With the designated hitter coming to the National League in 2020 in a shortened season, the idea was that it would benefit the Cincinnati Reds quite a bit. Their outfield is crowded, to say the least. Nick Senzel, Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, and Shogo Akiyama all seem to be starting caliber players. Behind them you’ve got guys like Aristides Aquino, Phillip Ervin, Mark Payton, and Josh VanMeter – all of whom could be very helpful to just about any team in the league as an outfield option.

Being able to spread the at-bats and playing time out with the designated hitter would let Cincinnati drastically improve their offense. Manager David Bell hinted at the idea that Nick Senzel likely gets most of the playing time in center field, but that there would be times where Shogo Akiyama could get action out there. He also noted that the majority of the designated hitter spots would be filled out by the teams outfielders.

On Tuesday afternoon, newest Reds outfielder Nick Castellanos was asked about potentially being the designated hitter.

“No, I don’t want to DH,” Castellanos said. “I chose to come to the Reds, first and foremost I believe they can win, but I also liked being in the National League where I get to play defense every day. A goal of mine is to become a better defender every game that I play.”

Still somewhat new to the outfield, Nick Castellanos showed reasons to believe that he’s becoming a better defender with more experience in the outfield. Mike Petriello of MLB.com wrote about his defensive improvement back in November before he Castellanos signed with Cincinnati.

It’s worth noting that he has an opt-out in his contract following the season. Whether the organization takes into consideration his not wanting to be a designated hitter or not is likely going to remain unknown. With that said, when he was asked about which outfield spot he feels the most comfortable in, he did state that he’d play wherever David Bell asked him to.

“If I’m going to say from a comfort level, I’d say right field just because I’ve had the majority of games there,” said Castellanos. “But that doesn’t mean that if David asked me to play left or any other position because the team needed it that I’m going to say no. If I’m going to say what place in the outfield I’m going to feel most comfortable, I’ve played more games in right field than any other position, so I’d say right.”

With four outfielders who seem to be “starters”, and two of them being left-handed hitters with the other two being right-handed hitters, being able to match things up here and there gives the Reds a lot of options. Nick Castellanos has been the best hitter of the bunch for his career, and he is probably the guy who, if everyone remains healthy all year, will wind up getting the most time in the lineup. He probably won’t play in right field every day. And he’s probably not likely to just be penciled into the designated hitter spot, either. What’s far more likely to happen is that he, like the other outfielders, will see a bit of both roles as manager David Bell tries to get everyone their at-bats, while also trying to maximize the efficiency of the lineup (both offensively and defensively) each day.

25 Responses

  1. Indy Red Man

    We’re almost back in business! I watch KBO every morning, but its AA baseball at best. Actually I think a good AA team would hammer them, but I do like their offensive approach. Some of their native hitters might make it in mlb.

    Question for you Doug? Do you think Shogo will get alot of at-bats vs lefties? I’m highly considering a wager of Over .270 for Shogo! I think he’ll hit a little north of .280! The pitchers don’t know him and their style of hitting leads to a good batting average.

    • Doug Gray

      If you had asked me in spring training, I’d have said no, I think he’ll be platooned a lot. But with the DH, that does open up a few more at-bats for him against lefties, probably. I still think that he doesn’t get a ton, but more than I would have thought coming into the spring – at least on a prorated basis.

      • Indy Red Man

        Thanks. I think the fewer at-bats vs LHP the better as far as my wager is concerned. Ervin is proven vs lefties anyway.

      • Old-school

        Can someone help me understand Matt Davidson?
        The Reds against righties are loaded. Who plays against lefties? Senzel in CF, Castellanos in right and ERvin seems destined for left. What about DH? What does Davidson give over Aquino, Yes, he hit for power in AAA last year, but Aquino hit 50+ HR combined and has more power, not to mention more speed, better base running, better defense, better arm, better everything. Kyle Farmer can play first base or DH too.

        What am I missing?

    • Jim

      Hopefully, if they end up playing any season, at all, they can keep them all happy and productive.

  2. Tom Mitsoff

    I had believed that Castellanos was the obvious choice to be the everyday DH. Probably not now. He signed believing he was going to play in the outfield in a league which at the time did not have the DH. Unless he is miserable defensively, he will certainly get his share of time in the outfield. Plus, if he can play outfield well enough to be an everyday player, that will open up the Reds to be able to use older players in the DH role (Votto? Moustakas?) in the next few years.

