5 Reds who are in danger of losing their spot on the 40-man roster

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Ryan Hendrix RHP (68) delivers during a spring training game.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Ryan Hendrix RHP (68) delivers during a spring training game. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Every spring, there are a handful of non-roster invitees who make a run and sneak their way onto a team's Opening Day roster. In order to do, however, the club must subtract players from its 40-man roster. Which Cincinnati Reds, currently on the team's 40-man roster, are in danger of losing their spot?

Over the past few seasons, we've seen players like José Iglesias, Derek Dietrich, Tyler Naquin, and Nate Jones go from non-roster invitee to the active roster. Players like Nick Lodolo and Aramis Garcia might be the latest in a line of non-roster invitees to break camp with the Reds.

But, a corresponding move must be made in order to add a player to the Opening Day roster. Players like Dauri Moreta or TJ Friedl have minor league options remaining, so it's easy just to send them down to Triple-A until they're needed. But others on the 40-man roster might not be so lucky.

Players in recent memory who've been designated for assignment or outright released prior to Opening Day include outfielder Scott Schebler and pitcher Edgar Garcia. Who may be joining them on that dubious list this spring?

1. Reds pitcher Ryan Hendrix could be DFA'd.

Ryan Hendrix made his long awaited major league debut in 2021, and after a couple nice outings, things seemed to fall apart for the former fifth-round pick. Hendrix enters the 2022 season squarely on the bubble, and if he doesn't impress over the next couple of weeks, the right-hander could be out of a job.

Hendrix has a nice mix of pitches, but the 27-year-old fell off a cliff last season. In 36 appearances out of the Cincinnati bullpen, Hendrix posted a 5.97 ERA, allowing 21 runs in 31.2 innings of work. Hendrix also walked 16 batters and surrendered eight round trippers.

Ryan Hendrix did record 35 strikeouts, so it's not as if he was a total disaster. However, after being sent back to Triple-A Louisville, he never returned to the big leagues despite how pitifully the Reds bullpen performed in 2021. In 16 games with the Louisville Bats, Hendrix went 0-1 with an 8.62 ERA, 15 punch outs, and an obscene nine free passes. That's not going to cut it.

Cincinnati Reds left fielder Aristides Aquino (44) hits a double.
Cincinnati Reds left fielder Aristides Aquino (44) hits a double. / Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY

2. Reds OF Aristides Aquino's luck may have run out.

This is Aristides Aquino's last chance to make a good impression with the Cincinnati Reds. The slugger is out of minor league options, so the Reds risk losing him via waivers if Aquino does not make the Opening Day roster.

The Punisher has been reduced to a part-time player over the past two seasons. After the Reds remarkably were able to swing a deal with Nick Castellanos prior to the 2020 season, Aquino's hopes of being Cincinnati's everyday right fielder went up in smoke.

Over the past two seasons, Aquino has filled in at every outfield position, but even entering this spring, the 27-year-old seems to be, at best, a right-handed bench bat for David Bell. Tyler Naquin is likely to be the team's Opening Day starter in right field, and the recent signing of Tommy Pham likely puts Aquino on the bench, again.

Aristides Aquino's talent is not in question. He's one of the Reds better defenders on the outfield grass with speed and an arm to play any position. Aquino's biggest downfall is his inability to make contact with the breaking ball. The Punisher is 2-for-8 this spring with a home run. Being that the Reds are short on right-handed bats may work in Aquino's favor, but he's definitely on the bubble.

Cincinnati Reds non-roster invitee pitcher Zack Godley (48) delivers during a spring training game.
Cincinnati Reds non-roster invitee pitcher Zack Godley (48) delivers during a spring training game. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

3. Reds RHP Zack Godley could lose his spot as quickly as he earned it.

In February, Zack Godley was signed a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training, and shortly after coming to Goodyear, Godley was selected to the 40-man roster. I'm not sure his showing in the early-going of spring training is going to endear him to the Reds coaches and front office staff.

Godley has appeared in two Cactus League games, thrown in 4.1 innings and has allowed five runs on six hits with four walks. Those are not too appealing despite the fact that the Reds bullpen is short on arms. Heck, there are non-roster invitees who have better numbers than that.

Zack Godley's performance in 2021 does fill me with confidence either. The right-hander was selected to the Milwaukee Brewers roster, pitched three innings in a start, and gave up three runs. He was placed on the IL the next day with a hand injury, then once he returned to the active roster, Godley was designated for assignment.

Godley cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A. He returned to the Brewers roster again in June and gave up three runs in a third of an inning. He was once again DFA'd. Godley latched on with Cleveland and the New York Mets, but never pitched in the majors again in 2021. Godley's unsightly 16.20 ERA last season makes it very unlikely he'll be on the Opening Day roster.

Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shogo Akiyama (4) flies out.
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shogo Akiyama (4) flies out. / Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

4. Will the Reds finally say goodbye to Shogo Akiyama?

Yes, I know that Shogo Akiyama is under contract for $8M this season, but I don't care. If the Cincinnati Reds were to commit to the 33-year-old as the team's everyday left fielder and allow him consistent at-bats, I can understand keeping him. But after reportedly signing Tommy Pham to a one-year/$7.5M deal, the writing is on the wall.

Sure, the Reds could hang onto Akiyama because they don't want to pay $8M for a player who's no longer on the team, but if Shogo is little more than defensive replacement, it's not as if he's going to provide value in the first place.

I'll be the first one to admit that Akiyama hasn't received a fair shake since coming to the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down spring training and eliminated nearly any chance Akiyama had to adjust to the speed of the game. Last spring, his wife was involved in an accident that required his presence, and once he returned to Goodyear, a hamstring injury put him on the shelf.

I just don't see this Reds roster allowing Shogo Akiyama the opportunity he'll need to prove that he can make it in the big leagues. The outfield is already set with Pham, Tyler Naquin, and Nick Senzel. Even if injury befalls one or more of the starting outfielders, you have to assume that Jake Fraley and even TJ Friedl will get playing time over Akiyama. Shogo's time is running out.

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

5. Reds RHP Riley O'Brien is squarely on the bubble.

Riley O'Brien seems to have been lost in the shuffle in the Cincinnati Reds search for starting pitching. Even with Luis Castiillo and Mike Minor unlikely to start the season in the rotation, we haven't really heard much positive talk surrounding O'Brien.

The 27-year-old was brought to the Reds organization back in 2020 when Cincinnati shipped left-hander Cody Reed to the Tampa Bay Rays. Since that time, O'Brien has spent the majority of his time in the minor leagues, but did make start last season.

In that start versus the Chicago White Sox, O'Brien lasted just 1.1 innings and surrendered two gopher balls. I can honestly wrap my mind around O'Brien gettng a start or two early this season while Castillo and Minor are ramping up, but the Seattle native has pitched in just one inning this spring.

Perhaps that changes over the next couple of weeks, but for now, Riley O'Brien seems to be on the outside looking in. The Cincinnati Reds could always option O'Brien to Triple-A rather than designate him for assignment. So much will depend on how many non-roster invitees are expected to make the Reds 40-man roster.

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There are a few others who could be mildly concerned that they might lose their spot on the Reds 40-man roster. Mark Kolozsvary, Jared Solomon, and Colin Moran come to mind. We'll have to wait and see how things shake out over the next two weeks.