Reds' 2024 Opening Day roster is taking shape, but who will secure the final spot?

If the Reds don't add another position player to the 40-man roster, how might things shake out before Opening Day?

Cincinnati Reds outfielders Jose Barrero and Stuart Fairchild
Cincinnati Reds outfielders Jose Barrero and Stuart Fairchild / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds 2024 Opening Day roster is slowly, but surely, becoming clearer. While the Reds still have some work to do on the pitching side of things, the position players seem all but set.

After adding Jeimer Candelario on a three-year deal and turning Spencer Steer into a full-time outfielder, it would seem as though 12 of the 13 spots have been claimed. In addition to Candelario and Steer, Jonathan India, Jake Fraley, Tyler Stephenson, and TJ Friedl will be on the roster.

Throw in Elly De La Cruz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Noelvi Marte, Will Benson, Matt McLain, and Luke Maile, and there's only one spot left. Assuming every player is healthy when the club is ready to leave Goodyear next March, who's the odds-on favorite to snag that final roster spot?

Reds 2024 Opening Day roster: First year on the 40-man

The Cincinnati Reds added three young prospects to the 40-man roster last month. Pitcher Christian Roa and outfielders Jacob Hurtubise and Rece Hinds were selected in order to protect the trio from the Rule 5 Draft.

Roa will likely be competing for a chance to earn a spot in the starting rotation. But for all intents and puurposes, is likely to begin the 2024 season at Triple-A Louisville. Frankly, that's probably where all three players are ticketed to begin next season.

Barring injury to one of the team's primary outfielders, look for both Hurtubise and Hinds to start the 2024 season with the Louisville Bats. Hurtubise is the more advanced of the two prospects, but Hinds has virutally unlimited potential as a middle-of-the-order bat.

Hurtubise has a similar profile to TJ Friedl while Hinds is a dead-ringer for Aristides Aquino. Hurtubise will use his speed to get on base by any means necessary, while Hinds is known for his raw power.

But with the Cincinnati Reds roster deep enough in the outfield, it hardly seems likely that Jacob Hurtubise or Rece Hinds will be ready by the time Opening Day comes around. Both, however, will probably find their way to The Show sometime in 2024.

Reds 2024 Opening Day roster: Still much to prove

With the Cincinnati Reds looking to transform Spencer Steer into a full-time outfielder and give Jonathan India some reps on the grass as well, finding a spot on the 2024 Opening Day roster is going to be hard to come by.

That's especially true for Bubba Thompson. The outfielder was playing for two different organizations in 2023 and will have to work extra hard during the offseason in order to break onto next year's roster.

TJ Hopkins who had a cup of coffee with the Reds in 2023 and posted an impressive .924 OPS in just less than 100 games at Triple-A Louisville, was designated for assignment on Thursday. That's a shot in the arm for Thompson, but his foothold on the 40-man roster is still very shaky.

Thompson, a blazing-fast outfielder would fit right in with manager David Bell's aggressive base running approach. Thompson split time in the minors last season while with both the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. The 25-year-old recorded a combined 27 stolen bases.

That speed and the ability to play multiple outfield spots will work to Thompson's advantage. But the former first-round picks lacks any real power and his on-base percentage is not where you want it to be.

Austin Wynns is another name to watch after the Reds signed the backstop to a split-contract on Thursday. However, unless Tyler Stephenson or Luke Maile begin the season on the IL, fans shouldn't expect to see Wynns on the Opening Day roster.

Bubba Thompson has minor league options remaining, so even if he doesn't break camp with the big league club, he could be the perfect backup plan in the event that one of Cincinnati's outfielders suffers an injury and the team needs a short-term solution.

Reds 2024 Opening Day roster: Spring training battle

It would appear as though three players will be pitted against one another in battle once spring training begins early next year. Jose Barrero, Stuart Fairchild, and Nick Martini will be out prove themselves when the team descends upon Goodyear, Arizona in February.

This is race really too close to call, but Martini has one minor league option remaining. While that may help the outfielder to remain within the Reds organization, it may be something that keeps him from starting the season the on big league roster.

Rather than losing Martini to a waiver claim, the Reds could option the 33-year-old to Triple-A. That would leave Barrero and Fairchild, both of whom are out of minor league options, to duke it out in order to see who grabs the final roster spot next spring.

Both players bring an agressive approach to the plate. Many Reds fans are ready to give up on Barrero after watching him strikeout 29-percent of the time in 2023. However, Fairchild's 27.1-percent strikeout-rate wasn't much better.

Both players offer above-average defense and above-average speed. While Barrero spent most of last season in the minor leagues playing shortstop, he has experience in the outfield. Fairchild played all three outfield spots a season ago.

If the Cincinnati Reds do not add another bat to the major league roster this offseason, the competition for the final roster spot will likely come down to Nick Martini, Jose Barrero, and Stuart Fairchild. But with the Hot Stove still burning, anything can happen in the coming weeks.