August of 2019 is going to be very tough for Aristides Aquino to top in his career. Heck, it’s going to be tough for almost anyone to top for a single month of baseball. In 29 games during the month he hit .320/.391/.767 with 14 home runs. It was a rookie month to belittle all other rookie months. But the Cincinnati Reds outfielder slumped the following month, hitting just .196/.236/.382 in the 27 games that followed to end the season. In 2020 he played in 23 games, but only seven of them were complete games. In three of those games he didn’t register a plate appearance and in five others he had less than two at-bats. In a crowded outfield, playing time was tough to come by.

“It was pretty difficult last year,” said Aquino on Tuesday. “I came in so focused last year that I really wanted to do my very best out there, and I wanted to give it my best, but I kind of forgot how to have fun out there. So that’s kind of what happened to me last year. It kind of unraveled on me and I just kind of forgot to have fun. So this year I’m just trying to get better, getting back to where I was in the 2019 season and getting back to what I was doing.”

The soon to be 27-year-old spent the offseason tinkering with his swing with the hopes that he could be more consistent and that it will help him garner some more playing time at any of the three spots in the outfield.

“I tried to tinker with a couple of things in my swing,” said Aquino. “But I did work a lot, I’m trying to be more consistent as well. I’ve always said that if I’m able to play at any of those spots, then I’m more inclined to get a spot out there, so I’ve been working at all three (outfield) spots this offseason and in spring training.”

Despite the outfield being crowded, the competition isn’t necessarily against the other outfielders for Aquino. Instead he’s just trying to be the best player he can be, to compete against himself.

“There’s really good outfielders on this team, no one’s going to deny that,” Aquino said. “But I have to just compete against myself. I’m trying to prove out there to myself that I can do the best that I can. And I can only control so much of what’s going on, so I’m not trying to compete against anyone else it’s just towards myself.”

Defensively, Aristides Aquino only has four innings in the Major Leagues as a center fielder. Most of his time has come in right field, though he has played a little bit of left field, too. In the minor leagues almost all of his time has come in right field – 6260.1 of his 6304.1 innings have come as a right fielder. Only 43 innings have come in center field in his minor league career – but almost all of those came in 2019. Cincinnati would probably prefer Aquino to play in the corners rather than in center field, but they also seem to think he can cover you there in a pinch if asked given the limited, but recent action given to him at the position.

The Reds will have a rather important decision to make this spring with regards to Aristides Aquino. After having used options in 2017, 2018, and 2020, the Dominican Republic born outfielder can’t be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers. While he has struggled some recently, there’s a team that would claim him out there and hope that more consistent playing time could get things going in the right direction. Essentially the decision will come down to: Have Aquino on the roster or lose him to another team – whether that’s through the waiver process or perhaps a trade. With a good spring, the decision can easily be made for them.

While National League teams are currently working around the idea that there’s not going to be a designated hitter in the 2021 season for them, it’s not written in stone. Until the regular season begins, that could be changed. If that were to happen, that would certainly favor both Aristides Aquino and the Cincinnati Reds, opening up more ways for manager David Bell to get the outfielders as a whole more playing time.

46 Responses

  1. Corey D

    Thanks for the post Doug. I hope things can work out for Aquino.

  2. Melvin

    If they end up losing him…. they’re CRAZY.

  3. 3rdbaseTom

    I hope he gets a chance to have some fun and become that “lightning in a bottle” once again.

  4. Jimbo44CN

    I have to admit I am biased towards Aquino, I was at one of the Cubs game in 2019 where he hit a couple of home runs and the place was electric. I really think he was just bounced around too much last year by Bell and company and that was a big part of the problem. Regular playing time I think would do him a world of good, even if he’s platooned with Winker, or Castellanos. He has the ability to be better than both of them, both offensively and defensively. If they put him on waivers he would get scooped up in a heartbeat.

    • Matt WI

      Hard not to get caught up in that. But I keep remembering the hard won lessons from the Reds relationship w/ Billy Hamilton- getting enamored by the “if only he could just…” mindset based on a tantalizing skill is not always good baseball decision making. But who knows. At 26 he may be juuuust fresh enough to still be able to make a change or two and see something click. Rare though.

      • Jimbo44CN

        I loved Billy but that’s completely different. They kept giving him playing time in the outfield year after year where he had gold glove defense, but his bat never did come around. Aquino has not gotten anything like that consideration in playing time. He deserves another chance.

      • Matt WI

        Well, and I’ll say this in fairness to Aquino– it’s not as if many of the other guys are exactly models of consistency at the plate.

