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Who might make the Reds' Opening Day roster?

@m_sheldon
January 15, 2020

CINCINNATI -- Back in November, MLB.com reporters were tasked with trying to predict the 2020 Opening Day rosters for the teams they covered. Fortunately, these are not the types of prognostications that are set in stone. The Reds sure have been busy since then, working on upgrading their offense and

CINCINNATI -- Back in November, MLB.com reporters were tasked with trying to predict the 2020 Opening Day rosters for the teams they covered. Fortunately, these are not the types of prognostications that are set in stone.

The Reds sure have been busy since then, working on upgrading their offense and rotation, and they don’t appear to be finished.

With another reminder that things can still change between now and when the Reds open the season on March 26 vs. the Cardinals at Great American Ball Park, here is another look at what the 26-man roster could look like.

Catcher
Locks:
Tucker Barnhart, Curt Casali
Possibilities: Tyler Stephenson

Cincinnati took a serious run at Yasmani Grandal before he went to the White Sox on a four-year, $73 million contract, removing the only game-changing offensive catcher from the market. Barring a trade, the tandem of Barnhart and Casali will likely remain.

Stephenson -- the Reds’ No. 7 prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- is getting closer to being ready. It’s probably a stretch that he 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
Lock: 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
Lock:
Mike Moustakas
Possibilities: None

The Reds addressed their most unsettled spot going into the offseason on Dec. 5 by signing free agent Mike Moustakas for four years and $64 million -- the largest free-agent contract in franchise history. Moustakas averaged 34 homers with an .817 OPS over the past three seasons and brings his reputation as a clubhouse leader.

Shortstop
Lock:
Freddy Galvis
Possibilities: Free agent/trade

Didi Gregorius was a candidate, but he signed with the Phillies, and José Iglesias signed with Baltimore after one season in Cincinnati. That leaves Galvis, whose $5.5 million option was picked up in November after he hit a career-high 23 homers in ’19, as the likely shortstop. This can change, however. The Reds have been one of the leading clubs rumored to have interest in Cleveland superstar Francisco Lindor.

Third base
Lock:
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 in which he hit 49 home runs. He’s become one of the heart-and-soul leaders of the team, both on and off the field.

Utility
Lock:
Kyle Farmer
Possibilities: Alex Blandino, Josh VanMeter, Matt Davidson

Farmer became a valuable bench player thanks to his nine homers in limited play, as well as his versatility. (He served as the third catcher, played every infield spot at least once, and even pitched in one game.) VanMeter can play the outfield and infield, and Blandino has appeared at each infield position.

Outfield
Locks:
Nick Senzel, Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winker, Aristides Aquino, Phillip Ervin
Possibilities: Travis Jankowski, Michael Lorenzen, Scott Schebler, Mark Payton, free agent/trade

Two outfielders (Winker and Senzel) are coming off injuries, and a third (Aquino) is still establishing himself after a huge splash. With Akiyama coming from Japan on a three-year deal, the Reds hope for some improvement near the top of the order. A lefty hitter who turns 32 in April, Akiyama batted .303/.392/.471 with 20 home runs for the Seibu Lions last season. If the Reds are not done adding here, they could also look at free agents Marcell Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos, both of whom remain on the market. Schebler, a former 30-homer hitter who lost his job to Senzel in May, is recovering from shoulder surgery and will be seeking a bounce-back season.

Starting pitchers
Locks:
Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani, Wade Miley
Possibilities: Tyler Mahle, Tony Santillan, Nick Lodolo, Lucas Sims

The addition of Miley on Dec. 18 on a two-year, $15 million contract made an already formidable rotation likely one of the best in baseball. The only question is who will be first in line should a replacement be needed. Mahle impressed manager David Bell despite his 3-12 record and a 5.14 ERA over 25 starts in 2019. A sleeper could be the left-handed Lodolo, the seventh overall pick last year, who isn’t expected to need much time in the Minor Leagues.

Relievers
Locks:
Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, Robert Stephenson
Possibilities: Joel Kuhnel, Matt Bowman, Lucas Sims, Sal Romano, Tyler Thornburg, Justin Shafer, José De Leon, Nate Jones, 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 middle 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
Lock:
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 and pinch-run, he is the best defensive outfielder the Reds have.

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.