The Cincinnati Reds made five roster cuts this evening, optioning Elly De La Cruz, Ricky Karcher, and Casey Legumina to Triple-A, and sending Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Matt McLain to minor league camp.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand has arguably been the best hitter in spring training among every single player on the planet. He’s hitting .577 and slugging 1.192 with two doubles, a triple, and four home runs. He’s only struck out two times in 27 plate appearances. While spring training stats don’t necessarily predict future success when the season begins, to cut a guy doing that on March 14th is certainly a decision. As a non-40-man roster player he was simply reassigned to minor league camp.

Among the other players in big league camp, Matt McLain may have been hitting better than anyone not named Christian Encarnacion-Strand. McLain hit a walk-off home run early in camp and hasn’t really slowed down all that much since. In his 24 plate appearances the infielder has hit .375 and slugged .688 while walking eight times and striking out just three time. Like Encarnacion-Strand, he’s not on the 40-man roster so he was simply reassigned to minor league camp.

Top prospect Elly De La Cruz was also sent back to minor league camp as the team optioned the shortstop this evening. He got out to a slow start in the spring but had picked it up a little bit of late. In his 27 plate appearances he was hitting .200/.259/.480 with two triples and a home run. He was optioned to Triple-A Louisville. That option destination, however, isn’t written in stone until the season actually begins (in the minors). For now it’s all just book keeping for available roster spots. That said, he likely does wind up starting in Triple-A this season.

Joining De La Cruz in being optioned to Triple-A were pitchers Casey Legumina and Ricky Karcher. Legumina had pitched in four games and given up seven runs in 5.1 innings (11.81 ERA), giving up eight hits, two home runs, two walks, a hit batter, and he struck out five. Karcher had allowed just two runs in his six appearances that covered 6.0 innings (3.00 ERA), but walked seven batters with five strikeouts in that time.

75 Responses

  1. Redsfan11

    More incompetence and penny pinching

    • greenmtred

      It might be, though those guys wouldn’t be getting paid much by MLB standards. The most important job right now is to do whatever most enhances the development of these promising young players. I don’t pretend to know what course of action best accomplishes that and doubt that any of us do. I share the disappointment in not seeing CES and EDLC and McClain from the get-go, but they’ll likely be up soon.

  2. LDS

    Pretty much expected but would rather have seen Pinder sent down than McLain or CES

    • JB

      Pinder is the next skip Schumaker, Matt Davidson,Christian Colon, Mark Payton,Travis Jankowski, Mike Freeman, Delino Deshields,Mark Heineman,JT Riddle,Colin Moran, Taylor Motter, Michael Papierski. Just great players on the bench that we couldn’t wait to see.

  3. Redsvol

    I would think this means Joey votto will start the year on the active squad. Little surprised Matt McLain was cut so early.

    But really the focus needs to be on finding some reliable bullpen pieces and another back end rotation starter.

    • MK

      RedsVol, It really isn’t that early. There are only 11 ST game days left. The guys who will be on the Opening Day roster, innings and at bats, none of whom were cut today need the playing time to get honed in.
      Plus, the guys cut need to get those same innings and at bats in the minor league ST.

  4. CI3J

    Welp, I suddenly became a lot less interested in watching Reds Spring Training games. I guess I can still watch for Barrero and Benson, but I don’t expect either of them to be starters as long as David Bell is in charge.

    • JayTheRed

      With you. I was hoping they would at least wait until the end of spring training to cut a lot of these players that were either sent down or optioned. If Pinder makes the opening day, I’ll be sick the dude has shown nothing so far.

      Like you I feel like Bell is going to go with the Vets mostly. I wish Krall would cut or trade these veterans that are not producing anything kind of like in Moneyball when the GM came to the manager and said you can’t play him at first because he has been traded or been released. hahaha… Favorite part of that movie for me.

  5. Melvin

    Well, so much for doing their best to get off to a fast start. Leaving the hottest hitter in ST off the 26 man roster tells it all.

  6. Mark A Verticchio

    i was interested in spring training until today. Well, with this philosophy another 3-22 start is possible. Please tell me why other teams aren’t doing this crap. I know it’s about service time but this organization really needs a boost and CES was giving fans something to look forward to as well as Mclain. I wonder has opening day sold out yet? If not these news won’t help. Looks like another long year, out of contention by mid April.

    • CI3J

      Even with CES and McClain on the roster, this team wasn’t likely to be competitive this season.

