Reds: Aristides Aquino to 60-day IL allows more time to declutter outfield

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 13: Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds bats. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 13: Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds bats. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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The Cincinnati Reds placed outfielder Aristides Aquino on the 60-day injured list and moved pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez from the restricted list to the 40-man roster. Aquino had originally been placed on the 10-day IL after suffering a broken hamate bone.

Aquino’s placement on the 60-day IL will give David Bell and the Reds front office some more time to figure out how they plan to proceed with this year’s outfield. Shogo Akiyama, who’s still on the 10-day IL, will likely return in the next couple weeks. Aquino has no minor league options remaining, but putting him on the 60-day IL will delay any future roster decisions for now.

Without Aristides Aquino, the Reds still have a crowded outfield.

Moving Aristides Aquino from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL doesn’t really help declutter the crowded Reds outfield. Nick Castellanos is going nowhere, Jesse Winker has been the Reds most productive bat so far, Nick Senzel has been heating up of late, and Tyler Naquin is second on the team with six home runs.

The Reds need to find four outfielders they’re comfortable with heading into the heat of the summer. Given their contracts and early-season production, I think it’s fair to say that Castellanos and Winker check two of the four boxes.

Senzel, being a former first-round pick, will get a long look, and provided he stays healthy, I expect the 25-year-old to get plenty of playing time in center field. That narrows it down to Akiyama and Naquin. Mark Payton is also a possibility, but he’s more than likely ticketed for Triple-A once Akiyama returns from injury.

There’s one problem in keeping both Tyler Naquin and Shogo Akiyama.

Given David Bell’s penchant for double-switches and playing the matchups late in games, I find it hard to believe that the Reds skipper would carry two left-handed hitting reserve outfielders. Payton wouldn’t enter the mix, as he hits from the left side as well.

The only right-handed option Bell could turn to would be Aristides Aquino upon his return from the 60-day IL. Who knows what condition the Cincinnati outfield will be in when The Punisher returns in about two months?

What we may see from Bell would be keeping both Kyle Farmer and Alex Blandino as the team’s utility infielders. Both are right-handed batters who are capable of playing all over the infield. We’ve even seen Blandino take some reps in the outfield and Farmer played left field last season as well. This would keep the left-handed hitting Max Schrock at Triple-A Louisville.

A realistic look at the Cincinnati Reds roster would reveal that the team has five regulars you can bank on night-in and night-out; Winker, Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Jonathan India, and Joey Votto. Eugenio Suárez should be among the group as well, but his current slump has a lot of fans wondering about Geno’s standing with the team.

The Reds catchers, Tucker Barnhart and Tyler Stephenson, will continue to platoon, and Senzel will get the lion’s share of starts in center field. When Akiyama returns, Bell’s biggest task will be giving both he and Naquin adequate playing time while not taking too many reps away from Senzel.

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David Bell has a problem, but it’s a good one to have. With Aquino out of the mix for the next two months or so, the Cincinnati Reds manager has several more weeks to see who his most reliable players are in 2021 before having to make some unenviable roster decisions.