The Cincinnati Reds roster isn’t yet set, but we are getting closer to figuring out how it will play out. But if it plays out as expected the team is going to need to create some spots on the 40-man roster.

The rotation has only had four players named so far. Nick Lodolo is expected to be the 5th starter to begin the season, but he hasn’t been named yet. If that does happen he will require a 40-man spot. Brandon Drury, perhaps a little bit due to injury to Donovan Solano, is almost a guarantee to make the roster because he’s being viewed as the backup shortstop at this point. He is not on the 40-man roster and would require a spot.

Whoever the backup catcher to Tyler Stephenson is will also require a 40-man spot as both Aramis Garcia and Andrew Knapp are not currently on the 40-man. While we don’t know which direction the team will go, it’s worth pointing out that Garcia has five home runs this spring and that is five more hits than Andrew Knapp has this spring. While spring training stats shouldn’t be used to make roster decisions – neither guy has a track record in the big leagues (they have a .629 and a .636 OPS in their careers) – one guy has absolutely killed the ball and another guy literally doesn’t have a hit this spring.

And then there is the bullpen. Buck Farmer is the only healthy non-40-man roster player still in big league camp that’s in the bullpen. He’s dominated on the mound, allowing just one hit and striking out eight batters in his 4.0 innings so far. Assuming he stays healthy it feels highly probable that he’s making the team.

All of that leads to the team seemingly in need of four spots on the 40-man roster. Without injuries to Donovan Solano, Mike Minor, Jose Barrero, and Luis Castillo, perhaps the Reds wouldn’t need nearly as many spots opened up. But those injuries happened and those moves are likely going to be made.

That leads to the question of where do those roster spots come from? The first one seems easy – Justin Dunn to the 60-day injured list. The pitcher has been injured since last June (he made one rehab appearance in Triple-A last September and left with an injury after a few pitches and hasn’t pitched since) and is said to be expected to miss “a couple of months”.

Beyond that, though, there are still going to be a few spots needed. Many feel that another spot would come from the decision in the outfield that seems to be a situation where the team keeps one of and loses one of Aristides Aquino and Shogo Akiyama. Neither of them has hit much this spring, with Aquino going 4-21 with a double and a home run, and Akiyama going 4-22 with no extra-base hits or walks. It’s very likely one spot is created here, but possible two spots could be cleared if the team goes with four outfielders and has Max Schrock as a potential 5th outfielder if needed (while also playing around the infield if and when needed).

Even if those three spots wind up being cleared, the team would still need to find another opening. Cincinnati’s front office could be working the phones to try and find a trade that would open up a spot or two. But time is running out before opening day and they may just be forced to make a tough decision or three when it comes to the 40-man crunch that they are facing.

30 Responses

  1. Jimbo44CN

    I believe Aquino will get hits and is starting to make better contact if he gets more at bats. Shogo unfortunately is nothing but strike out or bloops. But who knows. They may keep him just cause they owe him more money, but he does not deserve to be on a ML roster.

    • BK

      Aquino’s hot start in 2019 was truly tantalizing. That said, he turns 28 in less than 3 weeks and has 486 PAs under his belt at the MLB level. Defensively, he’s solid in RF, but looks passable, but uncomfortable in other outfield spots, so he’s not tremendously versatile. Although fast, he’s been a below average base runner. What Aquino has going for him is that Naquin is bad against LHP. Although Aquino doesn’t have strong splits against LHP, he is markedly better than Naquin. For this reason, I expect the Reds to hold onto him as a platoon partner in RF for Naquin. This is a roster spot the Reds should be looking to upgrade as Aquino’s body of work says he’s a below average hitter unlikely to ever reach the ceiling we hope for based on his incredible power, speed and arm strength tools.

      • DaveCT

        Completely agree. The team should DFA Acquino. It’s simple. Slider away.

