The Cincinnati Reds outfield was a mess in 2022. And they have questions all over the place in the outfield for 2023 as things stand right now. One player that won’t be there, though, is Aristides Aquino. After being non-tendered earlier this month he became a free agent. And now the outfielder is heading to Japan.

Hector Gomez of Z101 Digital in the Dominican Republic reported that Aquino signed with the Chunichi Dragons of the NPB in Japan for $1,200,000 on a 1-year deal and he gets a signing bonus of $300,000.

Aquino burst onto the scene in August of 2019. The then 24-year-old hit 14 home runs in 29 games during the month, posting a .320/.391/.767 line.

Along the way he set several records for the quickest to X-number of home runs to begin a career as he just went on an absolute tear. But things slowed down in September as he hit just five home runs to go with a .619 OPS.

After such a hot start, Aquino never really got his bat going again. In 2020 he managed just 56 plate appearances and hit .170. In the 2021 season he barely saw action in the first half of the season. During the second half he saw time in 60 games, getting 152 plate appearances but put up a .629 OPS in that stretch. 2022 was similar as he didn’t get much action on the field in the first half of the season, but in August and September he got into 49 games, but hit just .209 with a .653 OPS.

In his 5-year career with the Reds, Aquino hit 41 home runs in 762 plate appearances. Only in 2019 did he finish the year with an average over the .200 mark (.259). Overall he hit .211/.285/.434. While he had always been a solid defender, in 2022 he really took advantage of the opposition’s poor baserunning decisions when they chose to test his arm. Despite playing in just 78 games in the field, and only 70 of those being starts, he had 12 assists. He entered the season with four in his career. For whatever reason teams began to try and test his arm this season and it went about as poorly for them as one could imagine. Aquino’s always had a big time arm, so it’s not a situation where opponents simply didn’t know.

28 Responses

    • Jimbo44CN

      Yes, good for him. He gave us an August to remember a couple of years ago. Good luck in Japan AA.

  1. Herbert Dearing

    One player I’d love to see him get right and return to the Reds

  2. RedBB

    GL AA….not sure he can hit a breaking pitch in Japan either though.

  3. MK

    Really nice kid. Will always remember him in Dayton. We had a team dinner and he came in with a teammate who happened to be from Texas and AA was wearing cowboy boots and a black cowboy hat. Texas was obviously rubbing off on him. Teammates were in stitches shaking their heads. AA just had a big grin. At that point his English was very limited.

  4. Mark Moore

    It’s what I was expecting to hear about AA. Hope he does well and mashes it over there. They threw a year at him in what looks to me like a “show me” move. I’m sure he wants to play beyond 2023, so this is his opportunity.

  5. David

    In my humble opinion, after kind of a break through last ~ 2 months in 2019, AA’s development got really stymied by the messed – up season of 2020.
    Minor leagues really didn’t play, although the alternate roster did get some at bats at a remote site…..
    So 2020 was a lost year for AA, when he really needed to play a lot.

    Great athlete, talented. Best of luck in Japan. Sayonara!

    On another website, there was a comparison between “outfielder X” (AA) and Cody Bellenger, who some would like to sign as a free agent (for a year, with options) with the Reds. Like other players, he might resurrect his offensive game in cozy GABP.
    Their numbers (career) are just about identical.
    It gives you pause….

    • LDS

      The difference is that Bellinger strung together several decent season vs. a decent month. Bellinger is younger. I’m one of those that would like to see the Reds sign Bellinger. But I recognize that, given the interest in Bellinger, the Reds likely are out of the market already. I’ve seen some sites suggesting Gallo as a potential Reds target, which sounds like a nonstarter. But who knows? We’d all like to see the Reds make a serious move or two, but I suspect we’re doomed to be disappointed.

  6. CI3J

    Japan is the perfect place for a guy like AA. Ballparks are a little smaller, pitchers throw a little less harder, he won’t be getting pressure from multiple coaches to “fix” his hitting.

    Anyone remember Wladimir Balentien, who was briefly with the Reds? He was never given much of a chance, then promptly went to Japan and absolutely crushed it. I could see AA following a similar path.

  7. Melvin

    I wish AA the best. I still believe he has some special things in him and also believe, for several reasons, the Reds/David Bell didn’t do him any or at least many favors for the most part in the way they/he handled him. I’d love to see his skills break out all at once wherever that might be.

    • TR

      I hope AA is a star in Japan. I’ll miss his defenseive talent.

