Reds: Is it too early to trade outfielder Shogo Akiyama?

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds walks in the dugout. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds walks in the dugout. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds are facing a problem with centerfielder Shogo Akiyama. While it’s not necessarily a bad problem to have, the situation with the Reds’ outfielder is a problem nonetheless. Should the Reds trade Shogo Akiyama midway through his second season with the club?

The question is definitely worth asking when you see the amount of time Akiyama has played, or should I say hasn’t played, this season. With the hot starts at the plate by fellow outfielders Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos this season, it has been very hard for Akiyama to find any playing time.

Fellow left-handed hitting outfielder Tyler Naquin’s power bat has also choked out any potential starts Akiyama may have been due against right-handed hurlers. There’s just no room in the Cincinnati outfield for all the talent currently on this team.

Is it too soon for the Reds to trade Shogo Akiyama?

Though he began the season on the injured list, Akiyama still only has 39 plate appearances on the season while appearing in just 21 games. His batting average sits at .179, with only 4 RBIs in his brief number of appearances at the plate.

It’s an unfortunate situation for the Cincinnati Reds and Shogo Akiyama. Akiyama is in the second year of this three-year/$21M contract he signed prior to last season. With COVID-19 shortening the 2020 season and his injury to start this season, it feels like Akiyama couldn’t have had a worse start to his MLB career. Maybe a fresh start is exactly what he needs.

With the Reds owing Akiyama $8M next season, the team has to be looking at viable trade options if he doesn’t see more playing time within the next month, and may need to eat some of that remaining salary in order to make a move.

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While the situation isn’t volatile, it has been disappointing for fans hoping to see Shogo Akiyama have his breakout season inn 2021. The Reds are fortunate enough not to have to rush this situation, but something should be done sooner rather than later, especially with the excellent start of Tyler Naquin and the imminent returns of Nick Senzel and Aristides Aquino.