3. Tyler Naquin, Reds outfielder
With David Bell proclaiming that Nick Senzel is his everyday centerfielder heading into the 2021 season, it would appear that four spots in the Cincinnati Reds outfield are solidified heading into the season. Senzel, Nick Castellanos, Shogo Akiyama, and Jesse Winker have a stranglehold on four of the five outfield spots. Will Tyler Naquin snag the last one?
Naquin is a boom-or-bust type of player. The left-handed hitting outfielder can mash a baseball, as evidence by his hard-hit percentage (51.6) which ranked among the Top 7% last season according Baseball Savant. But his 3.5% walk-rate was among the bottom 3% in the league last year.
Tyler Naquin will be in a battle with another boom-or-bust type of player in Aristides Aquino. The Punisher hasn’t been able to sustain the level of production that made him a household name in August of 2019 when he took home NL Player of the Month honors.
From a defensive perspective, I’d lean towards Aquino seven days a week and twice on Sunday. Aquino has put in the work this offseason and is looking to emerge from a bench role and perhaps find a spot in the lineup on a more regular basis. That’ll be hard to do with the current roster of talented and highly-paid outfielders.
Tyler Naquin is far from a lock to make the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster, however, the 29-year-old has two minor league options remaining. I could envision a scenario where the Reds stash Naquin on the active roster for thee first couple of games and eventually option him to Triple-A Louisville.
This would allow the team to keep both Naquin and Aquino (who’s out of options) within the organization. In order to do so, Cincinnati could put together a bench of Aquino, Naquin, Akiyama/ Senzel, Tyler Stephenson, and Dee-Strange Gordon/ Kyle Farmer to begin the 2021 season. The Reds could also go light in the bullpen, but I don’t think that’s in the cards.