    • E

      winker was always the most obvious choice to me

  3. Bred

    I think he will DH some and mostly play right. The difference between LF and RF is not nothing so don’t mess him by switching OF positions. The Reds have plenty of LFers. Let him settle in and see if he does improve. I think I recall he can play first also, but in a short season it’s doubtful JV will want to DH much. That said the first 17 games without a day off and players not in prime condition everyone is going to need a break to stay at peak performance level. Or is that old man, which I am, thinking?

  4. docproc

    I think it’s important to keep him happy lest he opt out. I’m glad to hear he cares about his defense.

    • Colorado Red

      I doubt he would opt out this year. It would cost him too much.
      But he also has an opt out after 2021. That is the one I would be more worried about.

    • E

      I’m also glad he cares about defense, mostly because I think any “player” should. I know the crowd around might tend to agree with the anti-DH sentiment though!

  5. BK

    I would like to see them move the DH around to give everyone an occasional breather, but keep our top guys in the lineup every day. If Castellanos could play RF and 1B (former infielder) and Senzel could play CF and 2B, the Reds could simply rotate the DH around.

    Castellanos has good speed and has improved with time in the outfield. If the Reds want to put their best defensive OF in the grass, I think Winker is the best choice to DH.

  6. Redsvol

    Reds need to do whatever it takes to win games this year. Not the year to worry too much about player egos. Besides, the worst fielder has got to be Winker – the foot speed of a tortoise. The leaders (Votto, Suarez?) need to make that clear in the clubhouse. Come to the park, every day, to do what is needed to win.

    Would be foolish to opt out of guaranteed $64 million contract given what MLB appears to be facing the next couple years.

    • Mark Moore

      Good point … an opt out this year probably doesn’t happen regardless. So he’ll suck it up and play regardless of where. But if he’s an upgrade over Winker and can spell Votto at 1B (or Geno at 3B in a pinch), then I think we’re good.

    • Old-school

      Statcast sprint speed 2019.
      Suarez 25.9 feet sec/ Galvis 25.9/ Moustakis 25.7/ Winker 25.6/ Votto 25.0.

  7. Jefferson J Reed

    Castellanos can hit. I hope he comes around in regard to the DH.

  8. SultanofSwaff

    Remember, from the post last year that the difference between an average defender and a below average one is one ball every two weeks. I think we can all live with that when the hit tool is so good. Castellanos is too athletic to be anything less than average to slightly below. Let him play RF and spell him occasionally.

  9. Matt WI

    This may also be a case of an athlete simply getting a chance to save face and “show good” to the public even if he does end up DHing more than a few times. Just like when Homer got all angry about the idea of a bullpen role.

    Of course he could have just said “I just want to play, however that happens” but it’s not like he was going to say “Thank goodness for the DH this year, I really stink out there and I’m glad I can hide so I don’t hurt the team.”

  10. Stock

    I say put egos aside and play the best defensive team. You would have a hard time convincing me that Senzel is not a major upgrade over Moustakas at 2B and you would have a hard time convincing me that Moustakas was not a huge upgrade over Votto. Votto should be the DH. He is the worst defensive player on the Reds.

    • doofus

      Suarez is also an adventure. He is far from Scott Rolen (with the glove or his throws to first). Virtually no range to his right.

      • Old-school

        Suarez is the team MVP 2 years running. Beloved by his teammates, coaches and fans. He also broke the all-time single season record for Venezuelan players with 49 home runs. That’s a legitimate historic accomplishment. His defense is decent to at times good. He’s had his share of errors. But an adventure? That’s not accurate.

      • doofus

        Suarez is bad at third. I watch about 140 Red’s games a season. Suarez IS an adventure at 3B. He is NOT a good defender at 3B.

        I have watched many baseball games over the years. I know when a defender is a lock to make a play. Suarez is not a lock to make a simple throw to first base. He has no range to his right.

        Your comment here does not show a strong support for his glovework: “His defense is decent to at times good. He’s had his share of errors.”

      • doofus

        Being beloved by his teammates, coaches and fans does not mean he is NOT an adventure fielding his position at 3B.

      • doofus

        How does this comment NOT make Suarez a bad defensive third basemen? “He also broke the all-time single season record for Venezuelan players with 49 home runs.”