Lots of interesting decisions are going to be made today with respect to the composition of Cincinnati’s 40-man roster:

The deadline to protect players on the 40-man roster is Friday. Those eligible for the Rule 5 Draft include anyone not on the 40-man roster who was signed as an 18-year-old in 2012, or at 19 years or older in ’13.

Currently, the Reds have 33 men on their 40-man roster, leaving seven openings. Moves were made over the past couple of weeks to clear space, which included designating for assignment and trading pitcher John Lamb to the Rays; losing reliever Josh Smith on waivers to the A’s; and outrighting infielders Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Hernan Iribarren, outfielder Yorman Rodriguez, starting pitcher Jon Moscot and relievers Caleb Cotham and Matt Magill. More moves are possible.

So the Reds have seven spots available on the 40-man; that number could increase, depending on whether the Reds make any more moves before today’s deadline. Either way, there are a bunch of spots available. So many, in fact, that I’m still hopeful that the Reds will give me one of the spots. Hey, it could happen.

If you need a quick primer on the Rule 5 draft, minor league guru Doug Gray has a pretty good one:

To protect a player simply means to add them to the 40-man roster. That gives them a bump up in salary from the minor league wage scale to $41,400 (pro-rated for the minor league season – they get MLB money if they spend time in the big leagues) for their first year and an additional bump in the following years ($81,200). It also means that you are starting their option clocks if they don’t make the team and are sent to the minor leagues at any point moving forward.

If a team were to select any player, that player must remain on their 25-man roster for the entire season. The player can be placed on the disabled list, but must have 90 days on the active 25-man roster in a season. If they don’t, they must complete that 90 days the following season before they can be sent back to the minor leagues without being offered back to the team in which they were drafted from. That also means that the team is making a serious financial commitment to the player. The league minimum salary is $507,000. With how contracts are set up, even if the player is sent to the minor leagues the next year, they must make at least 60% of what they were paid the year before, which is another $304,000 the next season.

Simple, right? What’s not quite so simple is this question: who will the Reds add to the 40-man roster and, thus, protect from selection in the Rule 5 draft?

The answer: Jesse Winker.

After that, who knows? There are guys like Aristides Aquino and Keury Mella and Phillip Ervin and Nick Travieso and Ismael Guillon who stand good chances of being protected. I’d be astounded if Travieso and Aquino, in particular, weren’t added to the 40-man. Actually, all those guys seem likely to me.

Doug has a pretty good run-down of those players that he’d protect, and those that he wouldn’t. I’d recommend checking out both of those pieces. And we’ll have the news for you here at Redleg Nation as soon as we find out what decisions the Reds have made.