2 players on the 60-day IL the Reds should release this offseason and 1 they're excited to see return

Cincinnati Reds infielder Mike Moustakas
Cincinnati Reds infielder Mike Moustakas / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds have been ravaged by injuries this season. The team is without Joey Votto, Tyler Stephenson, and Lucas Sims; all of whom were expected to play a major role in the team's success during the 2022 season.

But the aforementioned players are only three of Cincinnati's 12 players that are currently on the 60-day IL. Outside of Daniel Duarte, and maybe Connor Overton, everyone on that list is expected to miss the remainder of the 2022 season.

Justin Wilson, who's a free agent after the season, has been out since April 27th. Duarte has seen a major league field since being placed on the IL on April 17th. Stephenson was shelved almost immediately after the All-Star break resulting in his second extended stat on the IL this season.

As was mentioned, Wilson is a free agent, and it's unlikely the left-handed reliever will return to Cincinnati next season. But which players, currently on the 60-day IL, should be released during the offseason? And, is there one player that the team and fans alike can't wait to return in 2023?

Reds catcher Aramis Garcia should be released this offseason.

The Cincinnati Reds currently have six catchers on the 40-man roster. Austin Romine, who's a free agent after the 2022 season concludes, and Chuckie Robinson are the only backstops who are currently active.

Mark Kolozsvary and Michael Papierski are at Triple-A Louisville and both Tyler Stephenson and Aramis Garcia are on the 60-day IL. With Stephenson all set to return as the everyday catcher in 2023, do the Reds really need to hang on to Garcia?

The former second-round pick shined during spring training and earned his way onto the Opening Day roster. But Garcia, who'll be 30 years old next season and entering his first year of arbitration eligibility, has only posted an OPS of .516 in 106 at-bats. Kolozsvary, in very limited playing this season, has an OPS of .688 and is two years younger.

The Cincinnati Reds may also look to add Daniel Vellojin to the 40-man roster in order to protect one of their top catching prospects from the Rule 5 Draft. Aramis Garcia just doesn't seem like a long-term fit with the Reds organization, and the club has plenty of in-house options that would provide Tyler Stephenson with a serviceable backup in 2023.

Reds infielder Mike Moustakas should be released this offseason.

This one would definitely hurt Bob Castellini's wallet, but the Cincinnati Reds cannot enter the 2023 season with Mike Moustakas occupying a roster spot. The 33-year-old has made six separate trips to the injured list this season and it's time for the Reds to just cut their losses.

Moustakas, even if he returns to his All-Star form in 2023 (which is highly unlikely), will still go down as one of the worst free agent signing in the history of the Reds franchise. Only Eric Milton's deal will rival the four-year/$64M contract that Moose signed prior to the 2020 season.

Moustakas has been plagued by injuries throughout his tenure with the Cincinnati Reds. But with players like Spencer Steer, Elly De La Cruz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Matt McLain making their way up through the pipeline, Cincinnati cannot afford to allow Moustakas to take away meaningful ABs from their up-and-coming prospects.

Now, if the Reds decide to move on from Mike Moustakas, it'll cost them a lot of money. Moose is owed $18M in 2023 and has a $20M team-option for the 2024 season with a $4M buyout. If he's released, Cincinnati would owe the three-time All-Star $22M.

That's a steep price, but one the rebuilding Reds should be willing to take on in order to allow a player like Steer to try to establish himself as a major league player. Moose is little more than a left-handed hitting DH at this point in his career, and that's not something Cincinnati needs next season.

Reds fans should be excited for the return of pitcher Tejay Antone.

Captain Hook should be back on the field in 2023. Tejay Antone, who underwent his second Tommy John surgery last year, was ruled out for the entire 2022 season and the right-handed reliever has his eyes fixed on returning to diamond next season.

Antone was the Reds best reliever last season, and it wasn't really close. The right-hander owned a 2.14 ERA and had a strikeout-rate of 32.8% in 23 appearances out the Cincinnati bullpen. Antone started four games for the Reds the season before, but after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery, it seems highly unlikely he'll ever return to the rotation.

However, the 1-2 punch of Tejay Antone and Alexis Diaz in the backend of the bullpen would bring some stability to the relief corps. Reiver Sanmartin seems to be making progress as well during his rookie season.

Antone will be up for arbitration this winter, but after having not played at all during the 2022 season, it's hard to imagine the right-hander making much over the league minimum in 2023. If Antone performs up to his capabilities, then the 28-year-old could then cash in during his second and third time through the process.

There is going to be some interesting decisions for the Reds brass to make over the next few months with regards to the offseason roster. Several prospects will need to be added to the 40-man roster and a lot of dead weight will need to be cut loose. It's going to be an intriguing winter in the Queen City.