What will the Cincinnati Reds outfield look like after the 2022 season?

Cincinnati Reds left fielder Jesse Winker (33) and centerfielder Shogo Akiyama.
Cincinnati Reds left fielder Jesse Winker (33) and centerfielder Shogo Akiyama. / David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

While the 2022 baseball season has yet to begin, we already know that this year's starting outfield for the Cincinnati Reds will look quite different from last year's. Nick Castellanos is unlikely to re-sign with Cincinnati, and four of the Reds outfielders finished on the injured list to end the 2021 season.

It's a safe bet to assume that Jesse Winker will be starting in left field for the Reds on Opening Day, but beyond that, there's little certainly heading into the 2022 season and beyond. What might Cincinnati's outfield look like beyond the upcoming season?

What does Cincinnati Reds OF look like this season?

With Winker as a virtual lock to be part of the Reds outfield in 2022, let's look at who is most likely to join him. You'd have to assume, after a solid showing during his first season in the Queen City, that Tyler Naquin will find a spot on Cincinnati's 2022 Opening Day roster.

The question is, where will Naquin line up defensively? It makes the most sense for Naquin to take over in right field for the departed Castellanos. The left-handed hitting Naquin has the arm strength to play the position defensively, and there's enough pop in that bat to offer solid contributions at the dish as well. Naquin could conceivably rack up 20-plus round trippers in 2022.

As for center field, it's a three-horse race between Nick Senzel, Shogo Akiyama, and TJ Friedl. There's no way that David Bell can consider Senzel an everyday player. Senzel's inability to stay on the field suggests that he's a part-time contributor at best. Now, if Senzel can exorcise the demons and find a way to stay healthy in 2022, his role could be expanded.

Akiyama and Friedl, both left-handed batters, will likely be jockeying for playing time throughout spring training and the regular season. Lack of playing time has been a problem for Akiyama, but when the Japanese outfielder does receive opportunities, he's done little to nothing with them.

Friedl has been part of the Cincinnati Reds organization for a long time and received his first taste of big leagues last season. Friedl has speed and enough power at the plate to warrant an opportunity to be a platoon player up the middle of the Cincinnati outfield. The question will be whether or not the Reds see Friedl able to gather enough playing time to stay in the bigs or start at Triple-A Louisville.

What will the Cincinnati Reds OF look like beyond 2022?

The future looks bright for the Cincinnati Reds outfield. Jesse Winker is under team control through the 2023 season, and could be in line for a contract extension. Nick Senzel has three years of team control remaining beyond the 2022 season. Shogo Akiyama and Tyler Naquin will both be free agents after 2022, and TJ Friedl just made his big league debut last season.

The Reds also added Allan Cerda to the 40-man roster this offseason. Though he'll start his 2022 campaign in the minor leagues, you have to believe, if he finds success, that he'll make his major league debut by 2023 at the latest. Cerda made it to High-A Dayton last season, and has posted a wRC+ above 125 at every minor league stop so far.

One look at the Cincinnati farm system should have Reds Country on pins and needles. Former first-round pick Austin Hendrick struggled during his first taste of pro ball last season. While he's likely to begin the 2022 season at Low-A Daytona, a strong showing in Florida will see the Pennsylvania high school product promoted very quickly.

Jay Allen is a stud. A three-sport athlete in high school, Allen was taken with the 30th overall selection in the 2021 MLB Draft. Allen has elite athleticism and profiles as a either a power-hitting centerfielder or an athletically-gifted right fielder.

Beyond Allan Cerda and their two highly-rated outfield prospects, the Cincinnati Reds also have Michael Siani, Justice Thompson, and two of their international signees (Ariel Almonte and Malvin Valdez) ranked among the team's top 30 prospects per MLB Pipeline.

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The future is bright for the Reds outfield. There's also the possibility that players like Rece Hinds (LF) and Mat McLain (CF) make the switch from the infield to the outfield in the coming years. Don't expect Cincinnati to invest much in free agent outfielders over the next couple of years.