Reds news: Sal Romano could be surprising addition to Opening Day roster

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Sal Romano throws a pitch during a Cincinnati Reds instrasquad scrimmage.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Sal Romano throws a pitch during a Cincinnati Reds instrasquad scrimmage. /

With the recent transactions, it looks like Sal Romano might survive the last round of cuts and open the 2021 season on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. Cincinnati announced it has selected the contracts of Cam Bedrosian and Tyler Naquin while reassigning Heath Hembree, Braden Shipley, and Mike Freeman to minor league camp.

Adding Naquin and Bedrosian to the 40-man roster isn’t overly surprising. Both veterans performed well this spring. Bedrosian is a steady presence who could bolster the team’s bullpen and Naquin was a savvy addition by GM Nick Krall earlier this spring. Naquin’s presence will be necessary with the absence of Shogo Akiyama to start the 2021 season.

Sal Romano looks to be on track to make the Reds Opening Day roster.

While today’s transactions help pave the way for Sal Romano to make the cut, it was the dismissal of former Los Angeles Angels reliever Noe Ramirez that really opened up the possibility for Big Sally to find a home on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster.

As it stands, Bedrosian, Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims, Tejay Antone, Sean Doolittle, and Cionel Perez are set to be six of the eight relievers at David Bell’s disposal to start the season. That means there’s two spots left, and Romano and Carson Fulmer are the only relief pitchers remaining on the 40-man roster.

Of course, Krall and Cincinnati’s front office could throw us a curveball, but I think it’s a safe bet to include Fulmer and Romano, both of whom are out of minor-league options, among the group of relief pitchers set to open the 2021 season at Great American Ball Park on Thursday versus the St. Louis Cardinals.

Adding Tyler Naquin narrows Aristides Aquino’s chances of making the Reds.

As was said earlier, the addition of Tyler Naquin isn’t surprising. Naquin is the perfect fourth outfielder for this year’s Reds team, at least until Akiyama returns. That means the fight for the final spot in the Reds outfield comes down to Aristides Aquino and Mark Payton.

While Payton has outplayed Aquino this spring, The Punisher does not have any minor-league options remaining, and would be a right-handed compliment to the left-handed hitting Naquin. Payton is also a left-handed batter.

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That brings even more clarity to the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. With 11 position players spoken for, the final two spots come down to Max Schrock, Alex Blandino, Kyle Holder, and Jonathan India. We’ll likely hear something very soon on that front as well.