With the DH likely headed to the National League, at least for 2020, we’re going to run through each of the NL teams to see how they might best handle this new need/opportunity and explore any interesting potential roster effects. We’ve already done the Dodgers and D-Backs … now on to the Reds:
This is in some respects a dream scenario for the Cincinnati organization, which has a deep group of outfielders and spent the winter adding defensively questionable hitters. Perhaps the potential for a DH helped inform the team’s rather bold decision to give hefty four-year deals to both Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas.
With the aid of the temporary rule change, the club can really make use of exciting youngster Nick Senzel. The versatile infielder/outfielder could get in the lineup on a regular basis while moving around the diamond, opening the door to additional opportunity for him and additional rest for some veterans. If he’s in the lineup, Castellanos or Moustakas could appear as the DH … or slide over to first base to give Joey Votto a day in the hitter-only slot.
It certainly seems reasonable to think that Castellanos will end up occupying DH duties more than anyone else. He’s not considered much of a defender and is presently slated to line up in right field. The Reds could not only plug Senzel into that slot but can draw upon their bounty of platoon-friendly corner outfielders to maximize offensive output. Phil Ervin and Aristides Aquino are the top righty bats, with lefties Jesse Winker, Scott Schebler, and Mark Payton also candidates for the mix. (Left-handed hitter Shogo Akiyama is expected to spend most of his time in center. Senzel, it’s worth noting, can also play there.)
The Reds came into the year looking to shoehorn offensive production wherever possible. Now, they’ll not only have more chances to do so, but have far more flexibility to avoid the potential run-prevention problems that might have accompanied the strategy.