5. What do the Reds do with some of their highly-paid under-performers?
This was not the way Cincinnati envisioned their high-priced veterans to perform. The Reds received a renaissance performance from Joey Votto, who for the first time since 2017, played up to level of play his contract reflects. The same can’t be said for several of the other veteran players on the team.
The trio of Shogo Akiyama, Mike Moustakas, and Eugenio Suárez performed well below expectations. Akiyama was reduced to a defensive replacement in the outfield, Moustakas missed more than half the season and didn’t produce when he was in the lineup, and Suárez finished 2021 with a batting average below the Mendoza line.
The Reds had $32M tied up in those three players last season, and next season will see that figure rise to $35M. To have that kind of money tied up in players who combined for -2.8 WAR is staggering, and would set any franchise back. Cincinnati’s front office needs to find a creative way to get out from underneath at least one of those contracts.
It won’t be easy. I mean, who in their right mind would want to take on the $38M owed to Moose over the next two seasons? Geno is owed $33M through the 2024. Thankfully, Akiyama’s contract is up after next season. However, the Japanese outfielder is owed $8M in 2022.
The Cincinnati Reds will need to keep one of the duo of Moustakas or Suárez. Geno plays better defense at third base and finally emerged from his season-long slump during the month of September.
I just have a hard time seeing the Redlegs moving on from Mike Moustakas. Unless Cincinnati is able to finagle a trade similar to the one that shipped Homer Bailey to the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2019 season, I expect Moose to return to the Queen City in 2022.
Shogo Akiyama is the only one that I foresee being traded this season. Akiyama is owed $8M, and team who’s looking for a solid defender who has good on-base skills may be willing to take on the 33-year-old if the Reds paid a portion of his 2022 salary. Will the Reds unload any of their underperforming veterans? That’s a tough one, but I believe they’ll trade at least one.