There were immediate questions when the Cincinnati Reds brought in both Shogo Akiyama and Nick Castellanos in big money moves over the winter. With the presence of Nick Senzel and Jesse Winker alongside out-of-options Phil Ervin and Rule 5 pick Mark Payton, there was an obvious outfield glut. The advent of the Universal DH this year should help alleviate that some, but there still appears to be a need for a rotation to keep all of those Reds on an active roster.
Of course, that didn’t even get to Aristides Aquino, who rode a breakout 2019 season with AAA Louisville to a return to the 40-man roster, only for his August and September to show just how boom and bust he can be. As it turns out, the Reds will lean on him having another option for the time being, as today Aquino headlined the first list of cuts from Reds Summer Camp, the team announced on Twitter.
Aquino has been much the same in limited action since practices resumed, mixing a few mauled meatballs with a lot of swings and misses, and will now be asked to improve his game without the presence of regularly scheduled games against opponents. Hopefully, the staff at the Prasco facility can find a way to unlock some more consistency from him in other, more creative ways, since odds are we’ll see him get a shot at the big league level at some point, for some reason, this year.
The trio of RHPs optioned shouldn’t draw too much surprise, I suppose. Each of Joel Kuhnel, Matt Bowman, and Justin Shafer have, at times, proven their mettle at the big league level, but none was necessarily a lock for the Opening Day roster, even with it expanded to 30 players. Manager David Bell had hinted that he might actually carry more position players for the time being, as it would give him that many more options mid-game, and that’s probably baked into these decisions. Also, with it still set to be a question just how ready the starting rotation is to go deep into games at this juncture, it seems that the relief options with recent starting experience - Lucas Sims and Tyler Mahle, mainly - might have a bit more value/priority at this juncture.
Finally, there’s Jose Garcia, who despite impressing back in March and again in camp at GABP the last two weeks was never really going to make the club out of camp. He’s not even on the roster yet, has yet to hit above A+, and therefore has yet to start his service clock, and barring injuries to multiple other middle infielders was always going to be simply in camp for the valued experience. I’ll go firmly on record that this transaction does nothing to dim just how bright his star looks at the moment, and was merely an inevitability due to the nature of the business.
Tyler Thornburg, who was in camp as a non-roster invitee, was also reassigned to camp. Hopefully, he can use the next few weeks to continue to work his way back to his pre-injury form, as if so, he could end up a nice late-season addition if the Reds manage to make a run this year.