3 former Reds players who could replace injured infielder Jeimer Candelario

If Jeimer Candelario misses time, should the Reds bring back an old friend?
Former Cincinnati Reds infielder Alejo Lopez
Former Cincinnati Reds infielder Alejo Lopez / Aaron Doster/GettyImages

The severity of Jeimer Candelario's injury is not yet known, but judging by the way this season has gone, Reds fans aren't expecting good news. The Cincinnati Reds biggest free agent pickup this offseason suffered an elbow injury near the end of Wednesday night's game in Philadelphia and was replaced by Santiago Espinal.

At the moment, Candelario's injury is being called a hyper-extended elbow and the Reds training staff isn't concerned. But Reds Country has seen this movie before. Matt McLain wasn't supposed to miss much time, but a second opinion on his injured shoulder resulted in what could be season-ending surgery.

The Reds depth has already been tested this season, which is why Cincinnati traded for Espinal shortly before Opening Day. The club doesn't have many in-house options to take over should Candelario land on the IL, meaning the Reds might have to look outside the organization. Are there any former players still on the open market or who could be had in a trade?

Reds could trade for Braves infielder Alejo Lopez

Many Reds fans were disillusioned when Alejo Lopez left the organization this past offseason. Lopez became a free agent for the first time in his career and eventually signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves that included an invite to spring training. Always a fan favorite, Lopez got the most out of his abilities despite his small stature and late-round draft status.

The Grapefruit League was not very kind to Lopez this spring. He hit just .200/.250/.267 in nine games. Lopez had just four hits, only one of which went for extra bases. The 27-year-old is well-regarded as a hit-over-power player with a career .265 batting average.

Lopez is currently playing for the Gwinnett Stripers, so if the Reds wanted to bring him back to Cincinnati it would involve a trade. But for a career minor-league player like Lopez, one would imagine that a simple deal involving cash considerations would be enough to send the versatile infielder on his way back to the Queen City.

Reds could trade for Diamondbacks shortstop Kevin Newman

Hello, Newman! The Reds and Kevin Newman parted ways last season after the former Pittsburgh Pirates infielder was squeezed off the roster with the additions of McLain, Elly De La Cruz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Noelvi Marte.

Newman signed a minor-league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks this spring, but was designated for assignment shortly before Opening Day. Newman decided to stay with the organization and is currently playing for the Reno Aces, Arizona's Triple-A affiliate.

Newman was a solid utility addition to the Reds roster last season and hit well against left-handed pitching. If the Reds are without the switch-hitting Candelario for awhile, Newman could be a possible replacement. The veteran hit .253/.311/.364 last season, but against left-handed pitching posted an .813 OPS. Newman would also be a fine backup at shortstop for De La Cruz with Marte and McLain out of action.

Jordan Lawlar's injury may make acquiring Newman a little more difficult, as the D-backs depth at shortstop certainly took a hit after one of their top prospects landed on the IL. Trading for an established major leaguer like Newman, despite the fact he hit just .194 this spring, might cost a little bit more than a player to be named later.

Reds could re-sign Josh Harrison to a new deal

Of all the players listed, this seems like the most logical. While Tony Kemp has found a new home after agreeing to a contract with the Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati native Josh Harrison is still without a job after spending spring training with the Reds in Goodyear.

Harrison was non-roster invitee earlier this spring, and just like Kemp and Mike Ford did not make the final cut. Harrison has yet to sign with a new team since being let go by the Reds, but could be signed to a new free agent deal - this time with a major league guarantee.

Harrison played with the Reds earlier this spring, so he already has familiarity with the players on the roster and the coaching staff. Harrison is the consummate professional, and though he didn't have the best stat line this spring, was still a good teammate and solid veteran presence in the clubhouse.

The hope is, of course, that Candelario's injury isn't serious and that he can return as soon as Friday night when the Reds play the New York Mets. But Reds fans are bit jaded at this point following so many promises over the years about injuries being minor at first only to turn into something bigger. Hopefully, that's not the case with Candelario.

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