Who is 'Donnie Barrels' and how will the Reds use him in 2022?
By Drew Koch
Donovan Solano, AKA 'Donnie Barrels', signed a one-year/$4.5M contract with the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday. Solano is a skilled hitter with defensive versatility. Solano gives the Redlegs a right-handed bat they sorely need.
One look at Solano's history and Reds fans are sure to question why Cincinnati needs another utility player. The addition of the designated hitter, plus the way team's approach today's game is far different than it was 20 years ago.
How will the Reds use Donovan Solano in 2022?
Donovan Solano spent the last three seasons in the Bay Area putting up solid numbers for the San Francisco Giants. From 2019-2021, Solano appeared in 236 games and hit .308/.354/.435 with a wRC+ of 111 and an OPS+ of 113. The bottom line is, 'Donnie Barrels' can hit! That's something the Cincinnati Reds sorely need heading into the 2022 season.
Cincinnati has waved goodbye to Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, and Eugenio Suárez, which effectively takes away 89 home runs and 250 RBIs from last year's squad. Yikes! Now, Solano will obviously not be able to account for that type of run production on his own, but he can sure help.
More than his .280/.344/.404 slash line in 2021, Solano was very good against left-handed pitching. Last season, Solano hit .301/.344/.478 against southpaws, so Reds fans should expect to see the 34-year-old in the lineup routinely versus left-handed pitching.
As for where Solano lines up defensively, look for the former Giants' infielder to line up at second base, third base, and even shortstop. There's also a possibility, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, that Solano plays left field. The Reds could always use Solano as a designated hitter as well, especially against lefties.
No, the addition of Donovan Solano isn't a flashy signing, but it's a major league signing nonetheless; something we hadn't seen from the Cincinnati Reds front office all offseason to this point. The Reds infield now has solid depth at every position, and adding 'Donnie Barrels' gives David Bell lots of options with the addition of the designated hitter this season.