      However, since they aren’t going to compete anyway, I’d much rather watch the kids play than a bunch of journeyman AAAA players. At least with the kids, there’s some hope and excitement for the future. Why should I care about some 30-something player with a career 85 OPS+ who won’t be here next season?

      • Roger Garrett

        I agree 1000% and will add that open competition thing that Krall brought up before camp opened must not have been true as far as CES and McClain were concerned.Guess I missed something.

      • AC

        McClain plays where? I guess India is a AAAA player? The fact of the matter is that, while they don’t have nearly enough good players, the overlap happens to be where they actually do. Last I checked, CES can’t pitch. I’d rather have a Fairchild type over Pinder, but what are we really complaining about? This team has 4 pitchers that aren’t awful.

  7. Mark Moore

    Here’s hoping L’ville absolutely tears it up this year.

  8. JB WV

    I don’t have a problem with almost-ready MLB players playing every day at AAA. Hopefully they’ll be banging on the door in a short period of time and coming up. EDLC especially needs to prove he’s ready; he hasn’t been above AA yet. I’d hate to see these guys make the big club right away, struggle and lose confidence.

  9. MK

    Votto’s ascension to the big leagues was slowed at least a year, when it was obvious his bat would be very good in the future, because of his defense. As I remember it the GM said he needed to go to AAA and work on his defense. I imagine this had a lot to do with Christian as well. He could probably DH but not reason to retard that defensive development putting him there.

  10. David

    Just as an aside, Albert Pujols debuted as a 21 year old. He hit 37 homers and drove in 130 runs that season.
    At 21.
    Let’s keep CES, EDLC and some of the other guys down on the farm another season.
    Because, why not? And play Newman at short all season, and get Pinder on the 40 man because we need that utility and Veteran Presence. Now I wonder if Benson will even be on the 26 man roster, or if he even will play.
    (scratches head)
    What would Bob Howsam have done in this situation, after the Reds just lost 100 games in 2022?
    I guess I should not have been surprised, and I’m not. But I wonder what happens now?

    • Jim Walker

      To put it in Howsam’s vernacular, he would have taken and made a bunch of trades (and probably also sent the manager and virtually the entire MLB coaching staff packing).

      • David

        I bring up the Bob Howsam analogy, not because Bob was always right, but because he always tried to be truthful to ownership, the fans and to himself. Bob Howsam had character, intelligence, and WORKED to be successful. The one thing the Reds could have done in the off season, without spending a ton of money, was to get a better bullpen.

        I don’t think the present Reds’ management is stupid (ie, Nick Krall in particular), but they are deluding themselves, because of the unreality of how Top Management wants to run the team. Reds’ Top Management does really not have a clue as to how to make a winning team with the resources they have; and it is possible.
        They might convince themselves that they do know, but it is not the case in the real world. This long run of bad teams, going back to 2014, is driving the fans away.

    • Dennis Westrick

      Why stop at 100 losses? Let’s shoot for 120 losses this year! With D. Bell at the helm, the Reds will never win more than 80 games regardless of the roster!

      • greenmtred

        Well, Dennis, they won 83 in 2021. Selective amnesia is a common ailment, but easily remedied.

      • Old-school

        @GMR

        Hows the weather in your parts?

      • greenmtred

        Two feet plus of snow the past two days. Strong winds. Many power outages. March the way it used to be. Lot of shoveling and re-shoveling, and tomorrow I clear the woodshed roof because it’s supposed to rain on Friday. How’s your weather?

      • old-school

        Yikes. Cinci has been crummy the last week but today nicer. Florida beach on Saturday will be better. Might take in a ST game to get the juices going. Maybe check in with Nick C in Clearwater.

    • JinCH

      The reality is that Albert was actually more like 24 years old in his rookie season, but that’s a whole other conversation.

  11. Jim Walker

    So maybe Krall did a devil’s deal with Bell wherein Bell gets to keep who he wants on the 26 man roster as long as it doesn’t require moving anyone off the 40 man roster
    who Krall doesn’t want to risk losing from the organization to make space for Bell’s choices.

    The kicker would be Bell has to give Krall a signed resignation which Krall can put in force if the Reds have less than an agreed number of wins by 1 May.

    • LDS

      Bell gone? Not going to happen without anew ownership. I expect him back next year.

      • Harry Stoner

        Along with Pinder and Strickland, Reynolds and Newman.