      • LDS

        If the Reds “can’t” trade Aquino, they aren’t trying or the FO is simply incompetent. He’s young enough and cheap enough that someone would take a shot at him. To simply DFA him would be negligence.

      • burtgummer01

        The front office dumped Miley for nothing
        Dumped their best hitting outfielder for scrubs
        Dumped a gold glove catcher for a table scrap
        It’s beyond negligence

      • Matt WI

        Very well said on Aquino. Wanted him to succeed and be the next Eric Davis (minus CF) but it seems so clear it’s time to let the dream die.

      • 2020ball

        What would you trade for Aquino? Maybe cash but thats about it. If the Reds decide not to roster him, a DFA seems the only option to me

      • DaveCT

        LDS, as for malpractice, I’d hope even this front office has been shopping Acquino. Whether now, or on the last roster move before opening day, or even later this spring, it’s time to move on from Acquino. I’d DFA in order to give him more of a chance to catch on somewhere. Fifth outfielders are a dime a dozen.

      • BK

        If Aquino has trade value, the Reds will get a return when/if he is DFA, but don’t expect much in return. He simply has not turned his tools into skills that translate into a starting MLB right fielder.

        Angels DFA Upton today. Based on his contract no one will claim him. He’s significantly better against LHP than Aquino and would provide an upgrade if he’s available for an MLB minimum contract.

  2. LDS

    It sure seems like many of the players acquired this offseason: Dunn, Solano, Moran, Minor were bad pickups and should be off tbe 40. Never liked the idea of Pirate retreads. That should have been a warning sign. The OF is still concerning. Depending on Naquin and Senzel to stay healthy for the entire season (+Moustakas) seems like a serious roll of the dice and not one likely to be in the team’s favor. Maybe Pham works out but at least Aquino seems durable. It’s not an encouraging picture.

    • 2020ball

      Dunn i keep no question, theres upside there so why cut ties already, seems silly to me. Solano is a decent player, just not sure why they felt the need to add final pieces to a team with huge holes in key areas. minor and moran leave me scratching my head, really strange acquisitions.

      • MK

        Weren’t you scratcging your head about Miley at this time last spring?

      • 2020ball

        Nope, i liked the Miley acquisition. Im generally positive if no ones noticed, i had no reason to doubt Miley off of two good seasons. Minor has struggled, so im pretty skeptical. Im especially skeptical of the Reds dump salary and go young and then pivot to signing question marks to supplement a roster they traded from for prospects.

        Since i posted i read that moran has an option, so maybe thats their plan. Who knows with this franchise rn.

  3. BK

    Lodolo has looked good this spring, but I’ve learned over the years that spring training results are quite deceptive. If the Reds believe he’s major league-ready then opening up a roster spot for him is an easy decision. But if he’s not ready, I wouldn’t burn a 40-man spot this early in the season. I think there are other options:

    Keeping the starting pitchers on 5 days of rest, the Reds will only need a fifth starter on April 16 and 30. (1) Might Castillo be ready by April 16 even if it’s just for 3-4 innings? (2) With a 10 to 11-man bullpen, couldn’t the Reds absorb a couple of bullpen days?

    • MBS

      I was thinking the same thing, if Castillo or Minor are back after only missing 1 or 2 starts, bullpen days are the best alternative. I am a little nervous that Greene is going to get rocked, then sent down when Castillo and Minor are back. I don’t compounding the problem by having that happen to Lodolo to, is helpful in anyway. Both need to push their way onto the roster this year.

  4. BK

    As for a backup shortstop, Mark Sheldon’s reporting indicates Solano will be available by mid April. Wouldn’t it be better to go with Alejo Lopez for 10 days to 2 weeks rather than Drury? If the answer to that question is “no”, then I would suggest Lopez’s 40-man roster spot is vulnerable.

    • MuddyCleats

      Great pt. Kid handles the bat well, but really don’t see his upside? Really no pop & marginal n the field & as a runner

    • Melvin

      Didn’t know Lopez was on the 40 man. I like him.