      • Melvin

        Billy Hamilton virtually NEVER hit. We know what Aquino can do which is nothing like anyone else has ever done in some ways. I was at the game in Atlanta which I believe was his first HR. As I recall he didn’t start out on fire that year. It took him awhile. Why they won’t give him an extended chance is mind boggling. My guess it has a lot to do with everyone’s buddy on here David Bell. I know I’ve talked about this before but since this discussion is all about Aquino I will again. Everyone talks about how bad his September was that year and in some ways it was .196/.286/.382/.619 with 34 Ks. However as bad as that was, which is safe to assume it would be his “worst”, he still had, if projected over a six month season:

        Hits – 120
        Runs – 54
        2B – 24
        HR – 30
        RBI – 84
        SB – 30

        That what his worst was. We know what his best is. I’m not even talking about his defense, the way he tracks balls, his speed, and his rocket arm. If Choo played CF an entire season then there’s no way that Aquino couldn’t do just as good or better if need be. If we’re talking about money, which seems to be top priority for the Reds, we all know he’s making relatively nothing. As I said, if they let him go….they’re CRAZY. He could very well, if given enough opportunities, we be the best outfielder on the team for virtually nothing. By the way same stats for August, his “best” while hitting .320/.391/.767/1.158, projected over a six month season:

        Hits – 198
        Runs – 132
        2B – 24
        HR – 84
        RBI – 198
        SB – 12

        Somewhere in the middle is the real Aquino. Even David Bell said last year about this time he thinks it’s closer to August than September but yet??????

  5. Matt WI

    I agree Doug, Spring makes or breaks him. Let’s see how injuries and whatnot play out for some of the others on the team, how he plays. If he struggles, it will be tough… either wiaver him or sell really low on a trade (not that he has magnificent value). Unless….

    I actually kind of hope he puts on a power display and the Reds can shrewdly catch a team in need and grab a surprising trade before the season starts. I’m always down for a Willymo for Arroyo trade. 🙂

  6. Cubano

    Well the headlines the last couple of days speak volumes. “Joey Votto wants to hit for more power…” “Shogo Akiyama wants to hit for more power…”
    Aquino wants to have fun. Seems like that may end up being a more valuable approach than playing into the strikeout/walk/homer rut.

  7. Hotto4Votto

    I hope he figures out ways to have fun. It sure was a lot of fun seeing him hit all those HRs when he came up. Without the DH in place his path to playing time has decreased even from what it was last season. Maybe he’ll get in the games against lefties.

    • MuddyCleats

      I’d like to see this kid put it all together. Certainly he has power. He also defends well, runs above avg for his size and has an absolute cannon for an arm. That speed has allows him to steal a bag or two in the past. Like so many other Reds, the Ks are the problem. Clearly the kid has the raw tools to b a team asset. Here’s hoping he can make more contact and still hit w/ authority. That would allow everyone to have more fun!

      • Hotto4Votto

        Yeah, he has tools to work with. He’s just never put them together consistently for long stretches, even in the minors for the most part (2016 and 2019 w/ the juiced ball are his only stretches above average in the minors). He would be an upgrade defensively in the OF, especially in RF. The Reds have a limited roster with parts that don’t seem to fit entirely well. The signings of the 2020 season were exciting, but didn’t fit the team needs. Signing Moose, a 3B, to play 2B when Senzel could have slid to a natural position was an odd move. Signing Castellanos and Akiyama after that when we had some OF depth at the time instead of signing a SS which was our biggest area of need was also odd. Now we still don’t have a SS and an OF where we can’t find everyone enough playing time. Poor foresight on the roster management.

    • DaveCT

      Ive been assuming at this point most of his previous success and thus fun was tied directly to the super ball disguised as a baseball in 2019. As previously discussed, the juiced ball will hopefully just become even more on an extreme outlier post covid, in whatever form baseball re-emerges.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Yeah, I know what you’re saying, the 2019 season is hard to track what was real. But that 2016 season he had in A+ where he had a .519 SLG and .846 OPS in the FSL that absolutely saps power…makes me think he could still put it together. He’s just now hitting his prime years. Would hate to give up on him.

      • Jimbo44CN

        Oh come on. I saw him personally hit balls a long, long way. Whether juiced or not, they would have been out of any park. Now there were a couple of cheap ones, but most were legitimate shots.

      • DaveCT

        Tracking Aquino through the minors, there is little doubting his raw power. Thats real. The in game ability to hit a pitched baseball, which he has not done outside of 2019, isn’t there as of yet. Players don’t become all stars let alone regulars on a second division team based in a month.

