While this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, it seems that whenever we do get baseball back in 2022 that the designated hitter is coming to the National League. Rob Manfred noted this week that the owners “conceded” the universal designated hitter and that both sides have agreed to it. I put conceded in quotes because it’s not really a concessions – both sides wanted it to happen, but the owners were simply trying to use it as a bargaining point for some reason.

For the Cincinnati Reds it’s going to be something new-ish. Since the league began interleague play teams in the National League have sparingly had the opportunity to use a designated hitter. In the shortened 2020 season the Reds had one every day. But it now seems that moving forward the Reds and their National League compadres will be enjoying adding a bat to their lineup and risking less injuries to pitchers at the plate or on the basepaths. And as an aside, it also helps teams in the National League out a bit in free agency as they can now offer slightly better terms for players who may, near the end of a deal, need to slide to the designated hitter role.

It doesn’t seem likely that the Cincinnati Reds are going to be going out and looking to sign any big free agent that would come in and fill out a designated hitter role. Whoever serves in that role for the Reds is likely already on the roster. There isn’t exactly someone that stands out as a perfect option, though. Jesse Winker served in the role for much of the 2020 season. That year included a Cincinnati team that had Nick Castellanos and he’s no longer a Red. It was also the first year that Shogo Akiyama was on the team and Cincinnati was more committed to getting him playing time than perhaps they are today.

Mike Moustakas, like Jesse Winker, isn’t known for his defensive prowess at this point in his career. And on top of that, the position he was signed to play – second base – was overtaken by 2021 Rookie of the Year Jonathan India. That alone may actually make it an easier decision for manager David Bell on most days. A lineup that includes Winker, India, and Moustakas is probably the best fit and the designated hitter can certainly allow that.

With that said, both Moustakas and Winker are left-handed hitters who don’t have a stellar history against left-handed pitching. When a lefty is on the mound there’s probably a good chance that some right-handed hitters take over in the lineup for at least one of those two guys, if not both. Who those options are may depend on how the roster and lineup shake out. Nick Senzel and centerfield come into play here. As does Jose Barrero and shortstop and or centerfield. If those two players aren’t starting, but are on the 26-man roster, they may be the guys that battle for right-handed side of a designated hitter spot. Maybe Aristides Aquino looks more like the 2019 version of himself than the 2020/2021 version. If that’s the case then his role could come into play, both directly or indirectly if he’s slotted into right field and that pushes someone else to the bench (or center, for example with Tyler Naquin).

There are a plethora of options for how this all plays out. Health will matter. How the outfield shakes out defensively will come into play. How the shortstop position plays out could factor in, too. It’s likely that for the most part that Mike Moustakas seems to be the guy that makes the most sense when a right-handed starter is on the mound. But there will be a lot of times when a lefty is out there and that could lead to a handful of guys getting opportunities in the lineup that they may otherwise not have gotten.

53 Responses

  1. Bob Stitt

    I think that the Reds should trade Castillo only if they include Moustakas in the deal. Re-sign Castellanos for 4 yrs at $110 (they would have money due to shipping the two above). Have the starting rotation be Gray, Mahle, Greene, Guitierrez, and either Lodolo or Ashcraft. The DH is much easier solved as Winker could do it almost every day.

  2. Optimist

    Am I not remembering it correctly, or has it long been a comment topic about how LH bat heavy they are? To flip the question in this context, who has the best splits vs. LHPs? Looks like India and Stephenson – and though it may be worthwhile to use Stephenson to limit the wear and tear on defense, should you get a backup C with equally good splits vs. LHPs? That seems like a luxury for a pennant contender.

    They’re already one behind with Castellanos gone, so now they need 2 serious RH bats beyond the Senzel/Suarez hope.

    • BK

      I tend to agree. I would like to see the Reds add a RH backup catcher with a good track record of hitting LHP. This would allow the Reds to use Stephenson as the DH against LHP giving and sit one of our LH hitters that tend to struggle against lefties. Backup catchers don’t typically break the budget.

      • Eddiek957

        I like Stephenson playing first against lefties

    • Alan Horn

      I agree. We need at least one OF bat and a DH. Neither are currently on the team in my opinion. We also need at least a couple more RPs and some additional bench bats who also weren’t on the team last season. Otherwise, I don’t believe the team as is can compete.

