure to be regulars on David Bell’s lineup card. Nick Senzel will see plenty of time as well.

That leaves Aristides Aquino in a battle for a spot on the Reds bench, two of which will be claimed by Tyler Stephenson and either Senzel or Akiyama. So, if the Reds roll with eight relievers, that leaves just three spots remaining on the Opening Day roster. I don’t really like The Punisher’s chances.

David Bell spoke to Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Reds skipper sounded upbeat about what he’s hoping to see from Aquino this spring. Here’s what Bell had to say via Nightengale’s Twitter account:

"“I talked to him yesterday. He came into the office and just really determined, motivated, kind of a mission. He felt great about the work that he put in this offseason.”"

If Aquino has any hopes of making the Reds roster out of spring training, he had better step his game up during workouts and Cactus League play. Since that explosive month of August back in 2019, Aquino is 28-for-149 (.188) with just seven home runs.

Will Aristides Aquino make the Reds Opening Day roster?

There are a few things that tip the scales in Aquino’s favor. Tyler Naquin and Mark Payton, two players with whom Aquino will be battling for the final spot in the Cincinnati outfield, are both left-handed hitters. The Reds have a plethora of left-handed batters (Votto, Moustakas, Akiyama, Winker, and Barnhart) and may need another right-handed power-bat to even things out.

Aquino, unlike Payton and Heineman, is out of minor-league options. That means if Aquino doesn’t make the 26-man roster out of camp, the team must put him on waivers, meaning that every other major league team will have the opportunity to claim him. Given Aquino’s power, speed, and defensive ability, it’s a good bet several teams look to add him to their roster.

After the 2019 season closed, it looked as though Aristides Aquino would be occupying right field for the Reds heading into the 2020 season. The opportunity arose for the team to snag Nick Castellanos and he was promptly given the starting spot in right field.

Votto's spot in the lineup will make him dangerous. Next

If Aquino makes the cut, he’ll be relegated to a bench. With Castellanos able to opt out of his current deal after the season, it’d be wise to keep Aquino around as insurance heading into the 2022 season. No matter what, this spring is crucial for The Punisher.