Who Do You Buy, Sell, or Hold on the Reds?

At the season’s two-month mark, let’s evaluate every player and see who’s improving, who’s declining, and who’s just hanging around.
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We are exactly two months into the 2022 Major League Baseball season, and this seems like a good moment to take stock of your Cincinnati Reds. To say it’s been a roller coaster campaign would be an understatement. From the second worst start in baseball history to a resurgence that put the club among the hottest in baseball for a short while, there hasn’t been a dull moment.

Your Redlegs are currently 19-35, 13 games out of first place in the National League Central. Yes, that sounds bad, but when you consider they were 3-22 at one point … well, it still sounds bad. But as we discussed last week, the Reds have been on an upswing lately, thanks to some unlikely characters (as well as a few familiar faces).

Let’s break down the roster and assign some labels: Buy, Sell, or Hold. I told you we’re taking stock, right? A “Buy” recommendation means that the player should be expected to perform better the rest of the season. A “Sell” label is an indication that a player has overperformed his general talent level and should be expected to decline. And “Hold?” Let’s wait and see.

Hitters

Tyler Stephenson: BUY. Ty Steve is hitting .298/.354/.443 while battling through some injuries. And at age 25, he’s only going to get better. Buy as much Stephenson stock as you can get. It’ll go through the roof when he’s named to his first All-Star team in a month.

Joey Votto: BUY. An ugly slash line: .184/.320/.352. But if you’ve watched Votto since he returned to the roster in mid-May, you’d know that he’s back. He’s hitting .275/.383/.667 in that span, with 11 extra-base hits in 15 games. The franchise GOAT looks just like the Votto we saw last year and is poised for a huge second half.

Tommy Pham: SELL. Please, just sell him to whatever team will take him. Pham’s numbers since his horrific 0-26 start to the season have actually been pretty good: .278/.371/.444 with six homers, but he’s been a distraction from the start. I see no reason to believe that’s going to change anytime soon.

Jonathan India: BUY. India has played in just 11 games thanks to a lingering hamstring injury. He’s scheduled to go out on a rehab assignment this week and should be back in Cincinnati shortly. I’m buying India stock, and his return will boost the Reds’ offense significantly.

Brandon Drury: HOLD. I strongly considered a SELL recommendation here, but Drury is interesting. In 96 games over the last two seasons (272 plate appearances) he’s hit .263/.316/.478 with 13 home runs and 41 RBI (and a 112 OPS+). Sure, that performance is the best in his big league career, and he’s 29 years old now. He’s a former top-100 prospect who reached the big leagues at age 22. Even if his numbers come back to earth, he can help this team as a backup at least.

Kyle Farmer: HOLD. Not a SELL, because I don’t want to be harassed by the Kyle Farmer Fan Club on Twitter and because Farmer can actually help a team if used correctly. A recent hot streak has bumped his numbers up in the neighborhood of last year’s career highs, but he’s still a below-average hitter whose defense has been shaky this season.

Mike Moustakas: SELL. Back on the injured list once again, I’ve given up all hope of Moose ever contributing to this team. In three seasons with the Reds, he’s hit .212/.307/.383 (79 OPS+) with 17 home runs and 60 RBI in roughly a full season’s worth of games (147). That’s just brutal.

Tyler Naquin: HOLD. Naquin has been pretty good for the second consecutive season, but he can’t stay healthy.

Nick Senzel: HOLD. Not a SELL recommendation, only because his defense has been Gold Glove-worthy and because of his former status as a top prospect. But Senzel has to start hitting at some point, or he starts to look a lot like Billy Hamilton.

Matt Reynolds: SELL. He’s 31 years old and getting consistent at-bats for the first time in his big league career. I’m not optimistic. Reynolds is a bench player at best.

Aristides Aquino: SELL. Since that magical rookie year when he mashed everything he saw in August, Aquino has posted a slash line of .176/.272/.369 in 132 games. One of the nicest guys around, but very little reason for optimism going forward.

Albert Almora Jr.: SELL. On the one hand, he’s hitting .309. On the other hand, that’s just a 20-game sample, and he’s had very little success anywhere else in his career. He’s a fifth outfielder at best.

Aramis Garcia: HOLD. He’s a backup catcher. What did you expect?

Alejo Lopez: BUY. He’s nothing more than a backup infielder, so adjust your expectations. But he’s a .300 hitter who always got on base in the minors. Lopez can help this team off the bench, and I’d expect him to put the bat on the ball more as the season progresses. If he gets an opportunity, that is.

Jake Fraley: SELL. Mostly because I barely remember this guy.

Pitchers

Tyler Mahle: BUY. Mahle has been inconsistent thus far, but the dude was 15-8 with a 3.72 ERA over the last two seasons. He’s only 27. His last two starts, in which he surrendered just three runs, are more indicative of his talent level. Mahle will get it together. The big question: Will he be pitching for the Reds down the stretch, or will he be traded?

Hunter Greene: BUY. Are you kidding? Buy every share of Hunter Greene stock you can find.

Luis Castillo: HOLD. He’s 2-3 with a 3.55 ERA. Castillo is good. Will he be better the rest of the way? It’s hard to say, but he’s certainly the most likely Red to be wearing a different uniform in August. Which makes me sad, but I’ll save that for a future column.

Vladimir Gutierrez: HOLD. Or sell. I’m not sure it matters.

Jeff Hoffman: SELL. Or hold. I’m not sure it matters.

Alexis Diaz: BUY. Is Diaz better than his brother? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out.

Connor Overton: HOLD. He’s been the best starter for the Reds this season (1-0, 1.82 ERA in four starts), but he’s on the 60-day IL and I’m not willing to bet on him. He was so great in a short span that I’m not willing to sell his stock either. I may end up losing money on this one.

Luis Cessa: HOLD. We need relievers, and he’s somewhat competent.

Art Warren: HOLD. We need relievers, and he was good last year. That’s something, right?

Hunter Strickland: SELL. And then sell him again, if possible.

Tony Santillan: HOLD. I’m high on Santillan, given his performance in the minors. He has the stuff to be a legitimate big league, back-of-the-bullpen reliever. But he’s been inconsistent (which is to be expected at age 25), so I need to see more before I’m willing to hang a “buy” recommendation on him.

Graham Ashcraft: BUY. And then buy him again, if possible. If nothing else, the 24-year-old has the makings of an elite reliever. If everything breaks right, he’s a middle of the rotation starter. I’m buying all the Graham Ashcraft stock on the market.

Nick Lodolo: HOLD. Great pedigree, and looked good in his three starts. But I need to see him get healthy and perform consistently at the big league level.

Lucas Sims: SELL. I was high on Sims at one point, and it’s possible that I’ll regret this take. But he’s had difficulty staying healthy and has yet to perform well since MLB banned the sticky stuff. I’m not optimistic.

Mike Minor: WHO CARES?

Ownership

Bob Castellini/Phil Castellini: SELL. More specifically: #SellTheTeamBob

Chad Dotson authors Reds coverage at Cincinnati Magazine and hosts a long-running Reds podcast, The Riverfront. His first book, The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds, is available in bookstores and online.

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