3 players the Cincinnati Reds should cut before Opening Day, but won't

Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shogo Akiyama (4) bats.
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shogo Akiyama (4) bats. / David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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We're a little less than one week away from Opening Day, and the Cincinnati Reds roster is beginning to take shape. It was recently reported that Tony Santillan would be starting the 2022 season, which seems to open the door for both Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo to be part of the starting rotation.

But while fans are bound to be excited about the additions of the two rookie pitchers, there are few players who might be undeservingly included on Cincinnati's Opening Day roster. While service time manipulation is not part of the equation, some hefty contracts or past success might keep a handful of players lingering around longer than they should.

Hanging on to a select few players while others within the organization have performed well during spring training sends a bad message to the rest of the players in the clubhouse. Who are some of the players the Cincinnati Reds should cut prior to Opening Day, but won't?

1. Reds OF Shogo Akiyama should be cut before Opening Day.

It's time to say goodbye to Shogo Akiyama. If the Cincinnati Reds are not going to give the former Japanese star an opportunity to be an everyday contributor to the team, then ownership should just eat the remaining $8M on Akiyama's contract.

Signing Tommy Pham to a one-year/$7.5M contract was basically the final nail in Akiyama's coffin. The Reds starting outfield consists of Pham, Nick Senzel, and Tyler Naquin. Jake Fraley should be the first player off the bench, and even be in the starting lineup when a left-hander is on the bump.

Beyond that, the Reds have the up-and-coming TJ Friedl. The rookie may begin the 2022 season at Triple-A Louisville, but if an injury were to befall any of the starting outfielders, Friedl would undoubtedly get the call.

While we can bemoan the lack of opportunities Shogo Akiyama has received since coming to the Cincinnati Reds, it's painfully clear that his style of play does not translate to today's game. Still, given that Akiyama is owed $8M this season, one could easily see the Reds optioning both Fraley and Friedl to Triple-A and give the 33-year-old one last chance to prove himself.

Cincinnati Reds infielder Colin Moran (16) gets set for a pitch during a spring training game.
Cincinnati Reds infielder Colin Moran (16) gets set for a pitch during a spring training game. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

2. Reds IF Colin Moran should be cut before Opening Day.

Sorry, I just don't get it! If the Cincinnati Reds were to sign Colin Moran to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, I could wrap my head around that. But a $1M major league deal for a player who's been little more than average throughout his career is too much of a commitment.

For his six-year career, Moran is worth 0.1bWAR. Yes, against right-handed pitching in 2021 Moran posted a .785 OPS. But Moran plays absolutely atrocious defense at third base. Moran is worth -27 defensive runs saves while playing third base and spent just 36 innings fielding that position over the past two seasons.

If the Reds brought in Moran, specifically to be a designated hitter versus right-handed pitchers, I can somewhat wrap my mind around that. But, if there's even a hint that Moran is going to be playing the infield in any capacity other than giving Joey Votto an occasional day off at first base, this is a mistake.

If Colin Moran is part of the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster and Max Schrock is optioned to Triple-A Louisville, the front office is flat-out wrong. I don't believe Moran will be on the Reds roster once Jose Barrero has returned from injury, but to be honest, he doesn't belong on the roster in the first place.

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino runs out of the batters' box.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino runs out of the batters' box. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

3. Reds OF Aristides Aquino should be cut before Opening Day.

I'm not as bullish on the Cincinnati Reds releasing Aristides Aquino as I am the other two players mentioned, but it still seems like something that should happen, right? Aquino, just like Shogo Akiyama, is not going to be a regular in the Reds lineup.

Some critics like to refer to Aquino as a one-trick pony, but I think that's being a bit harsh. While the slugger can't seem to hit a breaking ball to save his life, Aquino is an above-average defender with a cannon for an arm.

Aquino flashed so much potential over the final two months of the 2019 season, but the presence of Nick Castellanos in the Cincinnati lineup robbed The Punisher of any chance he may have had to be the Reds everyday right fielder. Instead, Aquino became a part-time player and was little more than a rotational outfielder over the past two seasons.

Aristides Aquino is out of minor league options. That means, if the Reds don't include him on their Opening Day roster, he'll be available for all 29 teams to claim. I don't think the Reds are ready to let a power bat like that walk out the door for nothing.

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Even though the team should probably let Aquino go, I think he'll be part of the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. It's going to be a tight competition between Aquino and Akiyama, but I think the right-handed power bat of The Punisher wins out.