The National League has been told to work around the basis that the 2021 season will not include the designated hitter. That was just one of several things written about by Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic this morning. No designated hitter is likely bad news for the Cincinnati Reds more than it is for most other teams in the National League.

With the Reds outfield including four players who played mostly every day when everyone was healthy in 2020, it’s going to make for a much more difficult time for Cincinnati manager David Bell to work the lineup to get Nick Senzel, Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, and Shogo Akiyama the playing time and at-bats that they may have otherwise expected.

From the outside looking in, it feels like it will be Shogo Akiyama who could see the biggest decline in playing time if the other three players are healthy. He didn’t play much when a left-handed pitcher was on the mound last season. When Nick Senzel was healthy, he was starting in center almost every day. Perhaps a part of that was that the team had the designated hitter spot, meaning that Jesse Winker could slide into the role and maximize the defense and offense. But Akiyama, who did turn things around at the plate in the final month, just wasn’t close to matching the offensive output that Winker had in both 2020 and in previous seasons. And for a team that had a struggling offense that is looking to improve, Winker probably gets the edge in the “defense versus offense” question of value there.

There could be a bit of a saving grace, though. Both the owners and the players want the designated hitter in both leagues. What makes all of this so stupid and ridiculous is that while both want it, they are going to fight over it. In a relationship where even things they both want can’t just be agreed upon without the other side giving up something, there’s going to continue to be some back-and-forth on what that “something given up” is, and who will be giving it up. It’s never easy in baseball.

32 Responses

  1. Sliotar

    Akiyama is scheduled to make (in a full season) …

    -$7M in 2021
    -$8M in 2022

    Horrible signing.

    Not as horrible as Moustakas, who still has 3 years and $48 million to go … but smart teams don’t sign over-30 fringe guys (from Japan, no MLB experience, even) to these deals.

    Especially when the Reds had made it clear than Senzel was going to be in CF.

    • Matthew ONeal

      After bottoming out on August 28th at 183/264/232/495, Shogo would go on to post a 315/451/370/820 in the last 27 games, while walking more than he struck out. If that Shogo shows up in 2021, that’ll definitely play, especially for 7 or 8 million. (He did have a near 400 BABIP, so there may be some regress).

    • Grand Salami

      Winker needs to be playing a lot of 1st. Akiyama in LF would make that a good defensive OF, even with Castellanos in RF.

      Votto should be playing about 100 games next season.

  2. Bred

    If there is not going to be a DH, the FO should look to trade Castellanos. That would free up 14 million that could go to a SS. Perhaps there are no takers because of his contract.
    2021 29 Cincinnati Reds $14,000,000
    2022 30 Cincinnati Reds $16,000,000 Castellanos may opt out after 2021 season
    2023 31 Cincinnati Reds $16,000,000
    2024 32 Cincinnati Reds *$20,000,000 $20M Mutual Option, $2M Buyout
    Earliest Free Agent: 2024P

    • Jimbo44CN

      Yes, I agree. Trade Castellanos, put Aquino back in Right field and go from there. I know many may disagree but I truly beleive he was not given a fair shot last year, and not treated right by Bell. He is a far better fielder and if right, a better hitter and base runner. I am OK with Moustakos, as I think he has a good attitude. Castellanos am not sure.

      • Melvin

        You know I’m an Aquino fan. No one else that we have has the potential to put our team on his back and carry us for a month. He reminds me back in our history of George Foster but with more speed, a better arm, and better defense. He has a weight around his neck named David Bell.

      • earmbrister

        Melvin, Aquino might carry the team for a month, while burying the team for two months. He’s been consistent in his inconsistency, seemingly on an odd year/even year schedule. Luckily, we are entering an odd year. The weight around Aquino’s neck isn’t Bell, it’s his inability to consistently produce.

        Jimbo, I don’t see a bad attitude with Castellanos, and if memory serves he was lauded for working hard on his outfield defense last year. He’s produced multiple years of well above average offense in MLB. Of course, we don’t see these guys every day like the coaching staff and FO do, so I for one would tend to defer to them.

        The Reds outfield is crowded, partially due to the inability of Senzel to stay healthy. I like them all for differing reasons; hopefully a couple of them will separate themselves from the pack in ’21.

      • Melvin

        You mean he would hit worse than .200 like everyone else and bury them? LOL He needs a chance. Period. Anyone who was able to do what he did needs a chance. That’s all there is to it. It’s crazy not to. Might strike GOLD. If we get rid of him I have a very bad feeling we will regret it. He has more potential than Senzel or Winker….and is NOT injury prone I might add.

      • earmbrister

        Melvin, I had to laugh when you said “if we get rid of him I have a very bad feeling we will regret it”

        I have been saying the same thing about Senzel and Winker for two years now. Here’s to hoping that the OF gets hot this coming season and the Reds trade a hot Castellanos for a decent return. Then we might both be happy and the Reds as well. A lot of potential in all three: it’s time for that potential to turn into production. A productive and young/cheap OF would help the Reds greatly.

