The SF Giants should target a former Cincinnati Reds outfielder

Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

While Aaron Judge, Brandon Nimmo, and Kevin Kiermier are the more appealing, headline-churning outfield names for the SF Giants,  Farhan Zaidi will still need other names to shape not only the 26-man but the 40-man roster heading into the 2023 season.

The SF Giants should target a former Cincinnati Reds outfielder

When major league teams had to cleanse their 40-man roster by Tuesday’s deadline, Aristides Aquino, who was designated for assignment by the Reds the day of the deadline, was a name that stood out to me the most. 

Aquino, 29 shortly after the upcoming Opening Day, began his rookie season in 2019 with Cincinnati. If you remember, Aquino set the world on fire upon his arrival. In 56 games, spread across 225 plate appearances,  he mashed 19 home runs, slugged .576, and batted .259. He also earned the nickname “The Punisher”. Since then, however, Aquino has looked like a completely different player. Virtually unrecognizable from the player fans first saw. In 187 games (536 plate appearances) mixed in between three seasons (2020-2022), Aquino has hit just a total of 22 home runs, slugged .381, and batted a mere .192. 

Aristides Aquino
Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Another notable decline, or increase, technically, is Aqunio’s strikeout percentage. In 2019, it was 26.7%. However, in the following three seasons, it rose to an average of a whopping 36% per season. A big regression, and playing in Oracle Park 81 times a season might not help the power numbers return to form. Maybe, though, if the Giants offseason goes how fans expect it, he would not be needed for his bat as much. 

To this point in his career, Aquino is known more for being an above-average defender, with a cannon of an arm. Interestingly enough, according to Baseball Savant, Aquino is in the top 1% percentile when it comes to ‘throw speed’. Furthermore, from Baseball Savant, with a minimum of 100 outfield throws, Aquino has the third-fastest throw speed of any outfielder in baseball at 96.6 mph. 

Here are the top three:
1. Nate Eaton, KC, 98.1 MPH
2. Ronald Acuna Jr, ATL,  97.9 MPH 
3. Aristides Aquino 96.6 MPH.

Aristides Aquino
St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

MLB Trade Rumors projected Aquino to get an arbitration salary of $1.6M before Cincinnati cut bait with him. For a low price, it might be worthwhile for the Giants to pursue someone with good defensive prowess. In 2022, Aquino had a defensive WAR of 1.9 in his 80 games played, or 600 innings. If he played more innings, he would have been slotted between defenders such as Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Willy Adames, and Ramon Urias, who were among the top 20 in defensive WAR in 2022.

With the right staff, Aquino might be able to accumulate a bit of that bat magic back again, but the Giants could use him in late-game defensive substitutions if the situation was right. For example, Joc Pederson, although Zaidi seemed to indicate he would not see the field much, could be replaced by Aquino late in games to help solidify the outfield late.

Obtaining Aquino would be a lowkey good move, and it goes without it that it would look better on the surface if the Giants could bring in Judge, Correa/Turner, or any other big-ticket free agent, seeming as fans have been frustrated with the penny-pinching moves and want more of the big spending. However, not even 30, on the cheaper side, great defensively, and with a lot to prove, bringing in Aquino might be a good idea for all parties involved.