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  • Writer's pictureThe Twin Killing

UPDATED 3/21: 2024 Cincinnati Reds Opening Day Roster Predictions

26 Spots available. We refreshed our prediction for 2024.

Actor Dennis Haysbert as superstitious slugger Pedro Cerrano on the set of “Major League” conducting a ritual to avoid being cut in Spring Training. (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

It is that time of year. 26 players will be Reds to start 2024. There are currently 44 players in camp.

The Predictions

Catcher (2)

Tyler Stephenson, Luke Maile

At this time last season, the catching position was one of the clearest certainties for the Reds roster. This is also true in 2024, with the exception that there will be two catchers instead of three. Last year, the plan was to preserve Stephenson by having him share time at first base and DH.

This plan fell apart by May, due in part to Stephenson's consistent offensive woes. He is hoping for a massive rebound back to his above-average hitting that he has displayed in the past. Luke Maile, who will serve as the backup, was a pleasant surprise with the bat and a consistent performer behind the plate last season.

Infield (5) *Updated 3/21/2024

Jeimer Candelario, Jonathan India, Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Josh Harrison * + Santiago Espinal, + Mike Ford, - Matt McLain (IL, shoulder), - Josh Harrison (opted out of minor league deal)

The way things are looking, Cincinnati will likely have 6 infielders when camp breaks. This group is headlined by rookie sensations Elly De La Cruz and Matt McLain. De La Cruz looks to be the shortstop going forward, and the hope is that last year's growing pains will be behind him. His electric talent is clear, and he will look to make more consistent contact and clean up mistakes in the field.

Despite all the buzz around EDLC, Matt McLain emerged as the more consistent player of the two, with a sky-high talent ceiling. He played well enough to secure the role as the team's starting second baseman, forcing 2021 Rookie of the Year Jonathan India into a utility role. Although McLain's health has been in question, it looks like he should be good to go for Opening Day.

It is important to note that with the 2024 roster outlook, we are considering Spencer Steer an outfielder, although he figures to see time at numerous positions. With the frustrating news of Noelvi Marte's 80-game PED suspension, free-agent signing Jeimer Candelario figures to be the team's regular third baseman. The switch-hitter will also appear at 1B and DH as David Bell shuffles his options. The Marte suspension also opens up the door for Christian Encarnacion-Strand to likely serve as the primary first baseman. With the punch he packs, his bat will be a great feature in the lineup.

The remaining infielders are wild cards. According to Mark Sheldon and Reds manager David Bell, India will see time at 1B, 2B, 3B, and outfield this season. If McLain ends up needing an IL stint to start the season, India will temporality reprise his role as the starting 2B. It will be interesting to see how India handles a role of versatility.

With one spot remaining, I am predicting the Reds bring non-roster invitee and Cincinnati native Josh Harrison into the fold. Harrison has played every position in his career except catcher, and he will provide a much-needed veteran presence. The Reds decided against giving Jose Barrero one more chance at the Major League level, opening the door wider for the veteran.

*Matt McLain has a shoulder injury that must be bad, as it has prompted the Reds to acquire IF Santiago Espinal. Both Tony Kemp and Josh Harrison have opted out of their minor league pacts once they were informed that they had not made the team, but neither of them were realistic backup options at shortstop, which Espinal provides.

Erik Gonzalez remains in camp as a backup shortstop, but the Espinal acquisition likely will send him to AAA. A 40-man roster spot has not been announced for Espinal - hopefully this does not come in the form of McLain moving to the 60-day IL. Casey Legumina and Bubba Thompson seem like realistic candidates to designate off the roster.

Lefty DH/1B Mike Ford also appears slated to crack the team. Ford is not on the 40-man roster, so a corresponding move will need to be made for him as well if he does make it.

Outfield (5) *Updated 3/21/2024

Spencer Steer, TJ Friedl, Will Benson, Jake Fraley, Stuart Fairchild * + Mike Ford, + Nick Martini, - TJ Friedl (IL, wrist)

The outfield to begin 2024 should be straightforward. Spencer Steer will be making a full-time move to the outfield after a strong rookie campaign. T.J. Friedl has played his way into the starting CF job, and his dual-threat ability at the plate and strong defense has been fun to watch develop. Fraley and Benson will share time in right field and filling in at LF or CF as needed.

With Friedl, Fraley, and Benson all being left-handed, the fifth outfielder will likely be a battle between Stuart Fairchild and Bubba Thompson. Nick Martini remains in camp and showed some decent pop in 2023, but is at a disadvantage on the depth chart due to the lefties mentioned above. The Reds seem to be high on Fairchild despite his overall unimpressive and replaceable career numbers, but it appears he will have the chance to contribute off the bench to start the year.

*TJ Friedl has a fractured wrist that will have him on the shelf to open 2024. This likely secures Stuart Fairchild's place on the team, and opens the door for lefty Nick Martini, who is already on the 40-man roster.

Starting Rotation (5)

Hunter Greene, Frankie Montas, Graham Ashcraft, Andrew Abbott, Nick Martinez

The Reds truly needed some reinforcements to bolster the young rotation, and they now have it in Frankie Montas. Despite pitching only 9 games in 2 years, he is hoping to return to his 2021 form, when he led the league in games started. Montas will be joined by aspiring ace Hunter Greene, who has shown flashes of greatness and will be the Opening Day starter barring any injuries.

Graham Ashcraft will hopefully be more consistent this year after after many ups and downs to start his career. Abbott was truly fun to watch pitch last year, bringing a veteran composure to the mound as a rookie. He will be the only lefty in the rotation to start the season, as Nick Lodolo will likely need time to ramp up as he returns from a leg injury. This means offseason signing Nick Martinez should get an opportunity as a starter, where he had moderate success with San Diego.

Bullpen (8) *Updated 3/21/2024

Alexis Diaz, Emilio Pagan, Lucas Sims, Buck Farmer, Tejay Antone, Brent Suter, Alex Young, Sam Moll * + Justin Wilson, - Alex Young

A strong, reliable bullpen is a must for any competitive team, especially one with several young starters in the mix. It is a nice change of pace to feel confident about a group of relievers heading into a season. Diaz has emerged as one of the top closers in the game, coming off his first All Star selection.

Emilio Pagan will look to make a positive impression in his first season with the Reds, joined by returning righties Sims, Farmer, and Antone. Antone's health is a perennial question mark, but he is a game changer when available.

Perhaps the most exciting part of this bullpen is the presence of three solid lefties in Suter, Moll, and Young. David Bell will have a lot of flexibility with all of these weapons at his disposal.

*Alex Young will start 2024 on the injured list (back). Justin Wilson has interestingly been signed to a Major League deal, securing his place on the active Opening Day roster. Wilson, 36, must have something the Reds like, as they have brought him back after 26 injury riddled appearances across 2021-2022.

Tony Santillan is having an excellent spring, and Fernando Cruz is already on the 40-man roster, but it appears the Reds would rather directly replace Young with another lefty. Santillan is already on a minor league deal and is out of minor league options, so the Reds will keep him on reserve in AAA to start the year.

The Wilson signing might also mean that lefty Sam Moll is not expected to be ready to go for Opening Day, which would likely give Cruz the inside track due to his current roster position. Moll has been limited this spring.

Injured List

Nick Lodolo, Ian Gibaut, Matt McLain, Alex Young, Brandon Williamson



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