Does Albert Almora Jr. have a future in the Reds outfield?

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Albert Almora Jr.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Albert Almora Jr. / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Last season, we saw Tyler Naquin parlay a minor-league deal into a major league contract. Will we see the same thing from Albert Almora Jr. in 2022? The former Chicago Cubs outfielder has been a terrific addition to the Cincinnati Reds outfield.

With Nick Senzel back in the lineup, Almora Jr. has seen some of his playing disappear of late, but David Bell obviously values the former first-round pick's defense enough to play him out in left field.

Almora Jr. blasted his first home run of the season this past weekend against the San Francisco Giants. With Tommy Pham sidelined with a three-game suspension, Almora Jr. went 4-for-11 in his stead with four RBIs in the Reds' series against the Giants.

Albert Almora Jr. has carved out a role with the Reds in 2022.

Albert Almora Jr. has always been known as a defense-first outfielder, but he's been red-hot at the plate this season as well. Almora Jr. is hitting .326/.340/.457 with three doubles and eight RBIs. The 28-year-old has brought some life to bottom-third of the Cincinnati Reds lineup.

While Nick Senzel has had a fabulous start to the 2022 season on the defensive side of things, Almora Jr. has been his usual reliable self while patrolling the outfield grass. According to Baseball Savant, Senzel has 3 outs above average and Almora Jr. has 1. Of course, Almora Jr. has played in 10 fewer games than Senzel so far this season.

With Tommy Pham likely to return tonight versus the Boston Red Sox, it'll be interesting to see how David Bell sets his lineup. Almora Jr. has a great track record against Boston's starting pitcher, Michael Wacha, so it's conceivable to assume we'll see the former first-round pick in left field and Pham occupying the DH role versus the Red Sox on Tuesday night.

Going forward, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibilities to see Albert Almora Jr. give Nick Senzel a night off from the field on occasion. With Senzel's injury history, giving the University of Tennessee alum the occasional night off or allowing him to be the Reds designated hitter could help keep him on the field.

Almora Jr. is under team control through the 2023 season, so if he remains with the Cincinnati Reds heading into the offseason, the front office will have an interesting question on their hands; will the team enter arbitration with the Florida native? Might the Reds trade Almora Jr. at this year's trade deadline?

For now, I'm sure the Reds are content to just allow the 2022 season to play out and enjoy the bounce-back season from one of the better defensive outfielders in the game. Albert Almora Jr. has carved out a nice role for himself with Cincinnati this season.

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