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Reds face tough decisions as they trim roster

Club needs to make 19 cuts and can go a number of different ways
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The rules say teams must have a 25-man roster set ahead of Opening Day. Of course, changes can, and will, be made to the roster during the remaining 161 games but that doesn't lessen the time, attention and intrigue that ensues regarding who will occupy those precious final spots when Spring Training ends.

For the final week of camp, the Reds still have to make 19 cuts to get to 25 players and figure out the final spots on the bench and in the bullpen.

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The rules say teams must have a 25-man roster set ahead of Opening Day. Of course, changes can, and will, be made to the roster during the remaining 161 games but that doesn't lessen the time, attention and intrigue that ensues regarding who will occupy those precious final spots when Spring Training ends.

For the final week of camp, the Reds still have to make 19 cuts to get to 25 players and figure out the final spots on the bench and in the bullpen.

View Full Game Coverage

"I think it's something that's really going to be one of those down-to-the-wire events," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Saturday morning. "I just don't think there's any other way to go about it. We'll see. I'm looking forward to the competition. It's really interesting to see the last week or 10 days of Spring Training, when guys are still in the hunt for spots on the club and how they handle it."

Reds Spring Training info | Tickets | Schedule

The Reds won't need a fifth starter until April 8 or 9 -- due to the early scheduled off-days -- so that means the club could carry five bench players and eight relievers for the first several days of the regular season.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Two of the bench spots are already filled with catcher Devin Mesoraco and whomever the fourth outfielder is on a given day among Scott Schebler, Billy Hamilton, Adam Duvall and Jesse Winker.

Here's a look at the contenders for the other three bench spots:

Cliff Pennington: Pennington was signed to a Minor League deal, ostensibly to be a backup shortstop to Jose Peraza, and he can also play second base and third base. The 33-year-old is known for his defense.

Alex Blandino: The No. 19 prospect in the organization, according to MLB Pipeline, Blandino was developed within the system and worked his way up. The 25-year-old, who plays three infield spots, has hit well this spring to help his chances, and he's on the 40-man roster already.

Phil Gosselin: A non-roster invite, Gosselin's chances improved when a similar player in Patrick Kivlehan was cut on Friday. An experienced pinch-hitter, Gosselin has hit well in camp and also can play every infield position and left field.

Brandon Dixon: It's been a very nice spring for Dixon, who has three home runs and would be someone who could provide good pop off the bench. He's gotten a long look and can play first base, second base, third base and the corner outfield, but isn't a strong defensive player.

Video: CIN@CLE: Dixon clobbers a two-run homer to left

Phillip Ervin: If the Reds decide to carry a fifth outfielder, Ervin would be a contender. He can play all three spots and the former first-round Draft pick made the most of his first call-ups last season. The one issue is whether his development would be stunted by playing sparingly in the big leagues. Everyday at-bats at Triple-A Louisville wouldn't hurt.

Ben Revere: Signed during camp and invited as a non-roster player, Revere offers a left-handed bat, speed and has most of his big league experience in center field. That would provide insurance for both Billy Hamilton, who has struggled to hit in camp, and Schebler, who is considered to be better in right field.

Sebastian Elizalde: A left-handed hitter, Elizalde plays the corner outfield spots and first base. Like Dixon, he's a younger player who would provide bench power. Elizalde has impressed Price throughout the spring.

Rosell Herrera: Although he hasn't hit well this spring, save for two homers in the first two games of spring, Herrera can play second base, third base and all three outfield positions. Like Dixon and Elizalde, he has never played in the big leagues and is a non-roster player.

Video: CIN@LAA: Herrera snags Ohtani's sinking liner in left

Mason Williams: The former Yankees prospect has reached base in half of his games played and also has drawn Price's praise on numerous occasions. Williams can also play all three spots in the outfield.

"Does the player hit left- or right-handed?" Price said, discussing the different considerations. "Can they run? Are they multi-positional? Does their swing allow them to hit off of the bench? It's having to have a short, repeatable swing that's not a high-maintenance swing that needs constant at-bats to keep it in place."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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