The Cincinnati Reds have made a bunch of roster moves before the game tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals. Two of the moves are at the big league level. The team optioned Josh VanMeter to the alternate site at Prasco Park. Taking his place on the big league roster is outfielder Mark Payton. The team also sent Robel García from the taxi squad to Prasco Park and placed right-handed pitcher José De León onto the taxi squad.
There’s a lot going on here, so let’s dive in a little bit deeper. With Mark Payton, he has been added to the 40-man roster. While he was the teams Rule 5 pick earlier this year, and would have had to have remained on the roster all season, when the team sent him back to Oakland, that stipulation disappeared. The Reds traded for him a few weeks later, and now he’s capable of being optioned back-and-forth without having to risk another team selecting him. As of right now, there was an open spot on the 40-man roster as Nick Senzel does not count as being on it while on the injured list. When he returns, though, the team will need to make a roster move to clear a spot on the 40-man.
For Payton, he’s likely going to step into the left-handed hitting role that was being served by Josh VanMeter. Payton, who is also left-handed, has never played in the Major Leagues. Last season he really broke out in Triple-A, hitting .334/.400/.653 with 30 doubles, 3 triples, and 30 home runs in just 447 plate appearances. While he was solid against left-handed pitchers in Triple-A, he obliterated right-handed pitchers to the tune of .357/.417/.697 last year in the minors.
When the road trip started for the Cincinnati Reds they had no pitchers on their taxi squad, instead going with five position players. They are changing that up today, adding José De León to the taxi squad just in case. While he may not be needed to step in, if the team does need to add a pitcher in a pinch, they can now do that with more ease than making a call to Cincinnati and booking a flight overnight to their destination.
For Josh VanMeter, he’s heading back to Prasco Park. He’s been hitting the ball hard, lately. But he’s still not been hitting the ball often, and even while hitting it hard when he was making contact, the results simply weren’t showing up. The Reds decided that for now it was time to give someone else a shot and to let VanMeter try to get things a bit more right out in Mason at Prasco Park.