  12. DataDumpster

    I still don’t favor David Bell but the moves made seem reasonable. Wonderful, CES and McClain are able to fill in a little sooner than expected. But, are they MLB ready on a regular basis? No, arrow to Minor league camp. Fill in later if/when Joey, Steer, Barrero, Senzel, etc. falters. At least 1 or 2 will. Krall filled in the OF with skill and who cares about Pinder and a few other “whose that.” David Bell is not a talented manager but does have self preservation skill especially when the rope shortens.

    Lets talk about pitching where very little clarity has surfaced. No, let’s not. The difference between 64 and 74 wins is right there. That’s the game changer for this ownership (and David Bell).

    • Harry Stoner

      Not sure how any of us here, or even the David Bell who isn’t even sure of Votto’s playing status, can be sure the CES or McLain “aren’t ready” for MLB based on their ST performance. What signs are there that they aren’t?

      The hash that Krall has made through drafting and trading for a heap of infielders hasn’t been attended to at all this Spring. The “plan” apparently is to send down the two best performing hitters until someone gets hurt.

      And bide time until something can get figured out.

      My anxiety talking (as Green Mountain said) but I was more concerned about Krall making another panic trade for mediocre pitching (a la Minor) and jettisoning hard earned prospects.

      I don’t think we’re out of the woods with that yet.

      I’m in total agreement, DD. Investing in the bullpen would be a ready +10 in the win column.

      Banking on Antone, Sims, Santillan was a fool’s errand.

      How many more times will we see the bullpen cough up a solid Greene or Lodolo performance and turn a W into an L? Lots.

      Krall owns that one.

      I’m already stoked for Pinder’s walk on music.

      • Old-school

        Castellini owns that one

        Krall didnt have the budget to sign $20 million worth of pitching

      • Jim Walker

        @Harry,
        The panic trade could still come.

      • greenmtred

        Those determinations probably aren’t based much on success against second and third-tier pitching in spring training. Input from scouts, coaches, catchers might indicate areas that need work.

      • Michael

        I saw a projection (Zips?) that CES will hit 27 HR’s this year and that was issued before ST.

    • Harry Stoner

      Where did the $20M figure come from?

      • Votto4life

        Harry, I think Old School means that Nick Krall must live within the budget that the Castellinis give him. Had the Castellinis given Krall another $20 Million to work with, he could have addressed the team’s pitching problems.

        I liked the Will Myer signing at the time, but I was assuming the team would also sign a solid fourth starter. It never occurred to me they would be content to start the season with just Greene, Lodolo and Ashcraft.

        Although I have been very critical of the Castellinis, I still thought for sure they would have added a pitcher to eat innings. The lesson here, never overestimate Reds ownership.

      • old-school

        Market for a 1 year proven start in the 8-10 mil range- Kluber got $10, Cueto got $6 with a club buyout 2.5 for 2024 so 8.5 mil. Couple good relievers cost you another 8-10.

        Andrew Chafin good lefty releiver got 6.5 mil from Dbacks. IF they grabbed another good reliever at 3-4 and Reds would have had much better pitching depth, I love the young guys but always need a proven starter and some proven vets in the bullpen.

        Injuries and underperformance will happen with some guys. We just dont know who they are yet.

  13. DaveCT

    Given the presence of Votto, Myers, and Stephenson at 1B, CES knew his chance to make the team was slim, guaranteed.

    That actually can have freed him to just go out and play and make a good impression in his first camp with the team.

    Now he goes down to AAA and stays ready. If one of the vets gets hurt or moved, or after the early summer call-ups begin, he’ll get his turn. So, CES, just go rake and work hard on defense. I think he’s a smart kid who knows what’s what.

    As above, few surprises. like CES, Steer, McClain, higher floors and looking good. McClain, down for now; Steer, in.

    EDLC, Marte, perhaps Siani, higher ceilings, showing their talents, with some understandable real time struggles. Could be a short wait, or a longer one. Hell, we’ve been waiting for Senzel (who I hope lives up to his promise here or elsewhere) forever.

    Allen and Cerda getting noticed, as well.

  14. Melvin

    Yeah. Reds management, top to bottom, STINKS at it. They haven’t got a clue as to how to really win. Pathetic. Reds fans are soooo tired of it.

  15. Michael

    Don’t like the message it sends to the young players that no matter what you do in ST, you aren’t making the team. CES could have had plenty of AB’s at DH, 3rd, and 1st. Steer can move to 2B to rest India. Instead, Pinder and Newman will get plenty of at bats at DH.

