Dang, this is difficult to write. But it's been even more difficult to watch. It's time for the Cincinnati Reds and Aristides Aquino to part ways. The Punisher has been awful to begin the 2022 season, and David Bell batting the outfielder second in the lineup might be worse than Aquino's on-field performance.
It's been very sad to see Aquino's fall from grace. The power-hitting outfielder surprised the entire baseball world in 2019. After the Redlegs dealt Yasiel Puig to Cleveland, Aquino became Cincinnati's everyday right fielder.
All he did was break records left and right, take home National League Player of the Month honors in August, and post 19 homers over the final month of the season. Aquino hit .259/.316/.576 in 56 games while posting a wRC+ of 117 in 225 at-bats. Aquino looked like the next big thing; a player that Reds Country could embrace. But it wasn't to be.
Instead, the Reds front office spent the offseason adding outfielders Shogo Akiyama (three-year/$21M contract) and Nick Castellanos (four-year/$64M contract) to the roster. Both moves, along with former first-round picks Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel on the roster, forced Aristides Aquino from a regular in the lineup to a reserve outfielder.
Reds OF Aristides Aquino needs to go back to the minors.
Since the 2020 season, Aquino has hit .179/.289/.372 with 12 home runs and a 37.4% strikeout-rate. Aquino has nine strikeouts in 13 plate appearances this season so far. If Aquino is Bell's answer to opposing left-handed pitchers, Reds Country is in for a long season.
Aristides Aquino is out of minor league options, meaning if the Cincinnati Reds choose to designate him for assignment, every other team will have the ability to claim The Punisher off waivers. You'd have to assume that teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks, and even the Miami Marlins might take a flier on Aquino.
Aquino's skillset cannot be denied. The 27-year-old is arguably the best defensive outfielder on the Cincinnati Reds roster. No one has a better arm than Aquino, and he has deceptive speed that allows him to track down balls on the outfield grass. The power in Aquino's bat is his loudest tool, but it does little to no good if he can't make contact.
There's a chance that Aristides Aquino could pass through waivers and accept an outright assignment to Triple-A Louisville; which is really what The Punisher needs. Being in the everyday lineup is essential to Aquino finding success, but he's not going to get that at the big league level at this time of the season.
The Cincinnati Reds have another capable outfielder in TJ Friedl at Triple-A. The rookie could be recalled to the majors, and while Friedl is a left-handed hitter, he has a good eye at the plate and is able to play all three outfield positions.
With Donovan Solano and Jose Barrero likely to return to the Cincinnati Reds lineup in the coming weeks, Aquino's time is already running out. The Reds should bite the bullet now and hope that Aquino passes through waivers.