One of the most interesting decisions the Cincinnati Reds coaching staff will have to make in the coming days is who serves on the team's bench. With the starting infield and outfield set, the Reds Opening Day roster is becoming clearer by the minute. But one player has been painfully awful at the plate and in the field; Colin Moran.
Moran was signed to a one-year/$1M deal this spring, and the team's preliminary plan was to platoon the former Pittsburgh Pirates infielder with Donovan Solano depending on the pitching matchup. Solano crushes left-handed pitchers and Moran has had moderate success versus right-handers during his career.
While evaluating a player strictly based on how they perform in spring training is foolish, it can give you some insight. Based on Moran's 1-for-17 performance in Cactus League play and his defensive miscues at third base, the 29-year-old has no business being on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster.
Colin Moran should not be on the Reds Opening Day roster.
To be fair, it's not as if the Cincinnati Reds inked Colin Moran to a monster contract. Furthermore, I don't think anyone expects Moran to a be key piece of the Cincinnati lineup in 2022. But there are other players on the roster who offer far better defense and even better numbers at the plate.
I understand that Moran is a left-handed bat with pop whom the Reds can insert into the lineup as the team's DH against right-handed pitchers. Moran slashed .288./352/.432 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs versus right-handers in 2021. For his career, Moran has a .780 OPS versus right-handed pitching.
But if the Reds are just looking for someone to platoon with Solano when the former San Francisco Giants infielder returns from the Injured List, they're better off with a player like Max Schrock or even Jake Bauers. While Bauers' splits aren't vastly different, Schrock hit .304/.342/.470 off right-handed pitchers in 2021. Plus, the 27-year-old has been one of the team's best hitters this spring.
If it's a forgone conclusion that Joey Votto, Jonathan India, Kyle Farmer, Tyler Naquin, Nick Senzel, Mike Moustakas, Tommy Pham, and Tyler Naquin will be the starting eight on a regular basis, then that leaves five, maybe six spots on the Reds bench. One of those spots will go to the backup catcher, whoever that may be, and we know Jake Fraley will be on the team.
With three, possibly four spots remaining, David Bell has stressed the need for a backup shortstop with both Jose Barrero and Donovan Solano slated to begin the year on the IL. Brandon Drury most likely claims that spot.
We're now down to the nitty gritty. Aristides Aquino provides a right-handed power bat, something the Cincinnati Reds are lacking with the absence of Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suárez, so he's in. If the Reds plan to carry 15 pitchers, only spot remains, and that has to go to Max Schrock, right?
We may be looking a competition between Colin Moran and Shogo Akiyama for the final spot on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. Believe it or not, Akiyama actually had reverse splits last season, something that may not play in his favor. But Akiyama is owed $8M this season, and that may greatly affect the way Cincinnati selects its 28 players for the Opening Day roster.