  8. MBS

    Aquino is easy to root for. It’s not his fault the reds went so deep in the OF. 2 of their former 1st rounders, then 2 costly, by the reds perspective FA OF. I almost hope the reds do cut Aquino. He is being wasted here. He may never amount to much, but he earned a chance to find out.

  9. TR

    Aquino has not had a real chance to prove himself like, as previously stated, Billy Hamilton was given. AA is a lot of all-around talent to not take advantage of, but he’ll be gone by the end of spring training.

  10. RedsFan11

    If Aquino can learn to hit the offspeed stuff like Pedro Cerrano then lookout. If he has a great spring then it will be just another reason to move Senzel back to the infield. Aquino can then be a great 4th outfielder with ability to spot start, defense replacement, and pinch hit

    • Corey D

      Where do we think Senzel would play if he moved to the infield?

      • MuddyCleats

        Do u feel he is a must start? W/out looking at stats, I really don’t see the luv for Senzel or Winker. Their potential has been talked up & has been on display fm time to time, but actual consistent production seems 2 b lacking? Not sure Senzel will stay healthy playing n the OF; not sure he has the arm Or legs for it? Luv his Moxxy & want him 2 b as advertised, but I don’t think we’ve seen it yet?

    • TR

      I’ll be pleasantly surprised if Red’s management realizes what they have in Aquino and Senzel is moved to the infield where he belongs.

  11. Rednat

    what i like about Aquino is that he can help the team in different ways. a definite multi dimensional player. kind of reminds me of a REggie Sanders type player. I also like the fact that he can score from second base on a single. a skill that is becoming a rarity in today’s game. i think if he focuses just on trying to get on base and causing havoc when he gets on base he will be fine and the home runs will come. i could certainly live with him being an everyday corner outfielder for the reds. i think he has a good feel for the game

  12. SteveLV

    Aquino has real potential and is at the age that potential turns into results – or not. I’d be pretty disappointed if the Reds didn’t take the next year or two to find out. The alternatives for a 5th outfielder look like they top out (or have topped out) as reserves.

  13. TOM

    I also think to lose Aquino would come back to haunt them. I also have a trade idea. Trade Senzel, Aguino, India & Santillan to Rays for Adamis & Kermeier. Rays are my adopted team. Originally from Cincy, where my heart still lies.

    • Old Big Ed

      That would be a preposterously bad trade for the Reds. Kiermaier is coming out of 2018-2020 where his OPS+ has been 80, 79 and 91; he is owed $38 million over the next three years; and this is his age 31 season. His CF defense is outstanding, but GABP does not reward great CF defense. Adames is fine, but he figures to be fairly equal to Jose Garcia within a couple of years. Adames has a higher floor, and Garcia has a higher ceiling. The Kiermaier anvil outweighs the benefit from Adames.

      I wouldn’t give Senzel for that, much less him and 3 other guys.

  14. MK

    I would like to see them work Castleanos out at first base this Spring. It is pretty obvious that if Votto is going to be an effective player, at his age, again he is going more days off. As Castleanos came up as an infielder he could man first against lefties and open up right field for Aquino a couple times a week.

    Is 2021 a 26 or 28 man roster year?

    • SultanofSwaff

      I like that idea. I thought Moose had a good feel for 1B as well.

    • Old Big Ed

      The variation off that is to play Moose at 1B and Senzel at 2B, on Votto’s off days, leaving CF to either Shogo or Aquino, depending on the matchups.

  15. Linkster

    Look for Aquino to be cut or traded. he is out of options and they have better guys who can play OF already in camp – Heineman, Strange-Gordon, Naquin,

    • west larry

      I disagree to your assessment of the outfielders. If Strange-Gordon makes the team, it will be as a middle infielder. I’m not that high on Naquin or Heineman, but I think Naquin could be the fifth outfielder/pinch hitter.

      • Linkster

        They already have four OF’s. So, Aquino would be the 5th guy. So, that would make Naquin the 5th OF. They will also need to find a spot for Holder in the IF or offering him back to the Yankees since he is a Rule-5 pick. Strange-Gordon could be the UI but, that would move Blandino back to the minors, with one option left. Maybe they will stick with Aquino for a while since he is out of options and is already on the 40 man roster. But, he has already been cut once before.

    • Jimbo44CN

      Heineman, abysmal ml numbers , Gordon is really starting to show his age,and Naquin is another poor defender who can’t hit. Haven’t they tried that already with Goodwin(dud) Payton, Ervin, Jankowski, etc. Aquino has way more upside than any of these, way more.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Yeah, I like Aquino better than the other OF. His arm and power are much better than the others, so he offers pop off the bench and potential defensive replacement in RF. Plus he’s RH and two of our starting OF’ers in Winker and Akiyama are LH so it offers a decent option at platoon at times.

