3 Reds who are about to lose their 40-man roster spots

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Art Warren (77) throws a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Art Warren (77) throws a pitch.
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Cincinnati Reds shortstop Kyle Holder (31) jogs to first on a walk in the first inning.
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Kyle Holder (31) jogs to first on a walk in the first inning. /

The Reds could have as many as six NRIs make the Opening day roster.

In the coming days, the Cincinnati Reds front office will be making a lot of decisions. Who stays and who goes? The Reds have several non-roster invitees who’ve impressed during spring training, and by my count, as many as six of those players could find their way onto the Opening Day roster.

Each team’s 40-man roster has a combination of players who are on the 26-man roster, the injured list, and some minor league players as well. From where I’m sitting, only one player (Brandon Bailey) is likely to be put on the 60-day IL, meaning the Reds will have a tall task in front of them if more than one of their non-roster invitees is to make the Opening Day roster.

Dee Strange-Gordon, Cam Bedrosian, Brandon Finnegan, Tyler Naquin, Jonathan India, and Jesse Biddle all have compelling cases to make the roster. However, if the Cincinnati front office selects one of aforementioned players to be part of the team’s 40-man roster, then a corresponding move must be made. Who’s time as a member of the Cincinnati Reds is up?

1. Kyle Holder, Reds shortstop

The Cincinnati Reds received Kyle Holder in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies earlier this offseason after Didi Gregorius agreed to return to the City of Brotherly Love. Holder was a Rule 5 Draft pick of the Phillies and if the Reds fail to keep him on the 26-man roster all season, he must be offered back to the New York Yankees.

Given that the Reds are giving Eugenio Suárez a chance to win the starting job at shortstop, and have an insurance policy in Kyle Farmer, there’s really no need for Holder to occupy one of the spots on the team’s 40-man roster. Cincinnati also has Dee Strange-Gordon and Alex Blandino who are capable of playing shortstop.

Holder is known for his glove, but the 26-year-old has yet to see any time in the majors and isn’t productive at the plate. While Cincinnati’s infield defense left a lot to be desired last season, it was a detrimental to the team’s success as was the lack of hitting. With Holder unable to assist in that department, he’ll likely be playing elsewhere in 2021.

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Sal Romano (47) throws a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Sal Romano (47) throws a pitch. /

Sal Romano, Reds relief pitcher

Coming into camp, I really thought Sal Romano had a chance to make the team. The big right-hander has failed to impress and other relievers have stepped up their game this spring. Romano has been part of the Reds organization since 2015, but his luck may have finally run out.

It’s a numbers game, really. The Reds are likely to carry eight relief pitcher into Opening Day. With Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims, Sean Doolittle, and Noé Ramirez locks for the 2021 Reds’ bullpen, that leaves just four openings. With Sonny Gray likely to being the season on the IL, one of the group of José De León, Jeff Hoffman, and Tejay Antone are likely to be moved into the rotation.

However, Romano would still be behind the likes of Cionel Pérez, Jesse Biddle, Cam Bedrosian, and even Brandon Finnegan. Romano has allowed seven hits through 4.1 innings of work and struck out four batters while also walking four. Those numbers aren’t enough to justify his standing on the 40-man roster.

Romano was, at one time, thought to be on his way to becoming a successful starting pitcher in the majors. Romano started 16 games in 2017, posting a 4.45 ERA in his rookie season and a 101 ERA+.

Unfortunately, the following season was Sal Romano’s undoing, as the right-hander surrendered 23 long balls and was eventually removed from the starting rotation. Romano is one of five Reds pitchers who is out of minor league options.

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Art Warren (77) warms up.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Art Warren (77) warms up. /

Art Warren, Reds relief pitcher

If Sal Romano is likely to be removed from the 40-man roster, so is Art Warren. The Cincinnati Reds acquired the right-hander via trade back in January. Warren was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners but was picked up off waivers by Texas after last season.

Warren, an Ohio native, was a 23rd round draft pick of the M’s back in 2015 and actually made his big league debut versus the Reds back in September of 2019. Unfortunately, that scoreless 1/3 of an inning might have been Warren’s best stuff in thee majors.

Warren has a grand total of six big league games under his belt and just 5.1 innings of work. During spring training, much like Sal Romano, Warren has fallen behind several other relief pitchers. While Warren has minor league options remaining, it’s very likely that Cincinnati will need at least four spots on the 40-man roster and maybe more.

The Reds coaching staff has taken a liking to Max Schrock, Scott Heineman has exceeded expectations this spring, Deivy Grullón gives Cincinnati an additional catcher on it’s 40-man roster. He’s also racked up two home runs and six RBIs in just 10 at-bats during Cactus League.

Next. Predicting the Reds Opening Day roster 2.0

As was the case with Romano, it’s a simple numbers game. With only so many spots available, Cincinnati’s front office and coaching staff will have to make some difficult cuts. If circumstances were different, perhaps Art Warren would be given the opportunity to improve in the minor leagues. But, with so many talented pitchers in the mix, that’s not a luxury the Reds have this year.