This Reds player will earn a huge bump in playing time after Noelvi Marte suspension

Next man up.

Cincinnati Reds Noelvi Marte, Christian Encarnacion-Strand
Cincinnati Reds Noelvi Marte, Christian Encarnacion-Strand / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

By now every Reds fan has heard the disappointing news that Noelvi Marte was slapped with an 80-game suspension after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Marte will also be ineligible for any postseason games if the Reds make it to the playoffs in 2024.

Thankfully the Cincinnati Reds signed Jeimer Candelario and hung on to Jonathan India; both questionable decisions at the time. Both Candelario and India will see an increase in playing time, and the former is now predicted to be the Reds everyday third baseman to begin the upcoming season.

But while Candelario and India will see an uptick in playing time, no player will see a more dramatic change in his role than Christian Encarnacion-Strand. The former Minnesota Twins farmhand is poised to breakout in 2024, and the increased playing time afford to Encarnacion-Strand because of Marte's suspension could help him turn into the next version of Pete Alonso.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand will earn a huge bump in playing time after Noelvi Marte suspension

Encarnacion-Strand was never just going to "ride the pine" in 2024, but the Reds roster is loaded with corner infielders. While Elly De La Cruz and Matt McLain were going to hold things down at shortstop and second base, respectfully, the rest of the infielders on the roster were going to have to learn how to share.

Encarnacion-Strand, India, Candelario and Marte were supposed to be jockeying with each other for playing time in 2024. Though India has seen some time in the outfield, it's more likely the former Rookie of the Year will shift his focus to first base rather than left field.

With the roster as currently constructed, Encarnacion-Strand would've been reduced to playing first base a couple of days per week and then grabbing a start or two as the team's designated hitter. Now, with Marte suspended, look for Encarnacion-Strand and India to split duties at first base and DH. Encarnacion-Strand could also give Candelario a breather at the hot corner.

Can Christian Encarnacion-Strand mimic Pete Alonso's 2019 season?

Encarnacion-Strand's power is next-level, and the slugger has already launched three homers this spring. In 63 games last season, the former fourth-round pick mashed 13 round-trippers.

In Alonso's first full season in the big leagues, the New York Mets first baseman hit 53 homers with 120 RBI. That's a lofty goal to be sure, but don't be surprised if Encarnacion-Strand gets somewhere close to 40 big flies if he's able to rack up over 600 plate appearances.

Last season, only Spencer Steer surpasses 600 plate appearances, but his performance garnered the rookie more opportunities. The same thing awaits Encarnacion-Strand this season, and without Marte in the lineup to begin the season, the chances will be quite prevalent.

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