Last Monday we took a look at who was the most likely non-roster pitcher that could make the Cincinnati Reds roster with a good spring training. There wasn’t an easy answer, as the rotation is locked in and the bullpen has so much competition. Today we’re going to take a look at the position player pool, and it’s a lot more of the same.

This season the Major League Baseball roster limit has been upped to 26. There’s also a limit on how many pitchers a team can have – 13. I’m working on the assumption that the Reds will go with 13 pitches on the staff and 13 position players. It feels safe to assume that the following players, assuming health, are on the roster to begin the year:

That’s ten players. That leaves three spots open – possibly four depending on if Eugenio Suarez is ready to begin the year or not. But we’re going to work on the assumption that he is for the purposes of this article. Now, looking at that list above you’re going to notice several players missing who played a good role on the 2019 team. Aristides Aquino isn’t on the list. Phillip Ervin isn’t on the list. Josh VanMeter isn’t on the list. Kyle Farmer isn’t on the list.

Phillip Ervin is out of options. As are fellow outfielders Travis Jankowski and Scott Schebler. Outfielder Mark Payton, the Reds Rule 5 draft pick, technically has options but he can’t be sent to the minor leagues or he is placed on waivers where another team can claim him, and if he does clear waivers, his previous team is able to buy his contract back for half of what the Reds paid for it.

Before we even get to the non-roster players, Cincinnati is at a 26-man roster crunch. The Reds invited nine players to spring training as non-roster positional players. With four catchers already on the 40-man roster in Barnhart, Casali, Farmer, and Tyler Stephenson, it seems that there’s almost no way Chris Okey or Francisco Pena break onto the roster out of the spring. The outfield is even more packed, so that likely leaves Boog Powell and top 10 prospect Stuart Fairchild without much of a chance of claiming a spot.

The infield, however, could have a spot available. Maybe. While several players on the 40-man roster have experience at shortstop – including some guys with experience there in the big leagues in Kyle Farmer and Alex Blandino – but only Freddy Galvis has the reputation as a guy who can handle shortstop every single day among players on the 40-man. Perhaps this is where the best opportunity lies for a non-roster player to grab a spot.

Or maybe not. The only true shortstops that were invited to spring training on a non-roster invite was Alfredo Rodriguez and Jose Garcia. One of those guys is a top prospect, and the other one isn’t exactly a prospect. Garcia, the Reds #4 overall prospect has not played above Advanced-A ball. He’s not going to make the roster. The team wants to develop him for the future and stashing him on the bench simply isn’t going to do that.

Alfredo Rodriguez spent last season mostly in Double-A where he hit for a solid average, but had no power at all – hitting just one home run and slugging .347 despite hitting .286. He spent the final month in Triple-A where he hit just .168 with a .482 OPS. The glove is there for shortstop, but the bat leaves a lot to be desired, too. It would make more sense to keep him in the minors and only call him up if you needed an every day shortstop if something were to happen to Freddy Galvis. Otherwise, if and when Galvis needs a day or two off, slide someone else to the spot – whether that’s Blandino, Farmer, Suarez perhaps for a day, maybe VanMeter who has played there some in the minors – there are options for a 1-day kind of fill in.

Perhaps you can make the argument for a guy like Matt Davidson. He has big league experience, though all of his 2019 playing time came in the minors at the Triple-A level where he posted an .866 OPS with 33 home runs. By-and-large he’s been a corner infielder, spending most of his time at third base, but plenty at first base as well. With Joey Votto getting older, and as much as it hurts to say, less productive, perhaps a right-handed bat could be used to give him a few extra days off here and there against left-handed pitching. Davidson has always hit lefties better than righties. In Triple-A during 2019 he hit .322/.407/.534 in 135 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers with 16 walks and 30 strikeouts. In the Majors in 2018 he hit .289/.382/.500 against lefties in 131 plate appearances.