  16. Old Big Ed

    If you look at the Yankees alone, both Aaron Judge and Luke Voit are big guys who took some time to develop. Judge is exactly 2 years older than Aquino, and both made their debuts at age 25. I’m not saying Aquino is Judge, but that bigger guys can take some time. Voit led the AL in homers last year and was 9th in MVP balloting. Going into his age 27 season, Voit had 28 major league hits, 4 homers, and an OPS of .736.

    I choose not to believe that Aquino lucked into a 1.158 OPS and 14 HRs over 115 PAs in August 2019, and instead actually has some talent. Yeah, he was pretty bad in September, but it was also the first year that he had played a season that long, and certainly the league adjusted to him. He has really not been afforded the chance to adjust back. Throwing him (or Garcia) into the fire of MLB last year, after having faced no competitive live pitching in Prasco, was not a fair opportunity.

  17. ClevelandRedsFan

    I think Aquino is the 5th outfielder at this point. I still like him as bench player because he can add a lot of value.

    Pinch-hitting power
    Defensive replacement for Castellanos
    Pinch run

    He could effectively play the role Davidson had last year: RH power.

    • MuddyCleats

      Agree, why not a RHH option for Winker or Shogo vs tough LHP ? Likewise, I think Reds need a RHH option for Votto. Pls don’t keep Heineman or someone else w/ fewer tools & accomplishments and then cut a guy like Aquino – a very Reds thing to do. Agree he hasn’t achieved consistence, but neither have a lot of Reds players. Guy runs & defends well – has easy ML power even w/ a dead ball and weapon for a throwing arm. Unless he looks just terrible, I can’t imagine keeping Payton or Heineman over AA ?

  18. 2020ball

    The only disadvantage I see to moving Suarez and Senzel around is that either of them might not like it. Moose seems onboard to play wherever needed. If we do see Suarez playing short, he’s probably also playing third occasionally (or almost exclusively) which means Senzel is shifting back-and-forth too. I’m personally open to the idea since it helps the roster make more sense and opens spots for Shogo, Winker, and Aquino to play more often, but obviously all the reasons not to do it are still there too.

  19. DaveCT

    Acquino’s 2019 breakout in AAA and his eye popping month of August in the ML’s should be tempered with the reality of the juiced ball. In the same vein, his failures in 2020 should also have some disclaimers given his lack of any real opportunity. The best thing for Acquino would be a trade to a team where he’ll get a real chance to play, which isn’t happening here barring some sort of event such the an injury to one of the top four guys. Last year, we had to cut Phil Ervin loose. By this time next year, Acquino is likely an afterthought one way or another.

  20. Scott C

    This whole offseason has got me upset and bewildered. I understand that the Reds are a small market team but that is no excuse for not finding creative ways to be competitive. Tampa Bay is a small market team and was in the WS last year. Fifty years ago, teams only had two ways to improve, run a good farm system or trade for players you need. Today you can not only follow those two paths but you can also sign free agents. The Reds went into the off season, knowing the biggest hole was a shortstop. They failed to develop a SS in the farm system. Instead they had signed an international player that should have been ready to play sort by now, but A Rod 2 is never going to be a starting ML shortstop and probably never was going to be. They could have signed a FA shortstop but failed, not only in signing a top tier SS but also could not sign a second tier SS. I really don’t think they are going to trade for one because they don’t want to spend the prospect capital (which I agree with) or spend the $$ it would cost for a year’s rental. So the only thing left is what teams used to do to get the 8 best players on the field, be creative in playing players at different positions. I don’t think that is the best option, but it is the only one that I believe is going to work right now.

    • Hotto4Votto

      And to make it worse they spent almost $9m on that SS that didn’t develop and honestly wasn’t ever projected to hit. It never made sense, it was confounding at the time, especially because it made Garcia and Guerrero cost more as well. Yeah, it’s frustrating.

  21. Droslovinia

    Perhaps he could benefit from being exposed to a hitting coach, instead of the “close your eyes and flail away” coach their alleged “offense” had last year. I enjoyed the tv segment they did when he first came up, showing how they were adapting his swing for the big leagues. Maybe they could go back to that.

  22. Roger Garrett

    Aquino is just one of many Reds that were anointed then threw under the bus in less then 60 games.Who is the real AA is the question? Will we ever find out?Billy Hamilton got 6 years and never hit,Tucker in in year 8 and well he’s not much better then Billy.While I would like to think AA could change it with a good spring I don’t see him being any more then being a 5th outfielder on this team.He will be given a chance by another team because his power and defense plays in the big leagues and I hope he does well.