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Reds: Aristides Aquino does not receive passing grade for 2021 season

CINCINNATI, OHIO - AUGUST 22: Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds sits in the dugout. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - AUGUST 22: Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds sits in the dugout. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
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Have we seen the last swing from Aristides Aquino in a Cincinnati Reds uniform? It’s possible. The 27-year-old was unable to attain a fourth minor-league option prior to the start of the season, and that really was a shame, because The Punisher seemed overmatched at the big league level in 2021.

Aquino, who turned 27 this season, spent the early part of the 2021 season on the 60-day IL with a broken hamate bone. Aquino rehabbed, returned to the club in June, but never received consistent playing time. His performance suffered because of it.

On the season, Aristides Aquino hit just .190/.299/.408 with 10 home runs and 23 RBIs. Essentially, Aquino was the outfield version of Eugenio Suárez; big-time power, but was unable to push his average above .200.

Grading Aristides Aquino’s 2021 season with the Reds.

Aristides Aquino looked like the next big thing in Cincinnati after dismantling opposing pitchers during August of 2019. The Punisher became a household name, smashing records that stood for decades, and earning Player of the Month honors for his 14 home run, 33 RBI performance in August of 2019.

But the wheels fell off in September, and it’s been a downhill slide ever since for The Punisher. I firmly believe that one of the biggest obstacles that Aquino has faced since his dominance in 2019 is not how opposing teams are pitching him, but rather inconsistent playing time.

When the Cincinnati Reds acquired both Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama prior to the 2020 season, it became apparent that the front office didn’t see Aquino as the everyday right fielder. Despite see Aquino put up a slash line of .259/.316/.576 in 225 plate appearances during 2019, the front office was not convinced.

With a starting outfield of Castellanos, Jesse Winker, and Nick Senzel in 2020, Aquino’s opportunities were limited. Add to that same group former Cleveland Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin, and Aquino was fortunate to even be on the Opening Day roster.

Aristides Aquino has seen his strikeout-rate rise every season since coming to the big leagues. There’s a lot of pop in that bat, but there’s a lot of strikeouts as well. Aquino posted a 36.8% K-rate in 2021. On the plus side, his walk-rate ticked up from 10.7% in 2020 to 13.2% in 2021.

Aquino will be an interesting player to keep an eye on this winter. Could Aquino be traded? Will Cincinnati non-tender him? Or, with the uncertain future of Nick Castellanos and Nick Senzel, will the Reds front office hang onto Aquino for one more spring, hoping to get the most out of The Punisher?

Next. Answering the Reds biggest questions of the offseason

Time will tell, but as far as grading Aristides Aquino in 2021, I have to give him a D. While his lack of playing time certainly hampered his opportunity to succeed, you’ve got to make the most of the chances you’re given. Aquino didn’t do that, and it may cost him a roster spot next season.

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