There is also an argument that could be made for Christian Colon. He’s not like Davidson at all. He is a right-handed hitter and he can play first and third, so I guess that is similar so they are sort-of-alike in that sense. At the plate, though, they are just about nothing alike. Colon doesn’t have much power. He’s only hit double-digit home runs twice in his career, and he’s been a professional since 2010. What he does do is bring a good plate approach and make plenty of contact. In the last two seasons he’s walked 97 times and struck out just 96 times – combined. He has also seen some limited action at shortstop in Triple-A over the last few years. Like Davidson, he did handle lefties better – hitting .333/.414/.493 with 19 walks and just 12 strikeouts against them in 170 plate appearances last season.

As was noted at the top of the article – it’s going to be tough to break through and win a spot for a non-roster player if everyone is healthy. The options, or lack there of on several players on the 40-man are looming large. But if there’s someone that makes the most sense from the non-roster guys, it’s likely Matt Davidson, who has some pop, can play two spots on the field, and seems to mash left-handed pitching. If the Reds are looking to perhaps add more contact instead of more power, then Christian Colon could be a real option for the organization.

47 Responses

  1. Norwood Nate

    I don’t believe it’s particularly likely that any non-roster position player makes the roster. I think between Ervin, Aquino, VanMeter, Blandino, and Farmer the Reds will find their bench. Even guys like Jankowski or Schebler are probably next in line in case of injuries. I could see a non-roster pitcher make it, Jones if he’s healthy.

    My question then becomes how long do the Reds have before they have to fill out their 40-Man? Hypothetically they could DFA three outfielders and only need to add one pitcher. That’s if both Sims and Reed make the pen. Otherwise there could be more DFA’s.

    I’d guess the Reds would be proactive on the waiver wire to n players with options to fill openings. Just wondered if there was a deadline to have a full 40-man or if it’s just something frowned upon by the player’s union?

    • Scott C

      I agree I don’t really see a non roster position player making the roster. I do see the Reds looking to trade off some of those players that are out of options, perhaps for lower level prospects or perhaps as part of a package foe a shortstop that isn’t Lindor, Seager, or Storey. As it stands now, of those listed above on the 40 man I see Farmer and Van Meter making the roster just due to versatility. I think that leaves the last spot for one of Ervin, Jankowski or Blandino.

      • Oldtimer

        None of those players would bring back a SS better than Galvis.

        I will be very surprised if VanMeter makes 2020 Reds absent an injury. Farmer is more versatile and hit better than JVM in 2019.

        5 or 6 OF. 5 or 6 INF. 2 C. Equals 13 position players.

      • Doug Gray

        Kyle Farmer did not hit better than Josh VanMeter in 2019. VanMeter posted a .735 OPS and an 88 OPS+, while farmer posted a .689 OPS with a 74 OPS+. They weren’t remotely close – VanMeter was significantly better as a hitter.

      • Scott C

        Notice I said “part of a package”. You are right none of them alone would bring us back a better shortstop than Galvis. I even wonder if there is a shortstop that would be available, right now, that would be better than Galvis. I don’t like Galvis’ approach at the plate any more than I did Peraza’s but he has demonstrated some pop.

      • Klugo

        Well, most of difference between VanMeter and Farmer was walk rate. VanMeter walked twice as much. Farmer slugged better.

      • Oldtimer

        Farmer. BA .230 with 9 HR and 27 RBI in 97 G and 197 PA.

        JVM. BA .237 with 8 HR and 23 RBI in 95 G and 260 PA.

        Neither great or even good but Farmer > JVM. AAA stats not included.

      • Doug Gray

        On no planet was Kyle Farmer a better hitter in 2019 than Josh VanMeter. I don’t know how you are trying to frame the argument that the guy who had a higher average, a 40 point edge in on-base percentage and an identical slugging percentage was the worst hitter of the two, but that’s an argument that doesn’t work anywhere. They weren’t close. VanMeter was significantly better.

      • Oldtimer

        Farmer had far fewer PA yet achieved more RBI with fewer H and he hit more HR.

        Derek Dietrich had better analytics than either one.

    • Klugo

      If they had “identical” slugging percentage, then they had “identical” batting average. “Significantly” seems like a stretch.