      • MBS

        I like Lopez as well, but the Reds seem hesitant to bring him up. Lopez and Cedrola are 2 guys I’d like to see on the roster, but I can understand the organization’s hesitance. Both high contact hitters, but without much thump.

        The AAA team might be very good this year, hopefully several of these young guys force the Reds hands this year.

  5. MBS

    Cut: Aquino / Shogo / Moran, Add: Garcia

  6. Kevin Patrick

    Might the Reds have more faith in Buck Farmer than Hendrix? Is it possible that the Reds wonder whether Hendrix will get command of the strike zone in a timely enough manner? If Lopez is vulnerable, I would surely think Hendrix is too. Or do you like Drury better than Moran? Moran has looked poor this spring. If you have a healthy Moose, India, Shrock, and Farmer, I’d think Moran would be redundant when Barrero comes back.

  7. MK

    Moran can be DFAed really not a need for him as Shrick can do what they signed Moran for (backup at 1st and 3rd and left handed DH). Just wonder if Kolozsvary would clear waivers to be outrighted to Louisville.

  8. Hotto4Votto

    I’d DFA Akiyama, Moran, O’Brien, and Solomon to make room for the 4 that need roster spots.

  9. Doc

    Don’t know how you can make such a judgement barely ending the second week of ST.

    Dunn – if Reds knew he was hurt and took him anyway, then there must have been a reason. He was highly drafted. At least need to let him get well and see what he has to offer.

    Solano – the guy is a backup SS. He wasn’t bad this ST but he got injured. Good heavens! Give the guy a chance to recover and see if he can fill the role, at least until Barrero is back.

    Minor is behind. Reportedly is feeling fine. Cutting him and eating his salary before he even steps on the field is foolish, in my opinion. He is ahead of Castillo in recovery as I read the tea leaves.

    Moran – don’t know much about him but playing in maybe 6-7 ST games so far is not an adequate trial.

    Someone else referred to the return for Winker as scrubs. Good Grief, Charlie Brown. Williamson was a high draft pick and hasn’t even had a chance to work his way through the minors. One of the outfielders, JF, has had a good spring and has a chance to make the OD roster, if not this year then shortly down the road. Already commented on Dunn.

    I’d hate to be hired by some of you guys. Show up at the office, barely find the restrooms and be sent packing before even having a chance to demonstrate proficiency on useful work. Even when I was a fresh out of college chemical engineer my company’s general feeling was it took 3 years for a new engineer to begin to pay his or her way. Get real.

    • Redsvol

      Can’t agree more @doc. No way the front office is giving up on guys they just traded for. Many of the guys traded for are distant and high upside. Just the type many on the board here we’re complaining that we didn’t go for during the 2014 purge.

      They might give up on Lopez and Solomon just because they’ve seen them and know them better than any other team. I wouldn’t give up on Lopez though.
      They might dfa Moran if they think one of the other corner guys gives them more defensive options. He didn’t sign for much (1m$ I think). He appears to be very limited in the field. Solano is a keeper. He has a proven track record and he hits left Handers – a huge weakness of ours last 2 years.

    • Doug Gray

      Yes, Moran has an option. But having an option doesn’t remove you from the 40-man. And if you DFA him then the option doesn’t matter because it won’t be used.

  10. JB

    If Reds keep 14 position players, then I believe they keep 3 right handed hitters and 3 left.
    1) Garcia (R)
    2)Fraley (L)
    3)Shrock (L)
    4) Drury (R)
    5) Akiyama (L)
    6) Aqiuno (R)

    Akiyama makes it because Reds are to cheap to let him go. Aquino makes it because he is the only right-handed batter basically left. Moran is left handed and it’s between him and Akiyama. Huge difference in salaries. Plus Moran is a defensive liability and terrible running the basepaths. When Salano comes back it’s between Aquino and Drury. Take advantage of your chances . Of course everything changes if they can find a team to trade with.