      • Alan Horn

        Plus, it will be a disaster if Stephenson goes down for any length of time with a injury. The Reds brass have a lot to do and a short time to do it when they do decide to play ball.

  3. LDS

    Sounds like one more batting slot that the Reds aren’t equipped to fill. More questions on this team than in an episode of Jeopardy. And David Bell is no Alex Trebek.

  4. Mark Moore

    Da’ Wink, Moose, Joey … I’m in agreement that we won’t be getting anybody “special” for that role this season. Plenty of other teams will be in that same boat.

    It does make me wonder if we have anyone on our roster that one of the other NL teams might want for that role. Just musing.

    But first, let’s actually play ball. Manfred’s last announcement was just shy of “dancing bear” to me. The only thing worse than posturing is badly done posturing.

  5. Melvin

    I think in today’s game, the DH makes a lot of sense for several reasons. For me if for no other reason than that I am sooo tired of the “David Bell Switch”. This will give him one less way to mess….I mean one less thing to worry about. 🙂 Of course pretty much everyone was “very happy” with the way he used it in 2020. lol We’ll see. As a side note I also like the runner on 2nd in extras and the seven inning double header provided it’s in back to back games. If the owners want fans to pay full price for one seven inning game, clear the park, and pay full price for another seven inning game then forget it. lol Knowing them they would try it if they could. Getting back to the DH I don’t see how it will do anything but help the Reds especially playing in the Great American Launching Pad. Moose it the most likely and if he’s not in the lineup then Winker unless of course it’s being used to give someone like Votto a “half” day off. No matter what happens in these crazy negotiations (non negotiations) that are going on baseball will survive. It’s much bigger than the nutty “Powers That Be” these days or maybe a better way of saying it would be that they are at least acting nutty, only focusing on their greed rather than the game itself.

    • LDS

      Melvin, never, ever underestimate David Bell. He is a master of the unfathomable and inexplicable.

      • Melvin

        Well….one can hope can’t he? This is America. 🙂

  6. MK

    Votto would be the best choice. He is poor defensively and it would keep him more rested as he moves to the twilight of his career. His defensive mechanics are poor. He throws off his back leg, he fields the ball to the side rather than front (Ole Dorn). I know the Votto lovers all point to his gold glove when his poor defense is discussed but I believe modern analytics proves my point.

    Farmer might be the best defensive infielder on the team. With Barrero at short between Farmer, Moose and Suarez they could play match-ups at first and third.

    • Stock

      I agree MK. Votto to DH. Moustakas to 1B.

      • Votto4life

        Do you really believe Moose would be a better defensive first baseman than Joey Votto? I mean do you really believe that??

      • Alan Horn

        I am pretty sure Moustakas won’t be able to offer much with the bat and even less in the field. He will be a massive drain on the Red’s payroll.

      • MK

        He played a respectable third and passable second , not sure Votto could so he should be better at first with a little work.

      • Alan Horn

        MK, I disagree he played a respectable 3B or 1B. The man hardly had any lateral movement at all. In addition, his bat was a long way from what it was in his best years. I guess he could have a comeback but it isn’t likely considering his age or size. The Reds bought high and late on Moose.

    • Bill J

      I remember back when Big Klu was playing he had a gold glove or two but some people said he never moved more than 3 feet either way from his position.

      • Alan Horn

        Big Klu was my favorite player growing up and the main reason I played 1B. Like Moose, because of his size, once he started experiencing injuries, he was never the same. Again, Moose might overcome the odds but I would not say it is likely.

    • 2020ball

      No one is going to argue whether hes a good defender. The only thing anyone will actually argue is whether the difference between Votto and whomever else they decide to play there makes any kind of difference or not. Find me a better defender on this team at 1B that hits at his level or even close. Winker has the bat but I doubt heavily that hes much better than Votto defensively. I’m fine with Votto as a DH some games to rest as you say, but he’s the best option at 1B on the roster so why you’d want to replace him at that position makes no sense to me.

      • Alan Horn

        Agree. I watched Votto on TV most games and both his bat and defense rebounded last season. He deserves to play 1B most of the time unless he proves otherwise.

    • burtgummer01

      Aquino has no business being in the majors

      • John

        Couldn’t agree more. The minor leagues are filled with Aquinos. The Reds lineup strikes out way too much as it is without deliberately adding another guy that doesn’t play situational baseball and doesn’t put bat on ball. With less offense, the Reds need to manufacture runs and that doesn’t happen with yet another K.

