Reds decision to non-tender Aristides Aquino is more difficult than you might think

Cincinnati Reds right fielder Aristides Aquino (44)
Cincinnati Reds right fielder Aristides Aquino (44) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Aristides Aquino blasted a home run while playing for the Tigres De Licey of the Dominican Winter League on Wednesday night. Aquino's first round tripper of the DOWL was quite impressive, as is the case with most of his homers.

But there's more to baseball than just blasting big flies on a semi-regular basis. Aquino, in 80 games last season for the Cincinnati Reds, slashed just .197/.246/.363 and finished with 10 home runs and 101 strikeouts.

Aquino, however, because of his cannon for an arm in right field, still managed to put up a bWAR of 1.4 in 2022 despite an OPS+ of just 63. This brings up an interesting question; what should the Reds do with Aquino this offseason?

The Reds decision to non-tender Aristides Aquino is more difficult than you think.

A good section of Reds fans who've seen Aristides Aquino's performance over the last three-plus seasons are ready for Cincinnati to just move on. With Aquino up for arbitration this year and estimated to take home $1.6M according to MLB Trade Rumors, there's a real chance that the Reds could decide to non-tender The Punisher this offseason.

But there's a little more to it than that. Cincinnati has little to nothing in terms of an everyday outfielder in the upper-minor leagues and the front office is unlikely to spend much in free agency this winter.

If the Cincinnati Reds made the decision to non-tender Aquino in coming weeks, who would be the team's starting right fielder on Opening Day? While Stuart Fairchild, TJ Friedl, and Jake Fraley all showed flashes in 2022, none of the trio have the type of arm that Aquino does nor have they proven to be little more than a platoon outfielder.

With such a small number in terms of salary, don't be surprised if the Reds keep Aquino through the winter and install the 28-year-old as the team's starting right fielder during spring training. If another young outfielder proves capable of taking the job away from The Punisher, then Cincinnati really hasn't lost much at all.

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