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Cincinnati Reds: Who Does the Team Turn to in the Outfield in 2013?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 06:  (L-R) Chris Heisey #28, Jay Bruce #32 and Drew Stubbs #6 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrate their teams 5-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants in Game One of the National League Division Series at AT&T Park on October 6, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 30, 2012

The Cincinnati Reds are just about done spending money this offseason, so what does that mean for the team's outfield next season?

The team does not have to worry about right field.

Jay Bruce, who received some votes for the 2012 National League MVP, will continue to swing the bat and play defense that will eventually win him a Gold Glove.

Other than Bruce, the outfield is unsettled.

Cincinnati has gone through several left fielders in recent years, and it looks like the team will be looking for another player to play there next season.

It doesn't look like the Reds will be willing to overpay to keep last year's cleanup hitter Ryan Ludwick. So with limited funds, the team has to figure out who plays in the outfield.

Here's what the outfield should look like on Opening Day: LF Chris Heisey, CF Drew Stubbs, RF Jay Bruce.

Fans are fed up with Stubbs and his low batting average, but he has too much talent to give up on. He hit over .280 against left-handers last season. He has unbelievable speed and plays better defense than Heisey.

The 28-year-old had his struggles last season, but the team doesn't have many options. Give Stubbs another season. He could turn it around, which would make this team nearly unbeatable in the playoffs. If he fails, prospect Billy Hamilton will be up in a year or two.

As for Heisey, he deserves a chance to be an everyday starter.

The versatile outfielder was passed over for Jonny Gomes in 2011, and Ludwick won the head-to-head competition last season. Not saying Heisey will be a special player, but he deserves the opportunity to finally start on a consistent basis.

Heisey leaves it all on the field, and he brings tons of energy to the team. He can take an extra base or make a spectacular diving play in the outfield.

Cincinnati should avoid going after players like Grady Sizemore to bring in to compete for a starting spot, and there's nobody reasonably priced on the free-agent market who is better than the team's current options.

Signing Sizemore to fill the leadoff spot would be like handing out another Ryan Madson contract. 

Can the Reds win the NL Central in 2013 with their current outfield? 

No doubt. 

It would be the most athletic and best defensive outfield in the majors. The trio would hit well enough to run away with the division again. It may not be pretty at times, but a win is a win.

Unless Ludwick lowers his asking price, he will be gone. If that's the case, Cincinnati should feel very confident with its outfield next season.

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