7 Reds players fighting for their futures ahead of 2024 season

This could be the last time these Reds players take the field in Goodyear.

Cincinnati Reds left fielder Stuart Fairchild (17) hits a home run
Cincinnati Reds left fielder Stuart Fairchild (17) hits a home run / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
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Competition in spring training is heating up, and with so few roster battles this year, several Cincinnati Reds players could be on their way out of the organization. In short, there are a handful of players fighting for their futures with Opening Day less than three weeks away.

Last spring, it seemed as though there were more than enough open spots to go around. Non-roster invitees like Joel Kuhnel, Jason Vosler, and Derek Law were able to secure a spot on the Reds 2023 Opening Day roster.

But that seems unlikely to happen this year. The Reds roster has undergone so many changes since the beginning of the 2023 campaign, and players like Christian Erncarnacion-Strand, Matt McLain, and Andrew Abbott now have a firm grasp on roster spot ahead of the 2024 season.

So which Reds players are battling tooth and nail for that elusive spot on the Opening Day roster? Whose future with the Reds organization is tied to how they perform over the next few weeks?

7 Reds players fighting for their futures ahead of 2024 season

Alex Young, Reds LHP

Young has minor-league options remaining, so it's not critical that the Reds' reliever break camp with the team. In fact, it's highly likely that Young will begin 2024 down at Triple-A Louisville. With both Sam Moll and Brent Suter likely to be part of the Reds Opening Day roster, it would seem there's not room for a third left-hander at this time.

However, Moll has been limited this spring, and it's questionable as to whether or not last year's trade acquisition will be ready in time for the Reds game on March 28th against the Washington Nationals. If Moll is unable to go, look for Young to be part of the Reds bullpen.

But Young is going to have to do the one thing he didn't do well in 2023 - find success against left-handed batters. Young had reverse splits last season; not exactly what a manager wants from his left-handed reliever. Young's roster spot may not be in jeopardy before the team leaves Arizona, but as the season progresses, the lefty could be sitting in a very precarious position.

Austin Wynns, C

It would be shocking to see the Reds carry three catchers on the Opening Day roster heading into the 2024 season. Tyler Stephenson has been hitting great this spring, and Luke Maile is firmly entrenched as the Reds backup catcher.

But Wynns has hit well this during Cactus League play. The veteran backstop has a 1.139 OPS with four hits in five games and the same number of walks (3) as strikeouts. Wynns is arguably the best defensive catcher in the organization.

Cincinnati had Stephenson, Maile, and Curt Casali on the active roster for about half the season in 2023, and while it seems unlikely they'd do that again, stranger things have happened. The Reds initially signed Wynns to a split-contract, so it'll be interesting to see how that plays out as Opening Day approaches.

Nick Martini, Reds 1B/ OF

The Reds obviously value Martini. There were times throughout the offseason when it felt as though the veteran could've been handed his walking papers. Instead, the Reds waved goodbye to players like Daniel Duarte and TJ Hopkins in favor of keeping Martini on the 40-man roster.

Martini, much like the aforementioned Alex Young, has minor-league options remaining. Meaning the Reds can keep Martini within the organization even if he's not part of the Opening Day roster. But if the Reds see some talent during the next few weeks who they deem worthy of a roster spot, Martini's good fortune could run out.

Stuart Fairchild, Reds OF

No player who showed up in Arizona this spring was under more pressure to perform than Fairchild. With all things being equal, if it's a two-horse race between Fairchild and Barrero, the former top prospect is getting the nod. But Fairchild has a Secretariat-type lead over the competition at the moment.

If the Reds broke camp, Fairchild will be part of the Opening Day roster. The 27-year-old has hit for average and hit for power while also blazing around the base paths and playing all over the outfield. If there's one player that doesn't necessarily belong on this list, it's Fairchild.

However, without any minor league options left, Fairchild's Reds career could be hanging in the balance over the next few weeks. If he continues to perform at a high-level, break out the Sharpie and put his name on the flight back to Cincy. But if he falters, it'll open the door for someone else to secure that spot.

Josh Harrison, 2B/ OF

One such player who could sneak onto the roster in place of Fairchild is Harrison. The Cincinnati native is finally wearing the uniform of his hometown team and he's battling for that elusive spot on the Reds Opening Day roster.

Harrison has the ability to opt out of the minor-league deal he signed earlier this year. If Harrison gets wind that he's not going to make the cut, will he remain in the organization and take a minor league assignment? Or will the veteran test his ability to secure a job with another team?

Tony Santillan, RHP

Santillan has looked sharp this spring, and is attempting to come back from a painful back injury that really disrupted his attempt to secure a spot in the Reds bullpen. Santillan is former second-round pick and has an overwhelming fastball.

The Reds removed Santillan from the 40-man roster midway through last season, but re-signed the right-hander to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. He's got a tough task ahead if he hopes to unseat one of the Reds relievers on the 40-man roster, but there's an outside chance Santillan could make a play for the Opening Day roster.

Tony Kemp, 2B/ OF

Kemp signed late this spring, but don't think for one moment that the former Oakland A's utility player has no shot to make the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. Much like Josh Harrison, Kemp has an opt out in his contract, but we'll be given an opportunity to secure a spot on the roster before the Washington Nationals come to visit on March 28th.

Kemp has the ability to play all over the field and had reverse splits last season. A left-handed hitter, Kemp posted a .900-plus OPS against left-handed pitching. Without Nick Senzel on the roster, Reds manager David Bell may be looking for a versatile platoon to deploy throughout the season.

Essentially, if the Reds are healthy heading into Opening Day, Kemp, Harrison, and Fairchild are all competing for the same spot. At the moment, Fairchild has the advantage, but none of those three players are safe.

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