4 Reds players who are untouchable and 2 who should be traded before Opening Day

It's been said that no player is untouchable, but these four are about as close as it gets.

Cincinnati Reds infielder Noelvi Marte
Cincinnati Reds infielder Noelvi Marte / Adam Hunger/GettyImages
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There is an excitement around the Cincinnati Reds that fans haven't seen in quite some time. The club's offseason acquisitions combined with the young talent already present on the roster have Reds Country thinking playoffs in 2024.

But no general manager should ever be completely content with what he has. Nick Krall and the Cincinnati front office have consistently been thinking at least one move ahead with hopes of remaining relevant beyond just one season. As such, the Reds have made a plethora of trades the past few years.

Though it's been painful for the fanbase to see the likes of Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Kyle Farmer shipped elsewhere, it's one of the best ways that a small-market franchise like the Reds can remain in the postseason hunt year after year. With that in mind, which which four Reds players are untouchable and which two should Cincinnati consider training prior to Opening Day?

These Reds players are untouchable

The Reds should keep Elly De La Cruz at all costs

It goes without saying that the Cincinnati Reds need to build around the young talent already on their roster. The player with the highest ceiling among everyone on the Reds is Elly De La Cruz. Last year's rookie has five-tool potential and is just scratching the surface.

The 2023 season was a bit of a roller coaster ride for De La Cruz. There were moments where he looked like the best player in baseball, and others where it felt like a trip back to the minors was in order. Don't forget that De La Cruz is still just 22 years old, and during his minor league development, he could rely on his talent alone.

Heading into the 2024 season, Elly De La Cruz now knows that making adjustments will be key to his success. De La Cruz could be in for a huge jump from Year 1 to Year 2, and won't become a free agent until after the 2029 season. De La Cruz is the very definition of untouchable.

The Reds must hold on to Noelvi Marte

If Elly De La Cruz is player No. 1 on this list, then Noelvi Marte is 1A. There's reason to believe that Marte, while not as electric as De La Cruz, could eventually become a better major league player.

Marte ended the 2023 season on a 16-game hitting streak and looks to be locked in as the Reds' starting third baseman next season. With so much depth on the corners, it's debatable as to whether or not Marte stays on the infield dirt throughout his entire career, but the 22-year-old's bat is his carrying tool.

Marte will still be considered a rookie when the 2024 season begins. Just like De La Cruz, Marte is under team control for the next several years and, under no circumstances, should be traded.

These Reds players are untouchable

Reds infielder Matt McLain is off limits

If Elly De La Cruz has the highest ceiling of any player on the Cincinnati Reds 40-man roster, then Matt McLain has the highest floor. McLain is solid across the board; he hits for power, hits for average, plays above-average defense, and has above-average speed.

If there's something not to like about McLain's game, it hasn't shown up yet. The former UCLA Bruin is proficient at both second base and shortstop, though he's arguably a Gold Glove-caliber player if he makes the keystone his permanent home.

Both De La Cruz and Noelvi Marte have the ability to put up the best stat line year-in and year-out, but McLain's consistency is unmatched. While some of the younger players could have more volatile and unpredictable seasons ahead, McLain's approach is unchanged and it makes him untouchable.

Reds starter Nick Lodolo should be untouchable

This is a name that many Reds fans seem to have forgotten. Nick Lodolo was Cincinnati's best starting pitcher in 2022, and injuries robbed him of duplicating that success in 2023. But it appears that Lodolo is 100-percent healthy ahead of the 2024 season.

If that's the case, then Reds fans are in for big surprise. While so much is expected of Hunter Greene, Andrew Abbott, and newly signed free agent Frankie Montas, Lodolo possesses the best pitch mix of any hurler in the Reds' clubhouse.

After seeing the astronomical prices for starting pitching this offseason, if all systems are go for Lodolo in 2024, Cincinnati should lock up the lefty for the long haul. Lodolo should be untouchable.

These Reds players should be traded before Opening Day

Jonathan India's time with the Reds has all but expired

It's time, Reds fans. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, because Jonathan India is a good player and has a role on this team. But his time in Cincinnati is coming to an end. Rather than trade talks becoming a distraction throughout the 2024 season, it would be best to rip the bandage off now.

This isn't something that India could have prevented, nor is it the organization pushing the infielder out the door. It's painfully obvious that India just doesn't have an everyday role on the Reds heading into 2024 and beyond.

The addition of Jeimer Candelario and the eventual ascension of young infielders like Edwin Arroyo, Cam Collier, and Sal Stewart make Jonathan India expendable. And don't dwell on the leadership aspect. While India certainly brings that intangible to the ball club, he's not the only leader in the clubhouse.

The Reds should have already traded Jose Barrero

Why is Jose Barrero still on the roster? At this point, it makes virtually no sense. Even a scenario that sees two of the Reds infielders land on the injured list wouldn't be enough to insert Barrero into the starting lineup.

Barrero had his chances. While the Cincinnati Reds didn't do him any favors by being called up before he was ready and shuffled then between the infield and outfield, the harsh reality is that Barrero failed to execute when given the opportunity.

Barrero is out of options and represents a redundancy on this Reds roster heading into spring training. While it's debatable as to what Barrero might bring back in a trade, freeing up a roster spot in reason enough to send him packing.