How Santiago Espinal could survive Reds' roster crunch upon Noelvi Marte's return

It won't be long before Noelvi Marte is back in a Reds uniform.

Cincinnati Reds infielder Santiago Espinal
Cincinnati Reds infielder Santiago Espinal / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds are preparing for the return of one of their young stars. Noelvi Marte is currently on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville as he awaits the expiration of his 80-game suspension for PED use. If none of the Reds upcoming games are postponed, then Marte could be back the weekend series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

And not a moment too soon, right Reds fans? Cincinnati's bats have been behind the team's pitching all season, but this past week's showing against the Pittsburgh Pirates brought even more scrutiny to an ailing aspect of this team's makeup.

While Marte would seemingly fit right back into the lineup, especially with Christian Encarnacion-Strand on the 60-day IL, Santiago Espinal could be a casualty of the upcoming roster crunch. But there's a chance that the Reds' infielder avoids being optioned to Triple-A and remain on the active roster.

The Reds could option Nick Martini back to Triple-A in order to activate Noelvi Marte

Activating Marte is a foregone conclusion, but who gets sent down to the minors remains a bit of a mystery. Spencer Steer's versatility to play on both the infield dirt and the outfield grass adds to the intrigue surrounding this impending move.

But based on recent production, the Reds may choose to option Nick Martini back to Triple-A in order to recall Marte back to the big leagues. A corresponding move would be necessary as well in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, but a player like Peyton Burdick could be designated for assignment.

Espinal has caught fire of late. The former Toronto Blue Jays infielder is hitting .294 with a .471 slugging percentage over his last seven outings. Espinal also has one of the lowest strikeout and whiff rates in Major League Baseball, ranking among the top-10% in both categories according to Baseball Savant.

Though Espinal's overall playing time may take a significant hit, look for the 29-year-old to continue to stake his claim to a roster spot despite Marte's eventual return.

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