Did the Reds just acquire Joey Votto's successor in their trade with the Twins?

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) walks off the field.
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) walks off the field. / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Several Cincinnati Reds fans would like to see catcher Tyler Stephenson eventually replace Joey Votto at first base once the future Hall of Famer decides to hang up his cleats. But did the Reds recent trade with the Minnesota Twins provide Cincinnati with an alternative?

The Reds traded Tyler Mahle to the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday and in return received two infield prospects (Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand) and a left-handed pitching prospect (Steve Hajjar). All three now rank among the Top 30 within the Reds farm system according to MLB Pipeline.

Steer looks ready to contribute in the big leagues already after posting three consecutive minor league seasons with an average OPS of .846 and 48 home runs. But Encarnacion-Strand has the ability to be a sneaky good acquisition on the part of the Reds.

Will newest Reds prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand succeed Joey Votto at 1B?

Christian Encarnacion-Strand was the Minnesota Twins fourth-round pick in last year's draft. After crushing the competition at Low-A last season with a 1.022 OPS, the Twins decided to send Encarnacion-Strand to High-A to begin his 2022 campaign.

It was more of the same for the 22-year-old who hit .296/.370/.599 and racked up 20 round trippers 68 RBIs in 74 games before being promoted to Double-A shortly before his trade to Cincinnati. In 13 games for the Wichita Wind Surge, Minnesota's Double-A affiliate, Encarnacion-Strand slashed .333/400/.685 with five home runs and 17 runs batted in.

The numbers suggest that Encarnacion-Strand has big-time power and an eye for the strike zone. It's not out of the ordinary to see a player with that type of in-game power have a strikeout-rate above 30%, but Encarnacion-Strand's K-rate is just above 25% while also maintaining a walk-rate of 8.7%.

The biggest knock on Christian Encarnacion-Strand is his defense. Encarnacion-Strand played almost exclusively at first base during his first professional season with the Twins but Minnesota decided to give him a chance at third base this season. The results have not been good.

Encarnacion-Strand has 23 errors on the season between High-A and Double-A while playing third base. Being that it's his first season at the hot corner, perhaps he should receive a little bit of slack. But just because Encarnacion-Strand has the ability to play third base doesn't mean he should.

The Cincinnati Reds have never looked to develop a successor for Joey Votto, and with his being under contract through 2023, why should they? But with Votto's impending exit from Cincinnati just around the corner, it would be wise to find a first baseman for the future. While many fans want to see Tyler Stephenson in that role, Christian Encarnacion-Strand might be a better fit.

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