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.