      • Melvin


        Yeah. I agree. Potential has to turn into reality at some point. I know we’re all on the same side. I would just like to see what Aquino could do if he got the chance to play consistently. I wouldn’t mind those three playing the outfield together if they all stayed healthy….provided Winker plays LF. LOL

  3. Andy

    Senzel’s next injury will fix this “problem”.

    I’m guessing Shogo plays plenty.

  4. Mark

    No DH helps the Reds. Last year Barnhart’s average was lower than some pitchers. Basically, we had a pitcher hitting all last season.

  5. Klugo

    That sucks.
    I think if Akiyama played everyday, he would hit anyone everywhere.

    • JayTheRed

      I’m with you on this. Akiyama is a nice spark at the top of the lineup I think he should be getting the time first off. Senzel needs to stay healthy for longer than a month before he should be given any kind of Starter status.

      If one of them catches on fire let them ride the wave.

  6. Roger Garrett

    It goes even beyond the 4 guys in the outfield because we have others that have or are declining on defense.Injuries will take care of some of the playing time because of the history regarding Wink and Senzel and the age of Moose and Joey but it really hurts the Reds as stated.I expect Bell will mix and match against certain pitchers and over manage some to get guys some at bats even without the DH spot.

  7. Gonzo Reds

    “The Reds traded Iglesias and cash to the Angels on Monday in exchange for reliever Noe Ramirez and a player to be named later or cash.”

    Makes the Bradley non-offer even more of a head scratcher. Our management team really has no clue what they are doing. (unless as has been mentioned before we are clearing room to sign Bauer)

    • CI3J

      What’s the point of having Bauer if the bullpen can’t close out games? Unless the Reds think they can fill those holes through free-agency.

      But more importantly, if they trade Gray, then really, what IS the point of having Bauer?

  8. Mark Moore

    I personally think all of this is posturing by Manfred and the Union. They’ll make some other concession as they all know the DH will be in the next agreement. I have nothing but speculation to base that on, but I’ll stick to it until we see 2021 launched without a full-time DH.

    As for those who keep wanting to put Winker at 1B … do we have any indication he’s be at least serviceable there? We pretty much agree Votto’s defense isn’t cutting it anymore. Not sure we can afford to swap in Da Wink and get that level of performance … or worse.

    • earmbrister

      I swear that I’ve seen Winker play at 1B. Yet, Baseball Reference doesn’t show any games there. My delusions usually involve women …

      Did Winker play first base in ST?

      • Melvin

        I think he played 1B once or twice for us in our sim season. LOL I do understand the idea of wanting him to learn playing there though.

      • earmbrister

        Winker is a lefty so he must be able to play first base, right? At the moment he’s the best hitter the Reds have; he needs to play everyday (whether it be LF, DH, or 1B).

        He’s got a great attitude. Love that he was getting under the skin of Mets fans – he’s got some Joey in him.

      • Melvin

        Winker does have a good attitude which by itself is always a major asset.

  9. Melvin

    Not to worry guys. You know this is Little League and our manager makes sure everyone gets at least two innings a game anyway. 🙂

    • JayTheRed

      It drives me crazy how he manages games. Let your regulars play at least 5 or 6 days a week and the bench guys are bench guys they play for pinch hitting and 1 or 2 days a week.

  10. MK

    What has Senzel accomplished to give himself a pass to the starting lineup. He followed the injury plagued 2019 .256 average with a sickness/ injury plagued 2020 with .186. Senzel might be best served with AAA to try to work out his swing issues or find someone who will overpay for him. Akiyama was a gold glove finalist put him in center and let him play.

    • earmbrister

      MK, Senzel raked in the minors while also being plagued with injuries. He needs to play everyday, and of course stay healthy. Senzel was the best hitter in his draft class, and has the ability to be a star at the plate AND in the field. CFrs who can mash are a rarity.

      I’m not ready to give up on him. Of course, I could very well be wrong: I’ve been married twice ?

      • earmbrister

        My emoji became a question mark …

  11. Ren Butler

    Don’t leave out what the fans want. Just let us have our league with standard baseball, and AL fans can have their modification, and every fan can be happy.

    Without us, they’re nothing.

    • CP

      You prefer no DH, I prefer the DH. I don’t think the average fan really cares. I’m not even sure it matters anymore since pitchers no longer even go deep in games.

  12. TR

    I think the question of the DH in both leagues will be worked out by opening day. They play each other in the regular season. It’s not like the old days when the AL team scores were hardly posted at Crosley Field.

  13. Hotto4Votto

    Hopefully the two sides get together and work something out for the good of everyone. I’m not holding my breath considering the two sides that need to come together don’t seem to know the definition of mutually beneficial.
    Man, it feels the off-season hits keep on coming, and no DH makes a bad offense even worse. Fortunately (unfortunately?) Senzel’s healthy history will help the Reds avoid a log-jam in the OF. The guy just can’t stay on the field for one reason or another. But man, an aging Shogo in CF sandwiched between two “adventures” defensively in Winker and Castellanos will be hard to watch.