  8. JayTheRed

    Honestly happy he is getting another opportunity. Hopefully he does well. I don’t really care to have him back on the Reds though. Hopefully the OF’ers we get in the next few years produce a lot more than he did.

  9. AMDG

    From what I recall, on average players add about 0.050 or 0.060 to their batting average between MLB and Japan.

    Assuming that holds, Aquino would be a 0.250 hitter in Japan.

    With his power, if he can hit 0.250 he could easily be in contention to finish 2nd in HR’s behind Murakami next season.

  10. Erik the Red

    AA going to Japan shows me that a lot of teams did not believe he could be fixed or how little defense matters anymore.

    • BK

      I agree. Having a 20 to 25 “Hit” tool is a huge problem to overcome. As for his defense, most of his value comes from his arm rather than his fielding skill. Thus, teams can, to some degree, reduce the value of his arm by choosing not to challenge it, as an outfield assist has more value than preventing a runner from taking an extra base.

  11. RedFuture

    They way I see the lineup from the best of the current roster of 13 position players:

    LF Friedl/Solak
    2B India
    1B Votto
    C Stephenson/-TBD-
    RF Fraley/Fairchild
    3B Steer/Reynolds
    DH Moustakas
    CF Senzel
    SS Newman

    AAA depth Alejo Lopez, Jose Berrero, Mike Siani. I realize this is very lackluster and depends on expected bounce backs from Votto & India, less likely bounce back from Moustakas, continued improvement of Friedl & Fraley, talent realization of Senzel and Steer. Sorry but I don’t trust Berrero to improve plate discipline any longer. The talent of De La Cruz is something to dream on and is a wildcard that could make a huge difference!

    • LDS

      Why platoon Fairchild? His L/R splits are pretty even (.244/.250). Votto’s are not BTW, even in 2021’s “big year” they were .214/.290 and last year was .214/.201. Bottom line, this is a Bell lineup and if it sticks, the Reds will lose more than 100 games again. Calling it lackluster is an understatement. As for Barrero, prior to his injury, he hit over .300 in Louisville. Give him a chance. And we don’t want to see EDLC in Cincinnati until Bell is gone. Otherwise, we’ll see him go the way of Senzel.

      • Harry Stoner


        EDLC and Bell managing is a prescription for disaster.

        Bell loves to shift players around the field and lineup cards to demonstrate that he is ‘managing’.

        We got a little taste of it with Steer already.

      • MK

        I truly believe Votto might play by June. The video of him taking swings was about 1/3 normal effort. I had that same surgery 7 years ago in May. I had some extensive therapy, I’m sure nothing close to his in intensity, but doctor told me it would not be completely healed for nine months at best and maybe not for twelve. Was warned not to reinsure going too hard because second surgeries are usually not successful.

    • KG

      Any lineup that includes Moustakas makes me ill.

      • Herbert Dearing

        I agree he terrible has been since he’s been a Red

    • Melvin

      Moustakas doesn’t bounce so…..:) No seriously, I wish they would just cut him and move on. Six times on the IL last year. smh By the way I want to see De La Cruz NOW. lol If Aquino had (he may still have a chance) realized his full potential, as great as that may have been, from what I’m hearing and seeing it would not match Cruz. Amazing.

  12. Rednat

    just weird to me that Senzel has lasted in the league longer than Aquino. do the reds just keep him on the roster because he was a high draft pick? he just seems to have such a low ceiling at this point. plus the obvious injury issue. at least Aquino is durable

    • LDS

      +1000. Bell probably likes him for his “versatility”, i.e., yet another utility player or how to destroy one’s career in just a few position changes. Aquino was an outfielder. Bell didn’t like his lack of versatility. You know, kind of like Castellanos.

      • Harry Stoner

        Senzel has been a victim of a strange drafting strategy from the Reds as much as from Bell’s Ouija Board approach to managing.

        Keep drafting third basemen and then sign a FA 3b for big $$.

        “We’ll just move people around. He’s a good athlete, of course he can play CF (or 2b or SS or…..) You remember that so-and-so did just that!
        If he can’t cut it, then he’s not trying hard enough!”

        Chaos…thy name is Bell.

    • BK

      Senzel has all of his options, whereas AA’s options are exhausted. So, if Senzel shows up to Spring Training looking like the hitter of 2020-22, then option him. However, if he’s closer to his rookie-level production, he should earn a spot on the team. As LDS points out, Senzel’s defensive versatility also has comparative value.