      • Doug Gray

        40 points of on-base percentage is enormous. And that’s a part of hitting, even if it’s just from the walks, because those walks weren’t outs.

  2. Oldtimer

    At this point, Davidson. Not to say he will make the 26 man OD roster but he is most likely among the choices.

  3. MK

    No one unless there are a couple of infield injuries then I would say Colon. He has comlete infield versatility and gets on base with a solid batting approach.

    • victor vollhardt

      This discussion still comes back to two questions–Why was Peraza with years of control left non tendered (signed by Boston for 3 mil.) and Iglesias, who had a very good year (146 games 145 hits in 530 AB-.288 BA 62 runs 11 HR -59 RB! .980 fielding %) allowed to become a free agent and he signed with Baltimore (also 3 mil.) Both can handle the SS position. I would love for the Reds to answer those two questions and if the answer is they were two bad guys in the clubhouse then I respect the FO/Mgr judgement.. Outside of Hal McCoy no one has asked those questions. I hear no one else even bringing it up and we are going into the season with appears to be a strong team without a true backup SS. Now if still another deal (FA or trade)of some sort is on the horizon to move some pitcher and/or outfielder to get a “frontline” SS or backup (Holt?) SS then this whole comment is moot, but if it stays this way it is a big hole on the roster.

      p

      • Optimist

        A couple of answers to these points.

        1 – As for Iglesias – clearly a stellar glove, but the offense was essentially empty. Doug, and many others, have described the analytics on this. More to the point is your reference to H McCoy and the clubhouse. IIRC, there were some very oblique references to this – seemed more like personal issues than bad influence on the team, but still. All that adds up to he’s a superior defender and that’s about it.

        2 – As for Peraza, it seems a combination of issues – he certainly had his opportunity, his offensive production was, cumulatively, nominal, and his salary was rising. His defense, though multi-positional, was nowhere near Iglesias. IOW, he was a bench player, but at an increasing cost.

        All told, the risk at SS is if Galvis is injured and misses considerable time. They have plenty of spot starters and bench back-up, so they’re only exposed defensively if Galvis is out for an extended time. Offensive production is unaffected, and would be enhanced if they could land Holt, or better.

        Neither Peraza nor Iglesias will have added much to this year’s team.

      • Oldtimer

        My advice would be to look beyond analytics. Iglesias had a good year on offense and a great year on defense. Galvis can do the same in 2020 maybe better on offense.

        Pereza was very good in 2018. Not so good in 2019. Which Peraza will be there in 2020?

      • Optimist

        It seems the issue with Iglesias is wholly outside of analytics, and the analytics don’t affect his value in any case either way. Simple eye test shows a great glove man, and an average hitter. Sounds like a classic, high-priced, back-up on a playoff team, and yet he’s with the Orioles. I’m convinced there’s a non-baseball issue involved and nobody, for obvious reasons, wants to identify it.

        I think Peraza just came down to value – a slight chance he could break out, but the extra few million are best spent elsewhere.

      • Norwood Nate

        Iglesias is a very good defender, but between he and Galvis the difference is very small. Iglesias was 15% below average offensively last year. That was actually a tick down than what he had done the in 2018 (88 OPS+) and could only find a minor league deal. Of our regulars last year (400 PA) he was only better than Peraza and Barnhart. Iglesias had a good batting average, but was below average at getting on base and hitting for power. There’s a reason every team passed on giving him a ML deal his first time in FA, and there’s a reason that he signed a low guaranteed deal with the Orioles, a team that just needs bodies.

      • Charles Lackey

        Igleias should have been kept in case Reds needed him at Short. Too bad Reds did not upgrade in the catching area. I’d still like to see Stephenson get a full shot as regular catcher. Hope Suarez’s injury was not too serious so he can come back at 3rd. Certainly hope his injury did not hinder his hitting & fielding abilities. Finally–LETS HOPE VOTTO HAS AN EXPLOSIVE YEAR. ???GO REDS??

  4. Klugo

    The other question is Ervin or Aquino. As mentioned, Aquino can be sent to AAA, while Ervin cannot. But I think that Aquino is the better option off the bench.

