4 players who could replace Noelvi Marte on the Reds Opening Day roster & 2 who won't

Noelvi Marte was suspended for the first 80 games of the 2024 season.

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Josh Harrison tracks a pop fly
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Josh Harrison tracks a pop fly / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Noelvi Marte's will miss the first half of the 2024 season. The Cincinnati Reds third baseman violated MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program and received an 80-game suspension. Without Marte in the lineup, the Reds are likely to lean heavily on Jeimer Candelario and Christian Encarnacion-Strand at third base. Jonathan India will see an increase in playing time as well.

Marte will begin the season on the restricted list, but will be able to practice as the Reds spring training facility after the team returns to Cincinnati. The infielder can then participate in a rehab assignment before rejoining the team later this summer.

But there is an obvious vacancy on the Reds Opening Day roster and little time for manager David Bell to fill it. The regular season begins in less than three weeks. Which four players have a chance to replace Marte on the Reds roster, and who doesn't have a shot.

4 players who could replace Noelvi Marte on the Reds Opening Day roster & 2 who won't

Jose Barrero could sneak onto the Reds Opening Day roster

About the only way Barrero was going to find his way onto the Reds roster was for someone ahead of him on the depth chart to start the season on the injured list. Marte will begin the year on restricted list, but the point remains.

Barrero is out of minor league options and now has a chance to play his way onto the Reds Opening Day roster. The majority of Barrero's playing time has come in the outfield this spring, but he has plenty of experience at shortstop.

Will Reds NRI Josh Harrison suit up for his hometown team on Opening Day?

Born and raised in the Queen City, it would be a dream come true for Harrison to be part of Opening Day in Cincinnati. Marte's mishap certainly opened the door to that possibility. Harrison was a non-roster invitee to spring training and has an opt out later this month.

Harrison has seen most of his playing time this spring at second base, but can play multiple positions. Having another veteran leader to join Candelario would be a bonus for the young Reds core. Most players on the Reds roster are playing their second or third year in the big leagues.

Nick Martini will still start the 2024 season in the minors

Cincinnati kept Martini on the offseason roster, and the veteran has seen most of his time this spring at first base. Martini can also play the outfield, but with Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, and Will Benson all batting from the left side, Martini's best chance to find extended playing time is at first.

But despite the fact that Joey Votto is now in Toronto after signing a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, Martini doesn't have a spot on the Reds Opening Day roster. Candelario, Encarnacion-Strand, and India will be the trio rotating in and out at first base. Spencer Steer can play the position as well if the Reds get that desperate.

Reds OF Bubba Thompson still has minor-league options remaining

The Reds brought Thompson back to Cincinnati after designating him for assignment earlier this offseason, so there's obviously something the front office likes about the former first-round pick. For starters, Thompson's blazing-fast speed fits well with the Reds style of play, and he can play all three outfield positions.

But that's not going to be enough to secure Thompson a spot on the Reds Opening Day roster. Thompson has minor-league options remaining and will be a depth piece down at Triple-A Lousiville in the event Cincinnati incurs a rash of injuries.

Tony Kemp still has a chance to join the Reds roster

Kemp was last-minute addition to the Reds roster this spring, but that's the same way that Brandon Drury landed in Cincinnati on Opening Day two years. Drury then went on to hit a three-run homer during the first game of the season agains the defending champion Atlanta Braves, was traded midseason, and parlayed his breakout campaign into a multi-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

It seems unlikely that Kemp would follow the same path, but his reverse splits from 2023 offer the Reds a glimpse of the type of role he could fill in 2024. If Kemp's bat comes alive over the final few weeks of spring, don't discount his ability to make the team.

Mike Ford is a sneaky name to watch as Opening Day gets closer

While he can play first base, realistically Ford is little more than a designated hitter. But without Marte on the roster, the trio of Candelario, Encarnacion-Strand, and India won't see as many reps at DH as originally assumed.

That opens the door for the left-handed hitting Ford to steal the final roster spot away during the last weeks of spring training. The 31-year-old posted a 123 wRC+ last season according to FanGraphs and has had consistent success against left-handed hitting throughout his career.

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