The acquisition of Sonny Gray and the ensuing comments of Dick Williams let us know that the Reds are almost… but maybe not quite done. As things stand, the Roster is already pretty crowded, and now is a good time to pause, take a look, and get some perspective. Let’s start with the position players.
That’s 13 players and only three of them are even slightly in question. Senzel may not start the year with the Reds, but he has nothing left to prove in the minors and will be up to stay sooner rather than later. Where he plays is another matter. Blandino was hurt last year, and whether or not he’ll be ready to start the season is somewhat in question, but he’s the perfect backup, and Blake Trahan and Connor Joe can fill gap for a few weeks if that’s needed.
The outfield is very interesting, both because it’s deep and because it’s an area the Reds could still stand to improve. There is no centerfielder and only two players (Winker and Puig) who profile as true everyday players. A.J. Pollack is still out there and – on a team with this much OF depth, his injury risk is somewhat mitigated. If the Reds do sign a true CF, Schebler becomes the fourth OF who gets a lot of playing time (probably the best role for him) and Ervin plays in Louisville. Also the outfield goes from being solid enough to legitimately good.
Now let’s take a gander at the pitching staff, which is no less crowded:
Those are just the absolute locks. Robert Stephenson is out of options. Cody Reed, you have to figure, has the inside track in the bullpen. There’s also Wandy Peralta, Matt Wisler, Matt Bowman, Brandon Finnegan, and I’m probably forgetting several pitchers. There’s also Tyler Mahle and Sal Romano for rotational depth in the minors. These are not bad choices for rotation depth and long men/emergency relievers.
Depending on how you feel about Cody Reed, the Reds currently have a team with 24 out of 25 roster spots spoken for.
Now yes, it is true that injuries will happen, but we can all take comfort in the fact that the Reds have already assembled a very solid major league roster. In fact, if we look at it, in how many positions do the Reds figure to not be average or better? Only catchers and one OF spot (Schebler) have a history that suggests less than 2.0 WAR. The pitching rotation looks almost perfectly average overall with, essentially, a bunch of number three starters, some of whom have high ceilings.
What I really want, more than anything, is for the Reds to play the best 25 players right from the start (yes, yes, Senzel noises, let’s agree to disagree on that). It seems like the Reds are mostly committed to that. And this commitment makes them a truly competitive team for the first time in much too long.
And, just like that, I’ve talked myself into the Reds as contenders. If they acquire one more player who genuinely improves the team, we may be in a place where the only thing that can hold them back is the strength of their division.