CINCINNATI -- Ahead of a deadline to protect players from being plucked in next month's Rule 5 Draft, the Reds added four to their 40-man roster on Wednesday.
The contracts of catcher Tucker Barnhart, outfielders Juan Duran and Ryan LaMarre and right-handed starter Chad Rogers were selected. The transactions put Cincinnati's 40-man roster at its limit.
These moves signal that the club is high on these prospects, but also that it will be unlikely the Reds will seek to add a player in the Rule 5 process.
Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or clubs risk exposing them to other organizations to being taken in the Rule 5 Draft. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons.
Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, slated for Dec. 12 in Orlando, Fla., at the conclusion of the annual Winter Meetings. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
In 98 games this season for Double-A Pensacola, the switch-hitting Barnhart batted .260 with three home runs, 44 RBIs and .348 on-base percentage. Behind the plate, the 22-year-old caught 37 percent of runners attempting to steal. He was a 10th-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of high school in Brownsburg, Ind.
Signed as a 16-year-old in 2008 out of the Dominican Republic for $2 million, Duran is 22 and stands 6-foot-7. This season for Class A Bakersfield, the right-handed slugger batted .251 with 20 homers and 66 RBIs in 111 games.
A speedy outfielder, LaMarre was ranked 13th in the organization by MLB.com, but did not have a robust year at the plate. The 24-year-old batted .246 with 10 homers, 39 RBIs, 22 steals and a .326 on-base percentage. He finished the season with three games at Triple-A Louisville, where he was 2-for-11. LaMarre was the Reds' second-round pick in the 2010 Draft out of the University of Michigan.
Rogers made 25 starts this season combined for Pensacola and Louisville and posted an 8-7 record and 3.21 ERA. The 24-year-old gave up 113 hits and 45 walks with 103 strikeouts over 140 innings. Rogers was a 28th-round pick of the organization in the 2010 Draft.
Barnhart, LaMarre and Rogers participated in the Arizona Fall League, which completed play last week.
Now that the Reds' roster is at 40 players, another transaction could be forthcoming. The club must make room for when the signing of free agent utility player Skip Schumaker becomes official.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.