    • Alan Horn

      Maybe in the Mexican League or Japan.

  7. MBS

    If we assume Senzel CF, and Barrero SS, then a platoon of Moustakes and Stephenson at DH makes the most sense to me. Stephenson should be catching 70%, and DH 30% or something like that. Having Stephenson’s bat in the lineup everyday will go along way to minimizing the impact of losing Castellanos. If Suarez can just put up a decent year, we’d also have a pretty balanced lineup LH vs RH. Votto, Winker, Naquin – Stephenson, India, Suarez.

    If Moustakes is injured like he was last year, or overly ineffective, then I’d strongly consider Schrock as my DH. He’s got a nice bat with pop, and not a great defender.

    • CFD3000

      Forget the DH question for a moment MBS. Can we PLEASE assume and actually play Senzel in CF and Barrero at SS? Agree eleven hundred and eighty percent!

    • Alan Horn

      Might be the best we can do if they refuse to bring anyone else in the fold.

  8. Optimist

    Farmer, Moose, and Aquino cannot be the DH on a serious team. Moose is too far into the unreliable durability category, and Farmer/Aquino aren’t really close to league average on offense. Winker is obvious for one split, and we’re back to needing RH bats for multiple roles in the lineup. Trashing a bullpen is one thing, but leaving this spot in the lineup unfilled is an altogether different level of ineptitude.

    • Still a Red

      Not sure how durable you need to be to DH. Unless you hurt your shoulder swinging and missing, or pull a hamy running to first.

  9. Kevin Patrick

    I always used to say that the DH could kiss my national league a**. Now, I come here with resignation and a whimper. Isn’t it bad enough that our children will suffer in a world experiencing climate change…??? …and now they must suffer a world where pitchers don’t have to hit. My heart breaks for posterity. That said, I would just ask Votto what he wants to do and then do that. He wants to DH? Yes Mr. Votto… You don’t feel like DHing today? Ohhh…Who should I play as DH Mr. Votto?…oh yes…excellent choice Mr. Votto.

    • doofus

      The designated hitter was caused by climate change.

    • doofus

      This comment reminds me…my sons and I were leaving the stadium after a Reds-Brewers ST game (Scooter Gennett tore his groin) at the Brewers field when a golf cart zoomed by next to us. Sitting on the back with his legs dangling was Votto. He was taken to a big SUV while the rest of the Red’s players walked to the team buses.

      I guess as Mel Brooks said, “It’s good to be the king.”

  10. Old-school

    Season is too long to pigeonhole a DH when no one has done it. It takes a special skill to perform for 2 mins then sit for an hour. Most NL guys wont be able to handle it at first. Kinda like pinch hitting. Need a seasoned vet with the right mental approach

    It will be DH by committee and aging vets, handedness and injuries will dictate the DH du jour.

  11. CFD3000

    It looks like an opportunity to keep Votto and Stephenson’s bats in the lineup and yet find them a little rest to cover a few days a week. And it wouldn’t be a terrible thing to start grooming a first baseman of the future when Votto is DH. The rest of the week I suspect it will be Bell’s big chance to play matchups. That’s probably a mistake – that’s a recipe for several players to struggle. I can see an early season shuffle with whoever is hottest getting more consistent starts. I hope it’s a healthy and productive Moustakas or a resurgent Aquino, or maybe Akiyama in on-base mode. But I’m skeptical of all of those. In the end, I’m confident of this – the Reds will miss Nick Castellanos.

  12. Eric the Red

    We should keep batting our pitchers 🙂 The DH is an abomination, and given our exalted place in the long history of the sport we should stand up for what’s right. I’d rather lose playing National League baseball than give in.

  13. Votto4life

    Having the DH in the national league just means teams like the Reds will have an even more difficult time competing. The Reds can’t fill their lineup with 8 competent hitters, let along 9.

    It doesn’t sound like competitive balance issues are going to be addressed. It’s like MLB can’t figure out how to solve the problem, so they are just going to ignore it.

    Winning is important to mid and small market teams. A team like the Mets are going to draw fans no matter how bad they play. But the only way for small market teams to stay afloat financially is to win ever so often.

    Even the Harlem Globetrotters let the Washington Generals win sometimes. .

  14. Greenfield Red

    Now the Reds can play both of their sub .200 hitting, 30% strikeout 3rd basemen everyday. Should work out well.

