An arbiter ruled this week that Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino is out of minor league options, C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic tweets. The team was granted a fourth option on lefty Cionel Perez and righty Jose De Leon.
The ruling on the trio of Reds players is the latest in an increasingly wide-reaching swath of players who were in limbo with regard to their option status in 2021. Players typically have three minor league options, but a fourth option year can be granted to teams in the case of players who use all of their options before completing five “full” seasons. A “full” season, per the league, requires a player to spend 90 days on an active roster (not the injured list) at either the big league or minor league level. Because last year’s season was shortened to 60 games in a 67-day span, there was some uncertainty regarding a number of players.
Aquino’s option status looked to be straightforward at first glance. He was optioned in 2017, 2018 and 2020, spending more than 20 days in the minor leagues in each season. However, as Doug Gray covered at RedlegNation.com earlier this spring, the Reds did not list him as out of options on their spring media guides and believed there to be a case, based on missed playing time throughout his career, that he could be the recipient of a fourth option. MLB’s arbiter, it seems, did not agree.
The result now is that the Reds will either have to carry Aquino on the Opening Day roster or else trade him or attempt to pass him through outright waivers, at which point any of the 29 other clubs could place a claim. It’s something of a tricky situation for the Reds, as there’s no path to a starting role with Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel and Nick Castellanos lined up from left to right. Aquino isn’t a center fielder, so he’s not an ideal fourth outfielder. Even if Aquino could handle center, Shogo Akiyama is expected back before too long, which would push Aquino further down the depth chart.
Aquino caught all of baseball’s attention in 2019 when he turned in one of the best debut months in recent memory. Called up on Aug. 1, Aquino turned in a preposterous .320/.391/.767 slash with 14 home runs through his first 115 plate appearances. Having emerged from relative obscurity, he suddenly looked like a potential everyday outfield option for the Reds. But the month of September was nearly as bad as August was good; in 110 plate appearances Aquino batted .196/.236/.382 with a 30.9 percent strikeout rate. The Reds added both Castellanos and Akiyama the following winter, and Aquino’s path to playing time was suddenly blocked.
The Reds still managed to get Aquino 56 plate appearances last year, but he hit just .170/.304/.319 in that time. All told, dating back to September 2019, Aquino has slashed just .188/.259/.362 with a 31.3 percent strikeout rate. There’s obvious power in his bat, but it’s also hard to overlook the fact that Aquino’s massive power spike came in a 2019 season marred by controversy surrounding what most believe was a juiced baseball in both Triple-A and the Majors. Aquino hit 47 long balls in 134 games between Louisville and Cincinnati that year, but he’d never previously topped 23 dingers in a single season of games.
Now, absent a fourth option year, the Reds are left with a week’s time to determine whether Aquino will make the roster or be made available to other clubs via trade or waivers. Even if he does make the roster, Akiyama’s looming return will cloud his future with the club. Aquino is hitting .241/.353/.448 with four doubles, a triple and no homers in 34 plate appearances this spring. He’s punched out eight times.
As for De Leon and Perez, they’ll be able to be optioned between Louisville and Cincinnati this year, giving the Reds some additional depth in the ’pen and perhaps the rotation. De Leon was once one of baseball’s premier pitching prospects, but he’s bounced between three teams now and undergone Tommy John surgery along the way. He’s pitched just 66 innings in a pro game over the past three years. Perez was acquired from the Astros over the winter and worked as a starter in the minors with Houston, but all 20 of his MLB appearances have come out of the bullpen.
Luc (Soto 3rd best in the game)
I remember when I thought he was going to be good…..The good ol days
Scroll down u might learn smtg
funny that the guy who doesnt get the 4th option is the one that would, option status equal, be least likely to make the team.
Scroll down u might learn something
Looking at his minor league stats, he never had a high enough OBP to pan out in the majors.
I almost hope the Reds lose him, he won’t get any playing time here, and I still think he has promise.
Same here. Thought he’d get moved to Cleveland for Amed Rosario but nevertheless hope he catch onto a team and get regular at bats.
He would be a really good 4th outfielder for the Washington Nationals. Gets them some pop off the bench and he’s been a solid defender. Right now, Andrew Stevenson, Yadiel Hernandez and Josh Harrison are their outfield capable options to back-up Schwarber, Robles and Soto.
Stevenson and Hernandez seem like solid reserve options
A trade for a minor leaguer with some options would be ideal. Otherwise, they will cut him and hope he sneaks through. There are too many other good options the Reds have this year.
The next Kevin maas. Started out career insanely strong but MLB pitching adjusted
He’d be fun to watch in a ROX uniform.
I could see him on the Pirates or Indians.
I predict that 2019 will be the best baseball this guy ever plays when all is said and done. Doesn’t have the true pedigree. Folks just overrate him cuz he over achieved in a small sample size. He’s a fourth OFr at best.
I learned more from aquino than all the rest of baseball players combined. He had a stint prior to him crushing it w reds that was unbelievable! It was high A or AA and he was super old but for a 1/2 season he was the best player in all of baseball worldwide. He hit 400 or close enough with 25+ homers, rbi, runs and he had more runs saved on defense than rest of team combined by a very large margin. He was super man.
What I learned was that every player blows up. Might be in college or minors or run in The Show but every player has their stent where they are amazing and untouchable. Doesn’t mean that’s who are or will be though over a full career of work. So the most significant thing an organization can do is identify the difference between mike trout and an aquino or krilloff. Might be an initial “duh” response, but the value comes into unloading the player at height value.
Royce Lewis blew up after he was drafted. He went first then dominated his first run at pro ball. Based on what Boston and white Sox paid for moncada and Robert – Lewis value at that point was 100 mil to another franchise. Yet he’s still a twin and worth maybe 10% of that today.
I get the feeling you’ve never actually played competitive ball
The Rockies should trade Story and $50M to the Reds for him.
Indians in same boat with Jake Bauer’s. Make the trade! Can Aquino play any center?
Nope, he cannot really play CF.
They will both prob end up with the Rays.
Better suited in right (great arm) but he does have good speed.
The Reds may have been wise to sell high on him a couple of years ago, but hindsight is 20/20. I feel like Aquino is the type of player who may have more success overseas.
The Reds should trade him. For a third baseman.
I see what you did there…
Well – for awhile it seemed like they only drafted SS. Now it seems all they play are 3Bmen. At least the org is consistent, even if they are clueless about winning.
He’s just another Willy Mo Pena. Does Boston have a Bronson Arroyo the reds could acquire?
Seems like the Players Union should have thought of this
when they were hammering out the Covid rules. And I do mean hammering! They lost focus because of their anger…..
Akiyama is not exactly a consolation prize…..