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Predicting Reds' 2020 Opening Day roster

@m_sheldon
November 5, 2019

CINCINNATI -- Why wait until next year to predict the Reds' roster? The opening of the 2020 season for Cincinnati isn’t until March 26, when the Reds host the Cardinals at Great American Ball Park. Manager David Bell, president of baseball operations Dick Williams and general manager Nick Krall have

CINCINNATI -- Why wait until next year to predict the Reds' roster?

The opening of the 2020 season for Cincinnati isn’t until March 26, when the Reds host the Cardinals at Great American Ball Park. Manager David Bell, president of baseball operations Dick Williams and general manager Nick Krall have yet to get into thick of the Hot Stove portion of the offseason.

While several decisions on players -- both inside and outside the organization -- have yet to be made, MLB.com is trying to project the Opening Day rosters for all 30 clubs.

Here is what the Reds' roster might look like:

Catcher
Locks: Tucker Barnhart, Curt Casali
Possibilities: Tyler Stephenson, free agent/trade
With Cincinnati seeking more run producers, it could turn to a free agent like Yasmani Grandal. Inside the organization, Stephenson -- ranked as the Reds’ No. 7 prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- is getting closer to being ready. It’s probably a stretch that Stephenson would jump from Double-A to the Majors for Opening Day, but don’t rule it out if there’s an injury to the primary duo.

First base
Locks: Joey Votto
Possibilities: None
Votto has four guaranteed years and $107 million left on his contract, which has full no-trade protection. After two down seasons, he will be looking for a big turnaround.

Second base
Locks: None
Possibilities: Freddy Galvis, José Peraza, Josh VanMeter, Nick Senzel, free agent/trade
Easily the most unsettled spot on the roster, the Reds have a lot of mulling to do over how they will fill this position in 2020. It also depends on how they tackle a couple other spots on the field. Since his $5.5 million club option was picked up, Galvis is a leading candidate, but he could also move over to shortstop should the dominoes fall that way. Peraza could be a non-tender candidate, and although the lefty-hitting VanMeter opened some eyes, he’s shown so far that he struggles vs. southpaw pitching. Senzel, who had right shoulder surgery in September, is a slight possibility to move from center field should the club feel he’s its best option. Mike Moustakas and Starlin Castro could be the most appealing free-agent options, especially with their power and veteran experience.

Shortstop
Locks: None
Possibilities: Freddy Galvis, José Peraza, José Iglesias
If the Reds are unable to retain Iglesias after his superb lone season with them, or sign anyone else, the job most likely would go to Galvis. Iglesias has expressed interest in returning, and he remained on the market until Cincinnati got him during Spring Training on a Minor League deal. He probably won’t have the same problem this time around. An outside option could be free agent Didi Gregorius, who has become a star for the Yankees and was once a talented young Reds prospect.

Third base
Locks: Eugenio Suárez
Possibilities: None
Suárez has five seasons remaining on his seven-year, $66 million contract, and he will be coming off a blockbuster 2019, during which he hit 49 home runs. He’s become one of the heart-and-soul leaders of the team, on and off the field.

Utility
Locks: Kyle Farmer
Possibilities: Alex Blandino, José Peraza, Josh VanMeter, Derek Dietrich
Farmer became a valuable bench player with his nine homers in limited play and his versatility. He served as the third catcher, and he played every infield spot at least once. Farmer even pitched in one game. Peraza and VanMeter can both play the outfield. Dietrich had a breakout first half with 18 homers, but he hit just one in the second half. That makes the arbitration-eligible veteran a non-tender candidate, but he can play first base, second base and left field.

Outfield
Locks: Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, Aristides Aquino, Phillip Ervin
Possibilities: Brian O'Grady, Michael Lorenzen, free agent/trade
Two outfielders (Winker and Senzel) are coming off injuries, and the other (Aquino) is still establishing himself after a huge splash. Aquino was a rookie who set home run records in August, but faded in September. Ervin demonstrated he can handle himself in the big leagues, but most of the righty hitter’s offensive success came against lefty pitchers. O’Grady hit 28 homers last season at Triple-A, and he can play all three spots.

This is an area where the Reds could make a bigger investment and perhaps look at signing Marcell Ozuna as a home run producer. Another free-agent option will be Corey Dickerson, who has a history of mashing baseballs at GABP.

Starting pitchers
Locks: Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani
Possibilities: Tyler Mahle, Kevin Gausman, Lucas Sims, Sal Romano, Tony Santillan
With the first four starters set, the Reds should enter next season with one of baseball’s best rotations, and one that includes three All-Stars. The fifth spot is seemingly up for grabs. Mahle was 3-12 with a 5.14 ERA over 25 starts in 2019, but his stuff and makeup still impressed Bell. Gausman, an August waiver claim who was used in the bullpen, has a power arm and starting experience. One X-factor to watch is Santillan, Cincinnati’s No. 4 prospect.

Relievers
Locks: Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, Robert Stephenson
Possibilities: Joel Kuhnel, Matt Bowman, Kevin Gausman, Lucas Sims, Sal Romano, Ruben Alaniz, free agent/trade,
Bell had hoped not to define Iglesias exclusively as a closer, but rather as someone who can take on the most important high-leverage moments in any inning. That did not pan out, as Iglesias largely struggled in non-save situations while going 3-12 with a 4.16 ERA and 34 saves. Lorenzen and Garrett established themselves as solid righty and lefty setup men, respectively. After multiple struggles over the years, Stephenson appeared to turn the corner and became a more dependable reliever in the mid-to late innings. Still, this is an area where the front office will have to make some investment next season after the overall bullpen took a step backward from 2018.

Two-way players
Locks: Michael Lorenzen
Possibilities: None
Bell gradually provided Lorenzen with opportunities to see time in center field and left field in the late innings, but that accelerated in the final month as the reliever was given several starts in center field. That’s something that is expected to continue next season. Not only can Lorenzen handle the bat, pinch-hit or pinch-run, but he is also the best defensive outfielder the Reds have on their roster.

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.