Projecting the 2022 Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster 1.0

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India (6) fields a groundball.
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India (6) fields a groundball. / Kareem Elgazzar / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Baseball is back! Spring training officially opened this past weekend, and the Cincinnati Reds descended upon Goodyear, Arizona for an abbreviated warmup before the start of the 2022 regular season.

The Reds made some noise yesterday with the trade of starting pitcher Sonny Gray. The right-hander was dealt to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for pitching prospect Chase Petty. This trade will impact the Reds starting rotation, and also may influence the amount of money the front office will spend in the coming days to help fill out the 26-man roster.

What will the 2022 Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster look like?

Cincinnati has been aligning their payroll to their resources of late, and trading Gray was the latest in a series of transactions designed to lower the Reds payroll. It was also reported that the Redlegs have had no discussions with Nick Castellanos' representation, so he'll be signing elsewhere this offseason.

The Reds have also lost longtime reliever Michael Lorenzen. The flamethrower headed back home to California and will be suiting up along fellow two-way player Shohei Ohtani after signing a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels. The club also lost starter Wade Miley for nothing after he was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs. Reliever Mychal Givens is unlikely to return as well.

But, all hope is not lost. The Cincinnati Reds are hoping that young players like Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson continue to develop in 2022. There's also Joey Votto, the aging veteran who put together quite the performance last season. Finally, there's some young hurlers (Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo) who look poised to debut during the upcoming season.

Maybe, just maybe, the Reds have the right mix of talent to make some noise in the National League Central. A bounce-back season from some of their underperforming stars could certainly help as well. Let's take a look at what the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster might look like as spring training gets underway this week.

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) looks on.
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) looks on. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds starting lineup (9)

Joey Votto (1B), Jonathan India (2B), Kyle Farmer (SS), Eugenio Suárez (3B), Tyler Naquin (RF), Nick Senzel (CF), Jesse Winker (LF), Tyler Stephenson (C), Mike Moustakas (DH)

Honestly, looking at the Cincinnati Reds starting lineup should give fans a lot of confidence. I'd put the Cincinnati regulars among the best in the division, but there are a lot of question marks that go along with that statement.

Can Joey Votto replicate the renissance-type season we saw from the former MVP in 2021? Will Jonathan India endure a sophomore slump? How will Eugenio Suárez respond after the worst season of his career? Is Tyler Stephenson ready to be a full-time starter? And the biggest question of all, are the trio of Mike Moustakas, Jesse Winker, and Nick Senzel fully healthy?

There are a lot "what ifs" in the starting lineup, but if all nine players are healthy and play up to their potential, you have to like where the Reds are sitting. Another question that needs to be answered is at shortstop. Will Kyle Farmer outplay Jose Barrero in camp? If so, how long of a leash will David Bell give Farmer?

Barrero is too talented to just ride the pine, and I'd expect to see the 23-year-old garner a few starts per week in the early going of the season. If Farmer struggles at the plate or Barrero enters the season on fire, I see no reason to keep Barrero on the bench for very long. The possibility still exists that the rookie outplays Farmer in spring training and draws the start at shortstop on Opening Day.

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tyler Mahle (30) delivers the ball.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tyler Mahle (30) delivers the ball. / Meg Vogel via Imagn Content Services,

Cincinnati Reds starting rotation (5)

Luis Castillo (RHP), Tyler Mahle (RHP), Vladimir Gutierrez (RHP), Reiver Sanmartin (LHP), Riley O'Brien (RHP)

With Wade Miley off to the Chicago Cubs and Sonny Gray off to the Minnesota Twins, the Cincinnati Reds are left with only 60% of their starting rotation from a year ago. While Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ashcraft will certainly be in the mix, until we see how the young trio performs, I'm hesitant to put them on the Opening Day roster.

Of the three, I think Greene has the best chance to make a run at the Opening Day roster. The former first-round pick dismantled hitters at Double-A last season and got several starts at Triple-A Louisville as well. Greene is, without question, a more talented pitcher than Riley O'Brien, the question is whether or not the Reds want to see more of Greene in the minors before calling him up to the bigs.

