Cincinnati Reds: Predicting an expanded 30-man Opening Day roster

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Aristides Aquino #44, Eugenio Suarez #7 and Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Aristides Aquino #44, Eugenio Suarez #7 and Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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MIAMI, FLORIDA – AUGUST 29: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Bench players (6)

Phillip Ervin, Nick Senzel, Mark Payton, Curt Casali, Kyle Farmer and Derek Dietrich

This will most certainly be the most interesting roster battle to watch before the 2020 season kicks off. The Cincinnati Reds have a plethora of good, young talent who can play multiple positions, but those who make the cut may be decided based on a couple different factors. Minor-league options being one of the biggest.

Phillip Ervin is out of minor-league options, and after dominating left-handers last season, one has to think that Ervin is lock to make the squad. Kyle Farmer’s versatility to play all over the infield, including catcher, makes him invaluable and secures his spot on the Cincinnati bench. We mentioned Casali earlier. He’ll platoon with Tucker Barnhart behind the plate.

So, three of the six are easy selections. Actually, make that four. The delayed start to the season virtually guarantees that Nick Senzel will be recovered from offseason surgery. Last year’s starting centerfielder could have an interesting role heading into 2020. An infielder by trade, Senzel’s versatility might find him a start or two at second or third base depending on the schedule.

If he’s used exclusively in the outfield, expect Senzel to stick in center field. Shogo Akiyama will likely get his fair share of starts there as well, but the Japanese-born outfielder could also slide over to left field on occasion as well, giving Cincinnati a starting outfield of Akiyama, Senzel and Nick Castellanos.

An expanded roster may really increase the chances that we see Mark Payton make the cut. A Rule 5 draftee, Payton must make the roster or be offered back to the Oakland A’s. A left-handed bat off the bench is a must as well, and that will likely come down to Derek Dietrich and Josh VanMeter. Last year’s rookie has two minor-league options remaining, so we’ll keep Dietz for now.

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Notable players who didn’t make this roster projection were Aristides Aquino, David Carpenter and Alex Blandino. All three, and others currently on the roster, will likely be in the mix once an abbreviated spring training starts up again.