If you somehow missed the news, the Cincinnati Reds traded Sonny Gray to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday afternoon for prospect Chase Petty. That opened up another spot in the rotation, leaving Cincinnati with two of them after moving Gray in a trade and losing Wade Miley on waivers to the Chicago Cubs earlier in the offseason. With two spots up for grabs the internal options must be salivating at being able to grab the opportunity presented to them.
Added to the 40-man roster in November, right-handed pitcher Hunter Greene is coming off of a strong season that was split between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville in 2021. After missing the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery and then spending the 2020 season at the Reds alternate site with the minor league season cancelled, Greene got back on the mound in 2021 and posted a 3.30 ERA over 21 starts and 106.1 innings pitched. The then 21-year-old allowed just 86 hits, walked just 39 batters, and he struck out 139 opposing hitters.
“We’re all excited to see Hunter,” said Reds manager David Bell. “He’s healthy, had a full season last year. We know what he’s capable of, the kind of person he is, the kind of talent he is. I believe he’s ready. This creates even more of an opportunity for Hunter. Hunter just has to go out and be himself, do his thing, and that’ll take care of itself. We’re looking forward to seeing him pitch and seeing where he is.”
Greene isn’t the only highly touted prospect vying for a spot in the Cincinnati rotation. Left-handed pitcher Nick Lodolo has looked good in the early parts of camp (he was a non-roster invitee and was also in early minor league camp, so he’s been pitching in Goodyear for a few weeks now). In 2021 when he was on the mound, he dominated to the tune of a 2.31 ERA in 13 starts between Double-A and Triple-A. The problem was that he simply wasn’t on the mound much. He missed over a month while dealing with blisters – an issue he and the Reds believe they have figured out and shouldn’t be an issue moving forward – and then he missed the final month of the season with a shoulder issue.
“Nick had a little bit of a set back from a health standpoint (last year),” said Bell. “I saw him pitch, I saw him yesterday or the day before and he looks completely healthy. He’s going to get an opportunity. Another guy that it doesn’t have to happen Opening Day – but it could. It absolutely could. We’ll just see where he is and just kind of evaluate that over the next couple of weeks.”
Unlike Greene, Lodolo isn’t on the 40-man roster. The left-hander didn’t need to be added this offseason like Greene did, but right now there is no roster crunch, either. After trading away Sonny Gray the Reds now only have 37 players on the 40-man roster. That may change with more trades or free agent signings, but there’s more than a little wiggle room when it comes to open spots to add players to the team if they impress this spring.