3 Reds players who still haven't earned a roster spot

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Ryan Hendrix (68) delivers a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Ryan Hendrix (68) delivers a pitch. / Kareem Elgazzar via Imagn Content
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While the MLB Playoffs are still in full swing, we're sure to see some shakeups in Cincinnati Reds clubhouse over the next few weeks.

The non-tender deadline is quickly approaching and few players will enter free agency. Others have club-options that will need to be exercised or else they'll be looking for a new team.

The Reds will only be able to carry 40 players on their offseason roster and the number is currently sitting at 39. They'll be a few young prospects added in the coming weeks and some of the pre-arbitration eligible players may not be tendered a contract.

Each year, however, there's a handful of players who seem like they just haven't earned that coveted roster spot.

Last year, it was Robert Stephenson, and low and behold, the right-hander was dealt to Colorado in exchange for Jeff Hoffman.

So which players, currently on the 40-man roster, have yet to earn their spot? Taking the free agents to-be (Michael Lorenzen, Mychal Givens, and Asdrúbal Cabrera) out of the equation, which players are on thin ice as the Reds prepare to construct their offseason roster?

1. Ryan Hendrix, Reds pitcher

I have to say, I was quite disappointed with Ryan Hendrix's performance in 2021. I think it's fair to assume that a rookie reliever is going to have some struggles during his first season, but Hendirx failed to fix those problems after returning to Triple-A.

Hendrix was quickly promoted to the majors in May. In Hendrix's first five games in the big leagues, the right-hander did not allow a single run. Heck, he didn't even allow a hit.

Unfortunately, it seems those five games and three innings-worth of work were all the rest of the league needed to figure Hendrix out. Over his next 10 outings, Hendrix allowed 13 hits in 10.2 innings and struck out 11 batters while walking five and posting a 6.75 ERA.

June and July weren't very kind to the rookie and Hendrix owned a 6.50 ERA over 18 innings while allowing 20 hits. Hendrix allowed multiple hits in six of his 21 appearances and was sent back to Triple-A.

After allowing four runs on four hits during his first two games back in Triple-A, Ryan Hendrix seemed to straighten things out, putting up zeroes in four consecutive appearances. Unfortunately for Hendrix, his final 10 outings saw the right-hander post a 10.24 ERA while walking nine batters over 9.2 innings.

Hendrix certainly hasn't earned his roster spot, and being that he'll be 27 years old before Opening Day next season, he doesn't have youth on his side. I'm not suggesting the Reds should cut ties with Hendrix just yet, but his seat has to be a little warm.

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Riley O'Brien (57) delivers a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Riley O'Brien (57) delivers a pitch. / Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

2. Riley O'Brien, Reds pitcher

Like Ryan Hendrix, I think the Reds brass expected more out of Riley O'Brien in 2021. Not so much at the major league level, but he never really excelled at Triple-A Louisville.

It's unfair to judge O'Brien on his first and only major league start, a game that he was thrust into because of an injury to Wade Miley. O'Brien, pitching just 1.1 innings, walked two batters, struck out two batters, and allowed two gopher balls.

But it's not as if O'Brien had a terrific season with the Louisville Bats. The right-hander appeared in 23 games including 22 starts and posted a 4.55 ERA over 112.2 innings of work. O'Brien struck out 121 batters while walking 55.

The 24.7% strikeout-rate is impressive, but the 11.2% walk-rate is not. O'Brien is known as a strike thrower, but he was still erratic this season; unable to control and command his pitches.

Like Hendrix, O'Brien will be 27 years old prior to the start of the 2022 season. It's doubtful that O'Brien sniffs an opportunity to start, but the former Tampa Bay Rays' prospect could find a home in the bullpen.

The Reds bullpen was a train wreck last season, so it's more likely that the team will give O'Brien an opportunity to latch on as a reliever rather than just let him go. Still, there's no way O'Brien can be confident that he has an assured spot on the Reds roster heading into the offseason.

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Alex Blandino (0) catches a put-out.
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Alex Blandino (0) catches a put-out. / Sam Greene via Imagn Content Services,

3. Alex Blandino, Reds infielder

It just feels like the deck is stacked against Alex Blandino at this point. Though the former first-round pick actually made the Reds Opening Day roster this season, it feels as though it'll be an uphill climb if the Stanford alum hopes to stay on the team over the winter.

Though not slated for arbitration, it feels as though Blandino is a prime candidate to be non-tendered in a few weeks. With the ascension of Jose Barrero, we're likely to see Kyle Farmer become the team's No. 1 utility player off the bench.

Combine that with the play of Max Schrock last season, and it's going to be very hard for Blandino to find a spot on next year's team. Blandino is also out of minor-league options, meaning he must remain on the active roster or be exposed to waivers.

Things went downhill for Blandino after a brutal knee injury robbed him of half his rookie campaign and a good portion of the 2019 season. Blandino did not play in the big leagues in 2020 and only participated in 43 games last season.

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Alex Blandino will be 29 years old when the season kicks off in 2022 and there are some good young infielders like Alejo Lopez and Brian Rey who seem like better long-term options. After all this time, it still doesn't feel like Blandino's roster spot is secure.