    • MK

      Ervin did an above average job off the bench last year and Aquino has never played that role. Evin is a better baserunner, he doesn’t have Aquino’s arm but is more adept and experienced at playing all three outfield positions. Why would Aquino have more value?

  5. B-town fan

    Kinda weird, Spotrac last week showed Scott Schebler had 1 option left, now it doesn’t. Another thing Spotrac showed, that I and probably a lot of other people didn’t know, is that the Reds are still paying Ken Griffy Jr, he is being paid 3.59 million this season, geez how long has he been gone from the Reds, how long do the deferred payments last. Bronson Arroyo is also being paid at 1.36 million this season.

  6. Colorado Red

    Based on where we are, I think Blandino is the most likely.
    We still need a backup SS, doubt a trade will happen at this time.
    Last year he was still recovering from the ACL.
    Note, ST has a not to do with it, the cream will rise I hope.

  7. Scott C

    Would Dodgers be interested in trading Chris Taylor? Would he be an improvement over Galvis at SS?

    • Oldtimer

      I don’t know. (First ?) No. (Second ?)

      Galvis is a fine SS with a decent bat.

      • Scott C

        Taylor has an OBP that is almost 40 points higher than Galvis and although he had less homers., his OPS was 60 points higher than Galvis. And he played in the cavernous Dodger Stadium.

      • Oldtimer

        Neither OBP nor OPS is meaningful in determining who is the better SS. Galvis is that. Taylor is a good utility player.

      • Oldtimer

        Clipped from Blog Red Machine article:

        … While many Reds fans have clamored for an upgrade at shortstop, this team can easily play into October with Galvis patrolling the middle of the diamond. During the 2019 season, Cincinnati Reds shortstops finished 25th in the majors in slugging percentage and 28th in homers. Those numbers will drastically improve with Freddy Galvis as the everyday shortstop.

        The only National League shortstops to exceed Galvis’ 23 homers last year were Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies, Javer Baez of the Chicago Cubs and Paul DeJong of the St. Louis Cardinals. Not bad company, but the good news only gets better.

        While we were routinely amazed by the glove of José Iglesias, a strong argument can be made that Freddy Galvis is even better with the leather. Galvis is the career active leader with a .9846 fielding percentage among shortstops.

        That number ranks Galvis just ahead of his predecessor Iglesias. Even more impressive, Galvis’ fielding percentage is ranked second all-time for shortstops trailing only former Cleveland Indians great Omar Vizquel …

      • Scott C

        “Neither OBP nor OPS is meaningful in determining who is the better SS.” In any universe it is meaningful. It may not be everything but it is definitely something. A 40 points higher OBP means he is is making a lot fewer outs. 60 point higher OPS means that in addition to that it is not just walks but more extra base hits. Is he as good a fielder as Galvis? I don’t know but from what I have seen his fielding stats are fairly similar to Galvis’. But Taylor brings an OPS+ of 107 from last year where as Galvis’ OPS+ was like 84. Taylor was worth 2.4 WAR last year where as Galvis was 1.6. Because of his defense is Galvis OK. Yes maybe so, but there comes a time when Just OK is not OK. Particularly if there is an upgrade available. LA like Cincinnati has a glut of OFs plus they have Lux who is a SS. Seems they might be willing to part ways with him.

    • Norwood Nate

      I think targeting Taylor would be a smart and creative way to upgrade SS that wouldn’t cost a ton in resources (at least not as much as Lindor, Seager etc). He also comes with positional flexibility. I had mentioned this possibility on RLN a few weeks ago.

    • Doug Gray

      I’m not necessarily sure what you’re asking. Right now they’re holding onto him to see what they’ve got. If you’re asking why I think they’re holding onto him in terms of basically already having him on the 26-man roster- that’s not what I was suggesting in this. I think he’s actually got an uphill battle to make the 26-man roster.

      • RojoBenjy

        Sorry to confuse. My question wasn’t necessarily relevant to the article, but rather pondering why they are even (apparently) pretending that he has a shot.

