The Cincinnati Reds did the right thing by recalling shortstop Jose Barrero on Wednesday. According to Reds manager David Bell, Barrero will get a long look at shortstop over the next couple of months while Kyle Farmer's playing time will come mostly at third base.
It's now time for the Reds to do the right thing again. TJ Friedl has been absolutely tearing up the competition at Triple-A and it's time to allow the 26-year-old to get some regular playing time in the big leagues. Since July 1st, Friedl is hitting .351/.383/.571 and a wRC+ of 151 according to FanGraphs.
The question, however, is how do the Reds shuffle the roster in order to get Friedl's bat back in the lineup. Well, Cincinnati has two options, and neither one will be well received by most of the fanbase.
TJ Friedl should replace Albert Almora or Matt Reynolds in the Reds lineup.
For those Reds fans clamoring for TJ Friedl to replace Aristides Aquino, your opinion is valid. However, Cincinnati Reds General Manager Nick Krall does not share your disgust for Aquino. In fact, everyone throughout Reds Country should buckle up and prepare for The Punisher to be Cincinnati's everyday right fielder through the end of the season.
Unfortunately, if the Reds are to get Friedl's bat into the lineup, it's going to come at the expense of one of their veterans. While cutting ties with Mike Moustakas makes the most sense, the $22M-plus remaining on his contract through next season takes that transaction off the table.
It comes down to Albert Almora or Matt Reynolds - take your pick. While fans love Almora's glove in center field, the majority of his games played have come in right field. In Almora's last 55 at-bats, the 28-year-old is hitting just .145/.190/.200.
Looking at Reynolds' stat line will bring a bit more optimism as the infielder is hitting .270/.341/.297 in his last 15 appearances. Both Almora and Reynolds have had their moments during the 2022 season, both are right-handed hitters, both are under team control through next season, and neither have any minor league options remaining.
Here's the difference though, Almora is entering his final year of arbitration while Reynolds is still pre-arbitration eligible despite being three years older. In effect, it would be much cheaper to keep Reynolds around next season than it would be to hang on to Almora.
Seeing as how Almora and Friedl are both outfielders, the Cincinnati Reds could simply designate the former Chicago Cubs centerfielder for assignment and recall Friedl from Triple-A Louisville.
Albert Almora has filled in admirably at different points throughout the season, but if the last two months of 2022 are about developing players for the future, then it's time for TJ Friedl to be back in the big leagues.