As for the other four spots, I feel very confident including the trio of Tyler Mahle, Luis Castillo, and Vladimir Gutierrez. Barring another trade, these three should be atop the Cincinnati starting rotation in 2022.

Reiver Sanmartin finally made his major league debut in 2021 and performed very well, albeit agains the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. If Sanmartin pitches well in spring training, I think it's safe to pencil in the left-hander as the No. 4 starting pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation.

Cincinnati Reds left fielder Shogo Akiyama (4) looks on.
Cincinnati Reds left fielder Shogo Akiyama (4) looks on. / Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds bench (4)

Andrew Knapp (C), Jose Barrero (SS), Shogo Akiyama (OF), Aristides Aquino (OF)

With the Cincinnati Reds likely to carry 13 pitchers, that means the bench will be limited to just four players. Having versatile infielders like Mike Moustakas as the team's DH and Kyle Farmer starting at shortstop, the Reds only need one infielder on the bench.

Jose Barrero could easily start for the Reds at shortstop, and I firmly believe that he will overtake Farmer by season's end. We all love Farmer, but Barrero is the future of the position, and I think Farmer provides much more value to the Reds as a utility infielder than he does as the team's starting shortstop.

Onto the outfield. Shogo Akiyama is certainly on the trade block, but it's unlikely to see the former Japanese star playing anywhere other than Cincinnati in 2022. Akiyama is under contract for $8M during the upcoming season, and he'll likely rotate in center field with Nick Senzel. Akiyama could also spell Jesse Winker in left field if David Bell inserts last year's All-Star into the lineup as the DH.

I know a lot of fans don't want to hear this, but Aristides Aquino will likely sneak onto the Reds Opening Day roster once more. The Punisher has struggled mightily since breaking into the big leagues in 2019. Outside of a red-hot start during his rookie season, Aquino has been little more than a strikeout-prone bench bat. But, Bell's only other right-handed hitting outfielder is Nick Senzel.

Finally, one of the more entertaining position battles to watch will be who backs up Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson. Mark Kolozsvary is the only other backstop on the 40-man roster, but the switch-hitting Andrew Knapp has a good deal of major league experience and calls a good game behind the plate.

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett (50) throws a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett (50) throws a pitch. / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds bullpen (8)

Lucas Sims (RHP), Amir Garrett (LHP), Tony Santillan (RHP), Luis Cessa (RHP), Justin Wilson (LHP), Jeff Hoffman (RHP), Art Warren (RHP), Ben Lively (RHP)

The Reds bullpen heading into spring training already looks better than the one Cincinnati sent to the diamond on Opening Day last year. Gone are Sean Doolittle, Cionel Pérez, Cam Bedrosian, Sal Romano, and Carson Fulmer. But, there are still some uncertainties among the group David Bell will call upon to close out games in 2022.

Several of these players, barring injury, are locks to be in the Reds pen. Lucas Sims, Amir Garrett, Luis Cessa, Art Warren, and Justin Wilson will all be on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. The pair of southpaws (Garrett and Wilson) don't inspire a lot of confidence, but there aren't any other left-handed relievers on the Reds roster currently.

Hoffman feels like a safe bet to make the squad after making improvements following his switch from starter to reliever. Tony Santillan experienced a similar turn around, and the only way we won't see the right-hander in the Reds bullpen is if it's deemed necessary to give him another go in the rotation.

Ben Lively is a player to follow this spring, and could even find his name in the conversation for the starting rotation. The last two seasons saw the former Cincinnati Reds draft pick put up solid numbers in the KBO as a starter. Lively is a non-roster invitee, but could find his way onto the 40-man roster.

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Some other names to keep an eye on are Dauri Moreta. The right-hander ascended quickly up through the farm system last season and made his major league debut in late-September. Brandon Bailey is another player to watch, but after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year, he's unlikely to be ready for the start of the season.