    • Roger Garrett

      I agree Michael especially when CES is a thumper and that is what the DH is all about.

      • Harry Stoner

        It’s pretty clear that Bell / Krall opted for Pinder over CES.

        For whatever sense that makes.

        “Today wasn’t the day.”

      • Melvin

        Obviously it’s because they want to win more than anything else…..as I’m throwing up in the toilet.

  16. Optimist

    This is not surprising, nor is it cause for much concern. Even the silence or routine nature of this transaction is not much cause for concern. What will be cause for concern are the following:

    1 – the late ST waiver wire/FA pickups – I fear we’ll see one each or a starter and reliever, and if they stick around until July with lousy performance – not good.

    2 – No evidence of a planned series of promotions of the AAA/AA talent – either on demand for injuries or accompanying releases/trades of the veterans. If the MiLB talent underperforms, fine – leave them there. But if any one or more of them is on fire through May 15th, they need to be on the 26-man in June. Perhaps wait until late June to move AA stars up – but they need to be in line for a Sept. appearances. The Siani and Steer patterns need to be the precedent for that.

    3 – If any starter in AA or AAA is performing well, they need to be the first in line for a spot start/long relief role. Unless another Diaz appears in MiLB, get one of the starters who has made 10-12 starts and let them finish with 40-50 ip on the Reds pen (looking at Abbott/Philips/Boyle/Petty in that order)

    4 – Unless Newman becomes a Justin Turner late bloomer, he and Myers get moved in July, opening spots for MiLB talent.

    Be very aggressive in promoting and demoting the prospects as they shine or falter – but don’t play them out of position/in a new position in MLB. CES needs 30-45 games at 1b in Louisville – then it’s on the Reds as DH/1b split as long as Joey’s health holds.

    Make them succeed in AAA until June, and, if necessary, falter later this season in MLB.

  17. William

    Bell thinks CES is not ready… I wonder what his unspoken thoughts are about that pitching staff. How many games does he think he will win with those middle relievers? Who is he going to count on for the seventh and eighth inning when they play a good team? I only count three starters that I have confidence in. I guess it is Greene, Lodolo, or Ashcraft, or pray for rain.

  18. Harry Stoner

    At least someone asked…and Bell replie in pure Bell gobblygook:

    Why send him out?

    “It’s a good question. We have a lot of experience and expertise to know what to look at, there’s factors that nobody can know,” Bell said. “I’m around these players every day. I have conversations with them. Christian impressed in every way he possibly can. He’s very, very close. Today wasn’t the day.”

    Bell likely had zero ‘conversations’ with CES. Has he suddenly learned Spanish?

    He apparently didn’t know Votto was ready to return.

    “Today wasn’t the day.” is up there with “Where you gonna go?”

    Strickland’s third tater in three outings: “Today wasn’t the day.”

    Pinder 0-3, .111 for ST: “Today wasn’t the day.”

    • Optimist

      Serious questions – do either Bell or CES speak Spanish? I don’t know, suspect Bell does well enough – know nothing about CES other than he’s listed as from SF suburbs.

      • Jim Walker

        Point is well taken. Per BBRef’s info, CES appears to be a US citizen by birth. My experiences in California have left me with the impression that folks whose names suggest Hispanic or Asian (or often even eastern European) heritage typically tend to be functionally multilingual even if they attended public schools and speak English as their primary language.

        The former wife of a nephew of my wife is Peruvian by heritage. She speaks flawless clear English but raised her children to be English/ Spanish bilingual from day 1. I suspect this is also typical.

    • greenmtred

      Is your conduit to the inner thoughts of David Bell a seance of some sort, Harry? “Today isn’t the day” is as clear as can be. I will posit that had the Reds kept CES with the big team and he had under-performed, that the castigation of Bell for playing a young guy who needed more time at AAA would be nearly unanimous.

      • Harry Stoner

        Nah….that is pure speculation and too easy of a counterargument…without much credibility.

        I certainly wouldn’t have opined that given the spring he’s had. If others did that isn’t on me.

        In my view he’s earned his shot. If he performs well, great, if not then cross that bridge when you come to it.

        Do I have an insight into Bell’s thoughts…? Of course, not. But I do read what he says and what what is reported. And I think about it. Some things aren’t so hard to piece together if you think about it Green Mountain.

        But it would require you to think about it.