        If I were to invent some reasons, they would include 1) never know what injuries may come, so hang on to him while able, 2) when he was picked, the Reds had yet to add all the outfielders they now have.

        Maybe I just answered my own question :-/

      • Doug Gray

        Here’s the way I could see Payton making the team: They get a better look at Akiyama in the spring and decide he’s really not a center fielder, while at the same time seeing Payton out there and decide that he can be. And Payton rakes in the spring. That feels like the best way for Payton to grab a spot, assuming health for everyone.

      • Norwood Nate

        The Reds have only added Castellanos and Akiyama since selecting Payton. They’ve also DFA’d Martini and Siri (both were outfielders) since selecting Payton. Long story short, they had the same amount of OF’ers when they selected him as they do now. Just less that were expected to be on the 26-man. The OF glut has been here all offseason.

      • AllTheHype

        Castellanos and Akiyama are starters, and PA consumers. Martini was at best a reserve and Siri was never going to be on the roster in any scenario. So no, the glut of viable OFs is NOT the same.

      • Norwood Nate

        It is the same amount of players and the same amount of players with out options. So the same glut when it comes to 26-man because they still can’t keep all the guys on the roster. Before the FA signings Senzel, Aquino, Winker, and Ervin we’re penciled in to take those PA’s. So they were spoken for one way or another. The guys on the fringes were never going to factor in much, but I don’t think anyone is saying that.
        The glut is about having not enough space, and at this point I don’t see a way that three of these guys are on the roster. Same was true when Payton was selected, but the “starters” have changed.

  8. Jim Delaney

    I dont know if Senzel has a definite spot at beginning of season. First I think he needs to show he has recovered from the torn labrum. Second, if Reds want to win division in 2020, Senzel will likely need to be dealt to improve at SS. Having Senzel in AAA playing 3B everyday will help his trade value.
    Also, I would be shocked to not see Ervin make the team. He kills lefties and has to be in lineup somewhere when they play them.
    Also, if Aquino has a nice spring struggle to see his power not making the team.
    Lastly, think Payton if he shows ability to play CF makes team.
    Will be very interesting to watch. Her is my player roster
    Barnhardt, Casalli
    Votto
    Moustakas
    Galvis- until July
    Suarez
    Winker, Ervin
    Akiyama
    Castellanos
    Aquino
    Payton
    Van Meter

    • Oldtimer

      No backup INF on that 13 man roster. Votto 1B only. Moustakas 2B or 3B. Galvis starting SS. Suarez 3b (and unlikely to play SS in 2020). VanMeter not SS. And not a great hitter except in AAA.

      Senzel will be a Red in 2020. He will not play in AAA except on injury rehab, if applicable.

      • victor vollhardt

        OLDTIMER–(as always) gets right to the point—The reds can not be a serious year long contender with out a strong back up infielder, who can cover 2B-3B SS in late innings (or double switches) and maybe have to step for a prolong period in the event of an injury to one of the regulars. They had two players (at reasonable costs) that could fill that bill and now both are gone. The Reds must make a move to correct this situation.

  9. SteveO

    Reds sign Brock Holt before ST and Matt Davidson takes Schebler roster spot, who is traded or DFAd. Payton returned or acquired through trade. Jankowski traded for minor leaguer to team looking for a 5th OF. That leaves 2 roster spots. One remains open to add a player at the end of ST and the other goes to the most deserving of Raley, Biddle, Carpenter, Jones or Thornburg. That pitcher joins the bullpen and DeLeon goes to Louisville as a starter along with Mahle, Santillan, Antone and Gutierrez. Naughton begins the year in Chattanooga.
    Bench of Casali, Davidson, Holt, Winker and Ervin. This is assuming Suárez and Senzel open season on the active roster. Farmer, VanMeter, Blandino and Aquino, who all have options remaining, get max ABs in Louisville.

    • Optimist

      Went back and looked, and I don’t remember Domonic Brown, but he was a Player of the month in 2013. Since then, the only other “player of the month” to fall out of the league is Scooter. It could happen to Aquino, but it’s worth a 150/200 PAs into June to determine which month was representative.