The Cincinnati Reds have finalized their Opening Day roster this afternoon. For the past few days they’ve only had 25 healthy players on their spring training roster and they needed to add someone else to fill things out. With other teams making cuts across baseball with the end of spring training, it made sense for the Reds to see what was available. Apparently they did not see an upgrade on the waiver wire to someone they had internally and today they made it official by recalling outfielder Bubba Thompson and placing him on the 26-man roster.  They team also made official roster moves by placing TJ Friedl, Matt McLain, Ian Gibaut, Nick Lodolo, Sam Moll, Brandon Williamson, and Alex Young on the injured list.

It’s been a wild ride for Bubba Thompson over the last eight months. In August he was designated for assignment by the eventual World Series champion Texas Rangers and picked up by Kansas City. After the season ended he was designated for assignment by the Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees, and Minnesota Twins before the Reds picked him back up on waivers right before spring training began.

His two seasons in the big leagues – 2022 and 2023 – both came with the Texas Rangers. He hit .256/.302/.312 in 2022 in 55 games. Last season he hit .170/.237/.283 in 37 games. He’s hit better in Triple-A, posting an .829 OPS with Round Rock in 2022 and a .733 OPS with Round Rock and Omaha in 2023. Back in 2022 he stole 67 bases between his time in AAA and MLB (135 games). Last year he stole 20 bases in 69 games between the two levels. You can see his career stats here.

During spring training he played well. Thompson got into 15 games with the big league club. He hit .269/.367/.462 with two doubles, a home run, two steals, four walks, and seven strikeouts in his 31 plate appearances. The club still decided to option him to the minor leagues last week, but plans changed and now he’s made the roster and will be with the Reds tomorrow for Opening Day.

With Thompson now on the roster, here’s what the 26-man Opening Day roster will look like for the Cincinnati Reds:

Starting Rotation

  • Frankie Montas
  • Hunter Greene
  • Nick Martinez
  • Graham Ashcraft
  • Andrew Abbott

Bullpen

  • Tejay Antone
  • Fernando Cruz
  • Alexis Diaz
  • Buck Farmer
  • Emilio Pagan
  • Lucas Sims
  • Brent Suter
  • Justin Wilson

Catchers

  • Tyler Stephenson
  • Luke Maile

Infielders

  • Jeimer Candelario
  • Elly De La Cruz
  • Christian Encarnacion-Strand
  • Santiago Espinal
  • Jonathan India

Outfielders

  • Will Benson
  • Stuart Fairchild
  • Jake Fraley
  • Nick Martini
  • Spencer Steer
  • Bubba Thompson

38 Responses

  1. Kevin Patrick

    This year’s surprise 26th man…Bubba Thompson! C’mon down!…You are the next pinch runner late in the game. Seriously, I have faith that this guy can cover some ground in the larger outfields. Get enough seeing eye singles and go from first to third Mr. Thompson. Become the next fan favorite. I guess starting center fielders don’t just appear on the waiver wire at the end of Spring Training.

  2. Jimbo44CN

    Guess I am ok with this, as he looked decent in ST, but personally would have rather seen Hurtabise.

    • HoF-13

      I’m ok with it since he is an actual centerfielder and I want Hurtabise to get real playing time – that wouldn’t happen with the Reds.

    • Optimist

      Close, but been saying for a while, it’s Hurtubise up in June, and Dunn/Hinds in July or after the break, or certainly with the 2 callups in September. It all depends on performance at AAA, and injuries in the interim, but get all three at least 200 PAs in AAA, and get Dunn/Hinds 400 – that should give a hint of what to expect. If all 3 flop, there’s the needed trade deadline rental acquisition.

      • Oldtimer

        Among the 2 callups in September, I think (not sure) one has to be P.

  3. David

    Just reviewing the Riverbats roster, Blake Dunn is on the AAA Riverbats.

    So just a roster move (not on the 40 man yet) and a phone call, and he could be here. I would like to see him get ~100-200 AB’s in AAA to see what happens, first, though.

    Tony Santillan is also not on the 40 man. They will have to make a move with him this year, because if he pitches well, he will not want to sign another AAA contract.

    Nick Martini is the oldest player on the roster as a position player, at 33.
    Justin Wilson is the oldest player on the roster at 36 (relief pitcher).

    I think Stuart Fairchild will be fine in CF.

  4. Frankie Tomatoes

    David they haven’t been the Riverbats in 22 years.

  5. Mauired

    I wonder how many of the Barrero bashers would have been so happy to see him go just for Bubba Thompson to take his spot.

    • greenmtred

      I wasn’t really happy to see Barrero go–it sucks for him–but I can see the rationale for it. If Thompson doesn’t hit, that won’t be great, either, but he does give the Reds two of the three fastest runners in baseball, and he’s a true center fielder. I also think he’s a placeholder unless he plays well enough to force a different conclusion.

      • Doug Gray

        He was not released. He was DFA’d and cleared waivers, and will now be in Triple-A.

  6. MK

    I kinda thought one of the two catchers with big league experience that were non roster invitees would have been added. The need for a righthanded pinch hitter is great but Maile or Stephenson in that role would have been stronger than Bubba and would have been safer with a third catcher.

    • Jim Walker

      Nobody says the DFA kid Bubba can’t be back on the road at the push of a button if a waiver claim or late release falls the Reds way. Bubba is perfect to have hanging out as the last man b/c if they have an open 40 man spot for a replacement (and they do in McLain who has not yet been sent to the 60 day list). They can just option Thompson without risking waivers.