    I do agree with the post that said it should help the Reds because it takes the double switch out of Bell’s hands.. He will find a way to reintroduce it, I’m sure.

  15. Greenfield Red

    This I agree with. The Reds seem to have a really nice group of youngsters between 17 and 21. Let’s supplement the heck out of that group with a ton of high end talent in that age group. When the last rebuild started, I remember Jockety saying he wanted to get “major league ready talent” when he traded away Cueto, ect. Then they gave away Chapman for more “major league ready talent”. What we didn’t realize at the time, none of the guys brought back in return made any difference in the long run.

    Why would a team like the Dodgers or Yankees trade away high end “major league ready talent”? They wouldn’t, and in most cases no team would. Those guys are cheap and create a huge amount of buzz that bring fans to the stadium.

    A team can sign any amount of “major league ready talent” every winter to minor league contracts with an invitation to Spring Training. 1 out of 50 make a real difference for multiple years.

    Trade for high end talent that is 2, 3, or even 4 years away. Match that with what you already have, and take advantage of the high draft picks that will come along with such a strategy.

    Maybe, just maybe it all comes together. And if you keep a continuous flow of such high end young talent, it can be sustained for more than just a small window of time.

    • MBS

      1B Confidan (biggest leap)
      2B India
      SS Barrero
      3B Torres
      DH Suarez
      RF McLain
      CF De La Cruz
      LF Hendrick
      Miller, Schrock, Johnson, Allan

      Greene, Lodolo, Gutierrez, Abbot, Ashcraft

      I do fear Ashcraft will be turned into a RP this year.

      Roa, Bonnin, Morreta, Solomon, Warren, Boyle, Sanmartin, Santillan

  16. DataDumpster

    There are several candidates but none of them seem to fit reliably in most situations. This roster of bad defenders, slow runners and people who may never find their former stroke leaves a lot of DH options as more of a dumping ground than a team strength. I can easily see David Bell shuffling half a dozen players in this role (which means there will be about 10.) Unless the Moose regains whatever justified his huge contract, there is little chance for success without a good role player being acquired to bolster this motley crew.
    This team finished in the top ten in most traditional pitching and hitting stats last year without a decent W/L record to show for it due to bad roster decisions. Expect another mess at the DH position with David Bell in the starring role again (which is maybe the way it was planned all along).

    • DataDumpster

      Probably should have no used the phrase “dumping ground.” If Winker gets 75% of the chances and TBD who can hit lefties occupies most of the other ABs, this spot could be very productive. But, our manager wouldn’t allow that to happen.

  17. Jack

    Looking at the options I have come to the conclusion that the DH will definitely not help the Reds.

    • TR

      Certainly not without a better than average replacement of Castellanos in right field.

      • A

        I agree, but I don’t think the Reds brass realize it.

  18. WillDCat

    Seems you would want a rotation for the DH, depending on pitching matchups, giving regulars a day off from the field, inevitable injuries, etc. Against righties, Moose would get more ABs at DH, but give Votto a day off from 1B on occasion, and Geno at 3B, since Moose can play both those positions. Winker could DH against righties as well. Against lefties, Aquino and Senzel make sense. Using the DH slot to give regulars a day off could help more injury-prone players by lightening their load. The team has plenty of guys who could be viewed as injury-prone…

  19. Rednat

    i may be in the minority here but I cringe thinking about the DH. Especially in today’s game. at least withe pitcher batting you have some strategy with bunting. there actually is some motion on the bases. now with the dh you will just have another guy batting .200 trying to either walk or hit the ball 500 feet 30 times a season…… booooring !

    it will bring no more excitement to the game, just more of the same dull 3 outcome crap we have been putting up for nearly 20 years now

  20. Tar Heel Red

    If you watch those who played first base last season (and are truly objective), the best defender at 1B was Tyler Stephenson…and it’s not even close. MK nailed it when he pointed out the reasons Votto is a poor defender. I would also add that Votto’s fundamentals at 1B are awful. He does nearly everything wrong, from positioning to footwork to glovework. Unfortunately the Reds continue to bow before him and let him do whatever he wants. I coach young players and I tell them if they want to emulate a MLB 1B, watch Freddie Freeman…not Votto.

    • greenmtred

      Votto is not a perfect defensive player by any means. But he has certainly saved many an errant throw.