Cincinnati Reds: Predicting the Opening Day roster 1.0

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 26: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 26: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
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Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds bats during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 22: Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds bats during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Reds roster predictions: Reserves (5)

Nick Senzel, Tyler Stephenson, Alex Blandino, Dee Strange-Gordon, Tyler Naquin

This will be one of the most intriguing camp battles to watch; who snags the final spots on the Cincinnati Reds bench. Nick Senzel is a given and will find his name in the starting lineup on plenty of occasions during the 2021 season. Tyler Stephenson is a virtual lock to be Tucker Barnhart’s backup, and he’ll also be in the starting lineup quite often during the upcoming season.

The final few spots, however, are a toss up. Alex Blandino has one minor-league option remaining, so the possibility of the former first-round pick starting the 2021 season at Triple-A Louisville is a very real possibility. However, I believe Blandino is a dark horse candidate to win the shortstop job outright during spring training, and will make a strong push to be on the Opening Day roster.

Dee Strange-Gordon brings versatility to the Reds lineup, and I do believe that David Bell and his staff will give the left-handed hitting speedster some time at shortstop this spring. While I view Strange-Gordon as more of an outfielder, the position he’s played most often over the past few seasons is second base.

Challenging for the final spot in the outfield will be the trio of Aristides Aquino, Tyler Naquin, and Mark Payton. I would also caution fans not to sleep on Scott Heinemann either. There’s a chance that Kyle Holder could make the cut as a Rule 5 draftee, but I’m not sure his glove is enough to allow him to enter the conversation.

Next. Trade package proposals centered around Senzel

Payton has two minor-league options remaining, so I’m assuming he’ll be opening the season at Triple-A Louisville unless he absolutely sets the world on fire during Cactus League play. That narrows the choice down to Naquin and Aquino. While I’m a big fan of The Punisher, he hasn’t been the same since August of 2019.