3 big questions the Reds must answer ahead of the upcoming deadlines

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Mike Moustakas.
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Mike Moustakas. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Will the Reds release Mike Moustakas?

This has been a question for the last several months. After Mike Moustakas signed a franchise record free agent deal back in 2019, the three-time All-Star has been a shell of his former self. Whether it can be attirbuted to injuries, conditioning, age, or simply poor production, the bottom line is that Moose hasn't lived up to the four-year/$64M contract he signed prior to the 2020 season.

The Reds owe Moustakas $18M in salary next year and another $4M in order to buyout his team-option for the 2024 season. In essence, if the Reds decide to release Moose, they'll be paying him $22M to play elsewhere in 2023.

In 2022, fans saw the club do what it rarely ever does. Cincinnati paid Shogo Akiyama $8M to play elsewhere. The former Reds outfielder didn't make the club out of spring training and Cincinnati released the former Japanese star ahead of last year's Opening Day.

The Chicago Cubs just released longtime outfielder Jason Heyward despite the fact he still had one year remaining on his contract. The Cubbies will owe Heyward $22M and he'll enter the free agent market, likely looking for a one-year "prove it" deal with another team.

Keeping Mike Moustakas would mean that the Cincinnati Reds care more about money than they do about acutally developing young players. Next year's team will not be competing for the NL Central crown, and keeping Moose around will only steal playing time from young players like Spencer Steer and Alejo Lopez. Will the Reds bite the bullet and release Moustakas?