3 most difficult decisions the Reds must make before the end of spring training

Reds manager David Bell will have to make some tough choices this spring.

Cincinnati Reds infielder Noelvi Marte
Cincinnati Reds infielder Noelvi Marte / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages
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Will Reds relievers Fernando Cruz and Tejay Antone begin the season in the minor leagues?

A recent roster projection from MLB.com saw Fernando Cruz absent from the Opening Day roster. Not only that, but Tejay Antone's name wasn't among the 26 players breaking camp as well. This wasn't a misprint, and in fact, Reds beat writer Mark Sheldon could be on to something.

Though Cruz, who will technically be entering just his second major league season in 2024, has arguably the best stuff among the relief corps outside of Alexis Diaz, he may not be part of the Opening Day roster. Why? Because he has minor-league options remaining.

The Reds bullpen will likely feature Diaz, Lucas Sims, Ian Gibaut, Buck Farmer, and Sam Moll along with newcomers Nick Martinez, Emilio Pagán, and Brent Suter. Other than Diaz and Moll, not other player has minor-league options left. That means that in order to squeeze Cruz or Antone onto the Opening Day roster, it means waving goodbye to one or two of the veterans.

This will be a fascinating story to follow throughout spring training. The two players who are most vulnerable are arguably Gibaut and Farmer. However, after seeing both pitchers gut it out down the stretch in 2023, it would take a massive implosion during Cactus League play and a phenomenal effort from Cruz or Antone to displace one of those right-handers.

Strange as it may seem, two of the Cincinnati Reds most talented relievers could be leaving Arizona with a plane ticket for Kentucky rather than Ohio. But this once again speaks to the depth that this year's Reds team has. It's a good problem to have.