      • Redsvol

        I’m good with bubba being the choice. I think center field defense is going to be very important till Friedl gets back.

        But boy, wouldn’t that 26 man roster sure look better with with the name Noelvi marte on it? Such a shame. I hope he comes back strong when it does happen.

  7. Optimist

    I’m wondering if they still have a pitcher pickup coming. Pretty good MLB experienced depth in AAA, and so far it seems on the IL arms are due back sooner rather than later, but you can never have too much pitching.

  8. Hotto4Votto

    I like Hurtubise better for 26th man. I believe there’s a chance he can hit. Don’t believe in Thompson’s bat at all. But I’m sure it hardly matters as he’s likely only off the bench for PH late innings defense replacement anyway.

    • AllTheHype

      I think if Hurtubise starts strong in AAA in the 1st month, that may be who you’ll see if Thompson struggles.

      • Hotto4Votto

        If his play is anything like last season he should earn an opportunity to show what he can do at some point this season.

    • Jim Walker

      Hurtubise is an LH bat which probably was a major disqualifying factor in this situation.

      • Hotto4Votto

        That’s a fair point. At the same time the guy on the roster he’s replacing was LH as well. But he won’t be in Friedl’s role, and Martini is on the roster as a LH bench bat, so I do understand it may disqualify him for the sake of bench bat balance. I just don’t believe Thompson’s handedness with the bat makes him a better option at the plate regardless.

  9. Tampa Red

    Barrero outrighted by the Rangers today really puts into perspective the endless hand wringing and gnashing of the teeth over his release by the Reds from members of the wonderful on-line community we call Redleg Nation.

    I’m still pulling for the kid, hope he ends up being a huge success someday. But the brutal truth is, not every big time prospect, toolsy ball player is actually a big leaguer. There are only about 800 at any given time on a big league roster. And when a prospect falls short of the potential placed on them by others, it’s almost never the organization’s fault.

    • AllTheHype

      Reds could have had him again, over Thompson, but they chose not. The other 29 teams made the same decision as the Reds.

      Waivers twice, claimed one time among all the teams. Should tell RLN something. But I suspect not, for some.

      • Mauired

        I’m almost ready to agree that he’s not going to make it in the majors based on his spring. But then again, spring training doesn’t really matter at all. Still curious how he does this year.

      • LDS

        Not a particularly valid argument when the Reds add a 26th player that was DFA’d by multiple teams this off season. Thompson doesn’t move the needle, but at least he’s fast. Krall didn’t work real hard on this.

      • Optimist

        Actually, LDS, this may be a very valid argument. It will prove a very close comparison to organization judgment considering Bubba vs. Barrero this season. About as pure a test of swapping organizations as you can get, at the highest developmental level.

        Which GM/PBO knows and evaluates their own and others prospects best – Reds vs. Rangers.

        (I expect it will be a wash – minimal effect, but it will be fun to find out.)

      • LDS

        @Optimist, I think you’re probably right about player development. A couple of the Texas players are from their draft, e.g., Jung, but most were acquired via trade or free agency. The big difference is that Texas can and was willing to spend more money. And their coaching staff is better, e.g., Bochy over Bell any day of the week, even though his managerial record is less than desirable as well.

    • Tampa Red

      @LDS I applaud your relentless commitment to building and perfecting your brand. Should be a fun year!

      • LDS

        My response was to @Hype. I wonder who next crash and burn candidates are among all of the Reds highly touted youth? It’s the Reds way.

      • Oldtimer

        Cliff Cook. The ultimate Best Thing Since Sliced Bread to crash and burn in early 1960s. Perhaps the classic AAAA player.

  10. MBS

    I’m very excited for both Hurtubise, and Dunn, but I’m glad they aren’t panicking by rushing them up. Let both get reps in AAA, and see how it goes there first.

    Thompson is perfectly fine as a platoon partner for Benson in CF, and an excellent late inning DR/PR. In an ideal world he is on a deep enough team to only be a DR/PR/PH guy, but we got 2 major injuries, and an 80 game suspension to deal with.

  11. Eddiek957

    I like Thompson for the 26th spot. I don’t think it’s a good thing to sit young players

  12. Indy Red Man

    Yahoo has Cubs, Reds, StL, Milw, and Pitt in that order. Idk? I’d be happy with 2nd with our current situation. Half our team is either hurt or has no track record of being available to play professional baseball for 6 months. Martinez can’t be expected to go more then 120 innings and who knows if Lodolo can hack it? Philips, Williamson, and Lowder might make an positive impact at some point

    • LDS

      Odds makers still have the Reds in 3rd, though Reds fans are putting real money on the Reds.

    • Still a Red

      If the Reds can keep the heads above water until those injured (who can return) return things might be OK within the division, unless someone else runs away with it. Better in this division than one of the others.

  13. MK

    Unfortunate they used one of Bubba’s options. It sure lends itself in the future to the idea of keeping all the 40-man roster guys until they are ready to set the final active roster, so options are not wasted.

    • Doug Gray

      Since he wasn’t in the minors for 20 days this doesn’t count/use an option.

  14. Mike W

    I don’t think anyone — except Las Vegas oddsmakers — is adjusting the Red’s chances of making the playoffs given the 7 injured players listed at the beginning of this article. Some players may have the best year of their career in 2024 — and I certainly hope that happens! — but no matter how you slice, we are not the contender we were 30 days ago. But we can still win it all and that’s why they play the game. Let’s win 2 of 3 starting tomorrow. Go Reds!