The Cincinnati Reds have decided to possibly part ways with outfielder Aristides Aquino. Should the Arizona Diamondbacks take a chance on the Punisher? What are the pluses and minuses of doing so? What is the DFA process?
What is the Designated For Assignment Process?
When a player is DFA'd, he is immediately taken off the team's 40-man roster and the team's active list (currently 28 man but will be 26 man on May 2nd). After that, the club has seven days to do one of the following; trade the player, release the player, non-tender the player, or outright the player to the minors. Trading a player is self-explanatory. Releasing a player first requires that player to pass through unconditional waivers; if this happens, that means all other 29 MLB teams did not claim the player. When a player is claimed on release waivers the player can reject that claim and become a free agent. Lastly, teams very rarely claim players off release waivers because the claiming team is responsible for the players remaining salary for that season. Non-tender does not apply in this case because it typically happens in the off-season when a team believes the raise the player will receive in the arbitration process is more significant than what they are deserved based on their on-field performance. If a player is claimed off the DFA waiver by another club, he is immediately added to that teams 40 man roster. If the player has minor league options left, he can then be sent to the team's minor leagues. A claiming team may also place another player on an injured list to make room for the claimed player.
We Have Looked at the Process, Now the Player
The pluses of Aristides are long; he can play and has played all three outfield positions in his time for the Reds. He is only 27 years old and is an outstanding defensive outfielder in any spot you place him. He has deceptive speed, which allows him to "go and get" baseballs hit to the outfield grass; his speed also allows him to go first to third if the situation presents itself frequently. No one on the Reds roster has a better arm; he would also be the best outfield arm on the Diamondbacks roster. I remember when the Reds dealt Yasiel Puig to Cleveland, and Aquino became the anointed right fielder. He had an unbelievable month of August in 2019, historic. He hit 15 home runs in August and had a slash line of .313/.379/.750 in 124 plate appearances. Aquino won National League Player of the month, and in 56 games to close out the 2019 season, he had a wRC+ of 117. The contact off his bat is loud, it just sounds different, but he has to make contact first, which brings us to the minuses of his game.
His nickname became "The Punisher" and when he hit a baseball it was punished, but he didn't hit many baseballs after his torrid start. Since 2020 Aquino has hit .179/.289/.372 with only 12 baseballs punished over the outfield wall. But the most alarming statistic is his strikeout rate of 37.4%. Unfortunately, that trend continued this season as well, in his first 43 plate appearances he has only two hits. One of those hits was a home run off of a very good pitcher in Walker Buehler in Dodger Stadium.
He provides the one thing that the Diamondbacks sorely miss in their line-up: power. He is a superb "change of scenery" candidate. But, he will have to get out of his funk at the Major League level because he is out of options. Plus, there is also another problem. With the recent success of the Diamondbacks, 6-4 in their last ten and a two game winning streak, they actually would be the 11th team in line of the 30 teams to make a waiver claim on Aquino. So, I don't think he would be there for a claim at that point. But they could trade for him, and with the rosters having to be trimmed to 26 on May 2nd, they may be able to turn a bullpen piece, which the Reds need, into Aristides Aquino. If you could turn a bullpen piece you are looking to release into AA, such as Taylor Widener, Tyler Gilbert, or J.B. Wendelken, I am all for that, and I think that would be the only way he would be in sedona red.