Evaluating the Reds right field options for the 2022 season

Cincinnati Reds right fielder Tyler Naquin (12) returns to the dugout.
Cincinnati Reds right fielder Tyler Naquin (12) returns to the dugout. / Meg Vogel via Imagn Content Services,

It's starting to feel like a foregone conclusion that Tyler Naquin will be the Cincinnati Reds starting right fielder on Opening Day next season. Are there any other options the Reds might consider? Is there any hope to re-sign Nick Castellanos?

Let's address the possibility of re-signing Castellanos, shall we? I give the Reds about a 10% chance of bringing Castellanos back to the Queen City. The slugger enjoyed a career-year in 2021, but Castellanos wants to win.

The Reds front office and ownership, however, appear to be content with shedding salary after waiving Wade Miley and trading Tucker Barnhart. Castellanos is reportedly seeking a seven-to-eight year commitment and a nine-figure salary. I doubt the Reds are going to pay.

Who will be the Reds starting right fielder in 2022?

Much like Nick Castellanos, Tyler Naquin enjoyed a career-year in 2021. The left-handed hitting slugger subbed in for the injured Nick Senzel in center field throughout most of last season and hit .270/.333/.477 with 19 home runs and a wRC+ of 110.

Naquin is not a superior defender, but he's quite capable and would represent an upgrade over Castellanos in right field. His above-average speed and above-average arm would be more than sufficient in right field next season.

As far as internal options go, the only other player who makes sense in right field is Aristides Aquino. After Yasiel Puig was dealt to Cleveland midway through the 2019 season, Aquino became the Reds starting right fielder over the final two months of the season.

The Punisher put on a show in August of 2019, but has done little since. To be fair, Aquino has had little consistency when it comes to playing time since the Cincinnati front office beefed up the team's outfield prior to the 2020 season with the additions of Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama.

I could easily see a scenario where the Cincinnati Reds platoon Tyler Naquin and Aristides Aquino in right field next season. Naquin didn't get a ton of ABs against left-handed pitching, but when a southpaw was on the bump, Naquin only hit .196. Only one of his 19 round trippers came against left-handed pitching.

Aquino has immeasurable power. Despite hitting below the Mendoza line and owning an on-base percentage below .300 in 2021, Aquino still posted an OPS of .707 because of his .404 slugging percentage. The Punisher crushed 10 homers in 204 plate appearances.

There's an outside chance that the Cincinnati Reds bring back Nick Castellanos, especially after the Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants (two teams rumored to be in the market for the All-Star slugger) appear to have changed direction.

Next. Evaluating the Reds CF options for the 2022 season. dark

In the end, however, I'd expect Tyler Naquin to get the lion's share of starts in right field for the Reds next season. If Aquino can impress the coaching staff in spring training, he may sneak his way onto the roster as well. There are also several free agent outfielders that Cincinnati could look to sign after the MLB lockout is over.