      • Michael

        Well they didn’t put CES in the lineup vs May and Burnes for us or the know it alls in the Reds org to know if he is actually ready or not. That’s why CES and McClain getting cut makes no sense at this point in ST.

      • greenmtred

        Thinking about it is only as valuable as the information that fuels the process, Harry. I suggest that t he most important job for the Reds this year is developing the young players. CES had gaudy stats against pitching that is mostly not as good as what he’ll see in MLB and it’s likely that the determination was made–probably not by Bell alone–that he would profit from working on hitting, defense, whatever in the minors for a bit longer.

    • JayTheRed

      David Bell is just as bad at talking as Krall is. I swear this team is so frustrating. I want them to start letting these guys play in the big leagues. I promise you; some are better already never having played above AA than some of the retreads they keep putting into major league games.

      • Michael

        Absolutely right Jay. I believe we will see CES and McClain outperform many vets on the team this season.

  19. TCT

    David Bell is no Sparky Anderson or Earl Weaver. But it kinda confuses me when I keep seeing criticisms of him not playing young guys who are ready in favor of rusty old vets. Did Price do that? Yeah. Dusty? Absolutely. But Bell? Lets see.

    In 2021 he gave the starting second base job to a guy who only had a couple hundred at bats above A ball. India struggled out of the gate but Bell stuck with him. Once India got going he became the leadoff hitter and led the team in plate appearances. And won ROY.

    Also in 2021 Bell had a veteran catcher with all the intangibles that managers love. His backup that year was to be a 24 year old who got a small cup of coffee in the COVID year. And while Barnhart started more games at catcher, guess who got more at bats? The young guy. Bell used Stephenson at first base. And when Stephenson was in the lineup he was almost always in the 2-4 spot while Barnhart batted at the bottom of the line-up.

    Don’t forget the two rookie pitchers that Bell gave the chance to earn a spot in the rotation. Vlad won that battle and pitched over 100 innings while Santillian was made a mid to high leverage reliever.

    The only young guy who got called up that year who didn’t really get a chance to play everyday was Barrerro. Kyle Farmer is no all star shortstop. He really should be a utility guy. But he greatly exceeded expectations that year and was coming off a really hot month and the Reds were in a pennant race. I don’t know how benching him for a rookie at that point would have gone over in the clubhouse. Still Bell tried to get him some playing time in center.

    As for last year, who were the young studs ready to go that Bell wouldn’t let play? Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft, Diaz all got their time. There is a lot you could criticize Bell for, but this one seems silly. Its like a leftover criticism from the Dusty and Price era.

    • AC

      This team has basically no outfielders and no bullpen, but David Bell is the problem. Years of mismanagement and lack of developmental focus are what has hamstrung this franchise. Unfortunately there is no easy answer, so “Fire Bell” and “Sell the team Bob” are what’s shouted from the message boards.

  20. Votto4life

    CES and EDLC both have things to work on at the plate. Let them work on them against minor league pitching instead of wailing away at Major League sliders.

    Just because a prospect is better than someone on the ML roster does not mean he should in the major leagues. These guys were in AA last year.

    Let them start the season in Louisville and work their way to the majors. If CES and EDLC get off to a good start, they will be up soon enough.

    Patience is the best approach. The last thing I want is for EDLC or CES to make the team coming out of Spring Training and then end up looking like Jose Barrero at the plate.

  21. Hotto4Votto

    Reds giving CES the Kris Bryant treatment.

    Mostly kidding, just a bad look to have your best hitter invited to ST never have a real shot to make a non-competitive team.

    • old-school

      Im by no means a Bell supporter but he did give some quotes on each player and what they needed to work on that made a lot of sense. For CES, he said hes close but he knows what he needs to work on a lot of little things. Im assuming its learning the defensivefundamentals at first base as hes been mostly a third baseman. Bell said EDLC needs to work on some things defensively. His highest praise was for McLain. Said hes really commanding the strike zone and pitchers cant beat him with the FB. Sounds like McClain really made an impression on the staff.Also on McLain, paraphrasing, but some quotes about his professional approach and intangibles suggest he’s very close to being a major leaguer.

      AAA should be interesting to follow.

  22. Michael

    I hope that whoever has the shortstop job first takes it and runs with it. If it means Barrero is the SS for the next several years, so be it. Then everyone else has to move. I have the feeling it will be Jose’s job for about 6 weeks and then McClain’s turn. Steer better play well to hold off Elly at 3B.