Predicting the Cincinnati Reds’ Opening Day Roster

Mar 4, 2016; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price (38) and Reds bench coach Jim Riggleman (35) look on during the national anthem prior to facing the San Francisco Giants at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2016; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price (38) and Reds bench coach Jim Riggleman (35) look on during the national anthem prior to facing the San Francisco Giants at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Reds likely have fewer locks to make the roster than any other team in baseball, so here’s a prediction on who makes the club.

Spring training is winding to a close and the Reds’ roster still sits at 40 players. Many of the open competitions look as unsettled now as they did when the team reported to Arizona over a month ago.

With only one week until Opening Day against the Philadelphia Phillies in Great American Ball Park, the roster decisions from manager Bryan Price, general manager Dick Williams and general manager Walt Jocketty will have to come soon.

But before that happens, here is our prediction of who will make the 25-man roster to begin the 2016 season.

Starting eight: 

Devin Mesoraco (C)

Joey Votto (1B)

Brandon Phillips (2B)

Zack Cozart (SS)

Eugenio Suarez (3B)

Adam Duvall (LF)

Billy Hamilton (CF)

Jay Bruce (RF)

There’s nothing too surprising here. If these eight players are healthy, they’ll make up the Opening Day lineup.

The only open spot among the starting eight heading into spring was, as always, left field. For now, Duvall has more than likely earned the job by batting .321 with a team-leading three home runs this spring. Price has mentioned using a platoon at the position, so this could — and probably will — be subject to change.

Starting rotation: 

Anthony DeSclafani (RHP)

Raisel Iglesias (RHP)

Brandon Finnegan (LHP)

Alfredo Simon (RHP)

Tim Melville (RHP)

The rotation could easily look very different a month into the season as pitchers like John Lamb and Homer Bailey return to action, but this should be the staff to open up the year.

DeSclafani should get the start on Opening Day, while the rest of the order is up in the air. Iglesias hasn’t pitched more than three innings in a spring outing yet, meaning Simon or Finnegan could get the Opening Night start in the second game of the year.

Melville, signed as a minor league free agent after spending last season in the Detroit Tigers’ farm system, should start the year in Cincinnati in place of Jon Moscot, who has battled an intercostal strain and likely won’t be ready in time for the season to start, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan. Although it hasn’t been a fantastic spring for Melville (5.71 ERA, 1.56 WHIP), he’s the team’s only other option right now in order to delay starting the service clocks of top prospects Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed.


Tucker Barnhart (C)

Ivan De Jesus Jr. (1B/2B/SS/3B/LF)

Jake Cave (OF)

Yorman Rodriguez (OF)

Scott Schebler (OF)

Barnhart and De Jesus are the only locks here. The former has established himself as the Reds’ backup catcher, while the latter has impressed in a super-utility role and can play all four infield spots in addition to left field. From there, it gets tricky.

If the Reds don’t include Cave — a Rule 5 draft selection — on the 25-man roster for the entire 2016 season, he must be offered back to the New York Yankees. He’s slowed down after a hot start to the spring, but showed enough early on that he should make the club even if he’s not entirely major-league ready.

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Rodriguez could also be lost if he doesn’t make the roster because he’s out of options. The former top-10 prospect has displayed improved plate discipline this spring, walking eight times in 48 plate appearances. However, he hasn’t had much luck with the bat in spring action, hitting only .225. He’s only 23 years old, however, so it’d be a surprise if the Reds gave up on him.

Based on his spring performance, Schebler should make the team (.255/.327/.532, four doubles, three home runs) and platoon with Duvall in left field. He has options, however, so he could be sent to Triple-A Louisville if the team decides to keep another catcher and utility player (Jordan Pacheco) or top infield prospect Jose Peraza on the roster. Unless the team is still concerned about Mesoraco’s hip, it’s difficult to see Pacheco making it over Schebler. If the Reds feel they can get Peraza enough at-bats in the majors, he could also make the club over Schebler as a backup second baseman, shortstop and center fielder. He’ll be guaranteed everyday playing time in Triple-A, making that his likely destination.


J.J. Hoover (RHP)

Tony Cingrani (LHP)

Jumbo Diaz (RHP)

Pedro Villarreal (RHP)

Keyvius Sampson (RHP)

Ross Ohlendorf (RHP)

Chris O’Grady (LHP)

The bullpen has started to take shape in the last week, as some candidates have been removed from the spring roster and an outside option has been brought into the fold.

Hoover has been the only pitcher named as a lock and will serve as the team’s closer. Based on spring performance, it would be a surprise if Cingrani, Sampson and Villarreal don’t get a spot as well. Ohlendorf was signed to a big-league deal on Saturday, so he should make the team, too.

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At the beginning of March, Diaz also looked to be a lock after his solid second-half performance in 2015. His spot could be in jeopardy now, as he has allowed seven runs and 13 hits in eight spring innings. It wouldn’t be a huge shock if Diaz is not on the Opening Day roster, but he’s here for now based on the way he threw down the stretch last year.

The final spot is a mystery. O’Grady is another Rule 5 pick, meaning he has to stay with the Reds all season, and is the team’s only left-handed option aside from Cingrani. But he’s been all over the board this spring, with five appearances in which he’s given up no earned runs (and spotless outings in three of his first four games) and three outings in which he’s given up a combined 10 runs. Though he’s on our roster right now, the Reds could very well send him back to the Los Angeles Angels.

If the Reds decide to cut ties with O’Grady or if they go with eight relievers like they did for much of last season, look for Caleb Cotham and/or Drew Hayes to be included. After a slow start, Cotham — part of the return from the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman trade — has pitched well over his last several appearances, allowing one run and striking out nine over his last 6.2 innings. Hayes has allowed only one run this spring while striking out nine in eight innings.

This would would leave Blake Wood, Dayan DiazRyan Mattheus and J.C. Ramirez as the odd men out, with Wood likely to be designated for assignment after being the Reds’ only major-league signing in the offseason.

Agree with the prediction? Think the prediction is terrible? Let us know in the comments!