Cincinnati Reds: Who gets the final 3 spots on the Opening Day roster?

Cincinnati Reds right fielder Aristides Aquino (44) flashes his signature arm flex for fans.
Cincinnati Reds right fielder Aristides Aquino (44) flashes his signature arm flex for fans. /

We’re down to the wire, and there are still three spots up for grabs. While it’s not yet known if Carson Fulmer made the team or not, it’s assumed the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff is ready to go. There’s still the matter of three position players who’ve yet to be added to the Opening Day roster.

In addition to Fulmer, we know that Tejay Antone, Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims, Sal Romano, Cam Bedrosian, Cionel Perez, and Sean Doolittle will make up the Reds bullpen. Luis Castillo will start on April 1 versus the St. Louis Cardinals, and the quartet of Tyler Mahle, Jose De Leon, Wade Miley, and Jeff Hoffman will follow.

Who will get the final three spots on the Reds Opening Day roster?

When it comes to the position players, 10 fo the 13 spots are spoken for. Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, and Mike Moustakas make up 75% of the Reds infield. The Cincinnati faithful feel pretty confident that Jonathan India will make his big league debut on Opening Day.

There’s a small chance that David Bell could choose to go with someone else, but that would almost assuredly be to manipulate India’s service time in order to gain an additional year of team control. If the Reds are opening the season with their best lineup on the field, Jonathan India has to make the team.

In order to free up a spot on the 40-man roster, Cincinnati could offer Rule 5 draft pick Kyle Holder back to New York Yankees. Holder was traded to the Reds following the Phillies’ two-year agreement with Didi Gregorius, however, Holder was initially a Rule 5 draft pick of Philadelphia.

Who gets the final spot in the Reds outfield?

So, if we assume India is in, then we move to the Cincinnati outfield. Nick Senzel, Nick Castellanos, and Jesse Winker will occupy the outfield grass on Opening Day. Shogo Akiyama is out with an injured hamstring and Tyler Naquin’s contract was selected today, meaning the former Cleveland Indians outfielder will be in the Queen City on Opening Day.

So, the final spot in the Reds outfield comes down to Mark Payton and Aristides Aquino. To me, this is a pretty simple choice. Aquino is out of minor-league options. If the Reds don’t want to expose The Punisher to waivers, they’ll send Payton down to Triple-A Louisville.

With Naquin on the team, Cincinnati already has a left-handed hitting outfielder who can play all three positions. Aquino is a right-handed hitter and that power is something you can’t teach. Look for The Punisher, despite the fact he’s been outplayed this spring, to make the 26-man roster.

Who gets the final spot in the Reds infield?

If Kyle Farmer is the first bat off the Reds bench, Cincinnati needs one more utility infielder. The final spot on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster will come down to Alex Blandino and Max Schrock. I really like both players and expect Blandino and Schrock to see time in the big leagues this season.

However, knowing how Bell likes to operate, I’m leaning towards the left-handed  hitting Schrock with the right-handed hitting Farmer already in the mix. But, if Joey Votto isn’t fully recovered from his bout with COVID-19, Blandino, who has more experience at first base than Schrock, could get the nod.

Next. 5 Reds players ready to break out in 2021

Either way, we’re talking about the 26th man on this year’s roster. I, for one, am a fan of the underdog and always enjoy watching gritty, hard-nosed players like Blandino and Schrock see their hard work pay off. But, if we’re worried about who gets the 26th spot on the roster, the Cincinnati Reds have bigger problems.